In the zone: How do you handle time zones?

Erysse Elliott and Salvator Dali's melted clock

In the last year we’ve crossed multiple time zones and I’m always wary of how to handle transmeridian travel. Should you go with the new time or stay with your home zone?

Sometimes it’s obvious that you’ll need to make the change, like when we head out to Australia next month. But when you’re driving across the continent I’m just not sure.

For instance, when we motored from Florida to the Wisconsin Dells last summer, we reset the car clock but we kept the kids on “our time,” meaning we woke them up at 5:30 a.m. local time which was really 6:30 a.m. back home. And we’d get them to bed as if we were still in Florida. This wasn’t that hard to do because we were only in the other time zone for about two weeks.

Go west, youngsters

But when we drove out to Oregon in the fall, we passed through multiple time zones in both directions. What’s worse, we were gone close to six weeks and spent about a week in each area. In this case, we did try to keep to “our time” but it was a lot tougher and in the end, we gave up.

What made it so tough? Most attractions didn’t open until 10 a.m. or later, which was noon back in Florida. This worked in our favor because we used the morning hours to get school work finished. We’d eat lunch before heading out on our adventures.

But many activities would run into the afternoon and we’d be ready for dinner at around 3 p.m. local time. I mean, completely starving and cranky. Plus, the skies wouldn’t get dark until 7 or 8 p.m. local time, which was well past our bedtime.

Getting in the zone

So we tried to shift a little closer to local time, but our biorhythms took a little longer to catch up. And for some reason the parents didn’t adjust nearly as quick as the kids.

That reminds me of our first road trip to California’s Carmel by the Sea. Two of the kids made the time change right away. I’m still making up for the lack of sleep!

Next time we cross time zones, we’ll try to adjust quickly. Maybe a remedy like No-Jet-Lag will help us snap to the right zone quickly instead of getting zoned out?

I wish there were a handbook or rule of thumb to know when to make the change.

When must you adjust to the time zone?

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Kari Haugeto

Kari is a serial entrepreneur with an education addiction and a profound curiosity that, more often then not, fuels some pretty incredible adventures. Currently her attention is focused on social and digital media technology and she is developing a project with her family of five and a variety of sponsors to share their cross-country adventures online in an interactive, socially responsible, educational and authentic manner.