I (Almost) Never Change the Time When I Travel. Do You?

I live in US Central time. My job is on the East Coast.

  • I keep my computer set to Central time, it’s that way all the time when I travel except…
  • When I go to DC for work, when I’m in the office, I reset my computer to Eastern time.

Microsoft Outlook does a pretty good job with meeting requests and time zones. So it’s fine to send things back and forth with colleagues while our computers are set to different times. In the office though if my computer’s time doesn’t match everyone else’s while I’m in the same time zone they are I’d never make it to a meeting at the right time.

Rapid Travel Chai writes,

I keep my computer on US Eastern time to keep track of things back at base.

I do recognize a wrinkle with this. Seeing the time at home on my screen when I’m on the other side of the world keeps me anchored to what time it is at home. He keeps me attuned to the business day.

On short trips that’s great, it’s one little thing that helps me not adjust too much to the local time, it’s a way I snap back faster (and jet lag when I return home isn’t a problem I’ve had in any meaningful way in a few years).

On longer trips, vacation especially, it means I’m not really “letting go.”

Do you change your computer’s clock when you travel?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I always change time – pretty much a necessity since I live in California and my only travel is to EU countries for work – a nine hour difference most of the time.

  2. I never change the clock on my travel computer. .. nor my watch. …

    The are alway set to Melbourne (Australia) time.

    If I need the time wjere I’m at it’s a quck calculation.

    E.g. subtract 14 hours for New York in June, subtract 11 hours for London in January.

    My ‘phone will update (generally).

  3. One of my biggest problems is that office won’t let you set *future* timezones. It’s great at showing your current working schedule, but has no way to handle if you change working hours frequently.

  4. Gary,
    Not changing your time zone at home base seems sensible for you as work is compulsory and vacation time is optional.

    You can also consider a dual time watch to make it easier for you. You can get an inexpensive casio to do that for you as well. An iphone world time application works as well.

    Just my two cents worth.

    Best regards.


  5. Somewhat moot since I stopped wearing a watch and my phone updates automatically.

    When I wore a watch, then no change if I stayed in North America, change if abroad.

    When jet lagged at a foreign airport, I want my timepiece at the same time zone as the flight times-are.

  6. I never used to change my time and still for the most part do not. The challenge, daylight saving time for two weeks each time, europe is off for me by 5 hours and then it is off for 6 which is the case most of the year. Asia is off by 12 but half the year it is different and then it is different in Japan and Thailand. I was having a problem knowing what time it was. Enter the apple watch with multiple time faces. I keep the local time which updates when I travel and 4 other times zones in the corners of the display. This works until I forget to charge the watch.

  7. I always change the time on my watch and computer the minute my flight takes off. I never wear a watch when home but always when traveling. I need to do this to keep on my travel schedule and not get confused when making connections.

  8. I travel for work, mostly within the US. I do the following:

    Phone changes automatically. I change my watch on the plane. My PC changes automatically thanks to an app I installed once I get on wifi. And I use Outlooks dual time zone feature in the calendar to always show my home time zone.

    It’s more inprotant to me to be on the right time with clients than to be on the right time at home.

  9. The only thing that I change time when I travel is my watch. The computer and iPhone clocks stay at US CST where I live. When I travel with Apple Watch I then have the local time as the main time but keep US CST as the secondary time. It is easy to keep track of things at home like office hours and personal hours like time to call the kids before they go to school or go to bed.

  10. for my computer clock, i use anuko world clock instead of standard windows clock. it lets me keep multiple time zones in view at all times (home office and time zones for key clients). find it especially useful if people you work with are in Asia

  11. I can’t imagine NOT changing the time on my devices. I change everything as soon as I’m in the air to my destination.

    Time, in my opinion, is relative to where you are. For example, if you live on the East Coast, what’s the point of keeping East Coast time on your watch when you’re in California? Are you going to look at the time, see that it says 12pm, and go eat lunch? Of course not, because it’s only 9am – so why not have all of your devices reflect that reality?

  12. Beachfan: “Somewhat moot since I stopped wearing a watch and my phone updates automatically.”


    I resemble that remark. Not having worn a wristwatch in at least 5 years, my Verizon DROID Turbo by Motorala, or some other global smartphone that I have had, has been my sole resource for automatically staying in sync with the world around me, no matter where. My laptop is always set to my home base (NYC), which also keeps me in sync with work associated there…

  13. I do not change my time on the computer but have set my cell phone to change time zones automatically. I am a bit traditional on my laptop because of issues a long time ago with Lotus Notes and time zone changes but also like it this way.
    Currently on the way to Australia from Switzerland. I have a little labs utility running inside gmail showing me the current time in the locations I deal with most.
    So no, won’t touch my laptop but let the cell phone take care of it automatically (also for the wake up calls in the mornings).

  14. Definitely with Beachfan on this one. I want to know what time it is right where I am at a glance. The time back home is something I can calculate easily enough if I need to, but I’d rather not miss a flight – or anything else I might have an appointment for – by getting it wrong in the moment. I guess it makes a difference that I don’t travel for work much and have no generally have no need to stay in close contact with anyone for work purposes while traveling.

  15. I’m with those who don’t wear a watch, let their smartphone adjust to local time (with my calendar in Outlook also automatically adjusting – though I am in the habit of noting the time of calls at both home (eastern) time and local time in the location line, just to help me think of it more clearly while jetlagged), and keep their laptops on home time.

  16. I don’t wear a watch so I don’t change that. My phone changes time zones automatically, as does my chromebook. Also, when I traveling for work I change the work laptop time zone but I also add an east coat time zone clock display to windows so that when I click the clock in the lower right corner I get the current time where I am AND the “home” timezone.

  17. as a brit with an american girlfriend whilst living in Australia i’ve got to say setting my phone and laptop to show multiple timezones at once allowed me to communicate between all three regions at the same time. This was particularly helpful as i was regularly changing time zone and had several timezones to keep track of as each party travelled plus different changes to daylight saving times.

  18. I’ve been in the air an average of one hour a day since the mid-90s. Most of my flights are up and down the US West Coast, but …

    I change my phone and fitbit to the destination timezone just before the flight takes off, so I can start “thinking” in the new time, and even adjust a sleep cycle for that time. I don’t use my laptop during the flight, but once I get to my destination, I change the time to the local time. I have apps on both my phone and laptop that can show multiple timezones, so I might pre-program those to be every stop along the trip.

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