Spring Forward – How Does Daylight Saving Time Affect Travel?

by Emese Graham
small dog sleeping in a comfy bed

Tick tock! Daylight Saving Time (DST) begins on March 8th, 2020 in Canada, and if that fact leaves you worried about blundering connecting flights or battling jet-lag when the clocks “spring forward”, we’ve got the information to ease your mind. 

7 Things to Know if You’re Travelling When the Clocks Change

Tip #1: Not Everyone Observes Daylight Saving Time

Many Caribbean, African, and Asian countries don’t bother with daylight savings, and it isn’t observed everywhere in Canada either. The province of Saskatchewan, plus a handful of regions in British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario don’t observe DST. The EU has also been considering scrapping the practice altogether. 

What travellers might not realize is that while the Northern hemisphere falls back towards the end of the year, the Southern hemisphere springs forward. To complicate things even further, DST doesn’t start and end on the same day in every country that observes it.

To help keep track of all this, we recommend paying attention to coordinated universal time (UTC). You can refer to this interactive time zone map for a helpful visual. 

Tip #2: Your Plane Ticket Always Goes By Local Time

First-time flyers can be confused about adjusting to a new time zone, even without daylight savings as a factor. But figuring out your destination time is as simple as can be. Airlines will always print your plane ticket with departures and arrivals in the local time. In other words, if you’re scheduled to arrive in Copenhagen at 13:30, that means Copenhagen time, already reflective of DST.

Tip #3: Use Technology to Your Advantage

Smartphones and laptops have thankfully eliminated the need to strap two different watches to your wrist while travelling because they adjust to daylight savings automatically. If your screens have the functionality to display multiple time zones at once, we recommend setting up both your local time and your destination time before you board the plane and lose connectivity. In fact, gradually adjusting to your destination time in the days leading up to your trip can help to reduce jet lag. 

Tip #4: What a Difference an Hour Makes! How DST Affects Your Health

The start of Daylight Savings is infamous for interrupting almost everyone’s sleep, attention, and memory for at least a few days.

Interestingly, It’s not just the beginning of Daylight Saving Time that leaves people feeling groggy and underslept. Any abrupt change to your body’s natural sleep cycle can take weeks to adjust to and affect your health. 

When travelling for business, or any reason, resist the temptation to stay up late because of the extra hour. Instead, try to adjust your sleep schedule by ten minutes for the six days leading up to the time change. 

Tip #5: Travel Within Your Time Zone to Avoid Jet Lag

Since crossing time zones can be challenging for your health, why not try travelling within your time zone instead? Canadians have excellent options for travelling jet-lag free. Plus, DST creates opportunities to visit even more destinations within your time zone, depending on the season. 

For example, during DST, folks in the Greater Toronto Area can visit destinations that share their -4 UTC time: 

  • Cuba
  • Miami
  • Dominican Republic
  • Barbados
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Venezuela
  • Brazil
  • Bolivia

But when DST ends and we “fall back”, GTA residents will then share -5 UTC time with destinations like: 

  • Peru
  • Ecuador
  • Colombia
  • Panama
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico City and Cancún

No matter where in Canada you live, ask our Expert Travellers how you can design a holiday that doesn’t require you to time travel. 

Tip #6: Be Prepared to Travel in the Dark

While travelling in places where Daylight Savings is observed, keep in mind that dark skies can sneak up on you. Pay special attention on the roads, and consider adjusting your itinerary to catch more sunlight and do some exploring. 

When DST Starts:

Mornings will be darker than you’re used to. It’s a night owl’s world.

When DST Ends:

Dusk will be earlier in the day than you’re used to. The early bird gets the rays. 

Tip #7: Master the Red-Eye Flight

Most DST observing regions change their clocks in the middle of the night, so most people simply sleep through the time change. Unfortunately, this makes passengers on red-eye flights the most affected.

If you’re travelling when DST starts:

You might lose an hour on the clock, but the duration of your overnight flight stays the same (it might even feel… longer?). Stay comfortable with our Expert Travellers’ tips for surviving long-haul flights,  and don’t forget Tip#2: your plane ticket will always display local time.

If you’re travelling when DST ends:

You’ll be flying during a repeated hour. If you happen to be travelling around the time the clocks change, or you’re arranging transportation for someone who is, you should be paying special attention to your departure and arrival times. 

For example, if you’re picking up a friend at YVR whose flight is scheduled to arrive at 01:15, you’ll need to know if this means 1:15 PDT time or 1:15 PST time so you can avoid spending an hour twiddling your thumbs in the parking lot. Use the flight duration to calculate what time you need to be there or ask the airline or your Flight Centre Expert Traveller to confirm for you. 

 

Want more travelling tips from the experts? We’re always just a phone call away. Chat with us by dialling 1-855-796-8359 anytime or by visiting the Flight Centre store in your neighbourhood. 

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