Depending on where you're going, it can be trickier than you think.
Daylight Saving Time goes into effect this Sunday, which means summer, with its delightfully long days and late sunsets, is finally on the horizon, and we can all rejoice in leaving work while there’s still some semblance of daylight.
Although most people’s phones, computers, and other smart devices will automatically move forward an hour at 2 a.m. this Sunday (allowing you to seamlessly lose an hour of sleep without even realizing it), there are some complications that can arise if you’re traveling in the next few weeks. Here's a breakdown of everything you should be aware of if you're traveling within the U.S. or internationally.
If you’re traveling domestically (with some exceptions, which we get into below), you shouldn't run into problems as long as you’re aware of the new time difference beginning on Sunday. If you rely on an analog bedside clock or alarm, be sure to set that forward an hour before going to bed Saturday night.
If you have a flight on Sunday morning, try to go to bed an hour early, if not earlier, to account for lost sleep. Air travel is a notoriously easy way to get sick, what with germy tray tables, very dry cabin air, and the always dreaded sneezing or coughing seatmates. Be sure to get a good night’s rest for a long day of travel, as our immune systems need sleep to fight off infections.
Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands
Here’s where things start to get trickier: Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands currently do not observe Daylight Saving Time (DST). If you’re catching a flight or a connection in any of these states or territories, be sure to double check the local time so you know exactly how much time you have until your flight departs.
And don’t just rely on your phone; it might not automatically update to the correct local time, or you might not have service. When in doubt, ask the gate agent how much time you have until boarding, so you don’t miss your flight like this traveler, who thought she had a leisurely 90-minute layover when in actuality it was only 30 minutes, according to The Points Guy.
Daylight Saving Time is also observed in many places around the world, so if you’re traveling abroad for the next month or so, you may deal with many unexpected time changes.
Along with the U.S., most of Canada and most of Mexico change their clocks on March 11 this year. And while many Caribbean countries do not observe DST, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Cuba, and Turks and Caicos will switch their clocks on March 11 as well.
Europe will move forward an hour at 1 a.m. on Sunday, March 25.
Meanwhile, countries in the Southern Hemisphere observe DST on varying dates — and to make things even more confusing, Daylight Saving Time is ending for them just as it's beginning for the Northern Hemisphere (because summer and winter are reversed). That means that they change their clocks back while we set ours forward. Brazil already set its clocks back on February 18. Chile won’t until May 13. And Australia and New Zealand change their clocks on April 1.
We know — that’s a lot to take in. If you’re going to be traveling abroad over the next month, consult this handy chart, which lists countries that do observe DST and what date their clocks switch over. It also lists which countries don't change their time at all throughout the year, including most African, Caribbean, and Asian countries.
So the important takeaway here? If you have a plane, train, or boat to catch, be aware of time changes ahead of time before you realize too late and you've missed your departure. Don’t just assume your phone will automatically switch to the correct local time, as you’re likely using a phone with an American operating system abroad. Besides, it’s always better to be overly cautious than sorry (i.e. having to spend a night in an airport hotel because you missed the last flight out).