My Favorite Timezones For Living & Traveling

My Favorite Timezones For Living & Traveling

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To me the topic of timezones is interesting, both as it impacts where one chooses to live, and in terms of choosing where to vacation. I love traveling far away, and in a way jetlag has its charms, but there’s also something nice about not having a major disruption to your typical schedule.

My favorite timezone to live in

Over the years I’ve lived on both the East Coast and West Coast of the United States, though I’ve also spent a significant amount of time over my travels in virtually every timezone. While I have a general preference for the West Coast lifestyle, personally I far prefer living on the East Coast in terms of the timezone. Why?

  • I’m a morning person nowadays, and I naturally wake up around 5AM; not only do I love watching the sun rise every morning, but I also love the feeling of getting a head start, and being able to get stuff done before most people are even awake
  • For the purposes of my work, most news and other commitments happen during East Coast business hours, so I have a pretty easy time staying on top of things
  • The downside of the East Coast is that in the afternoons you might have more going on, though personally I kind of call it quits at around 4-5PM, and can deal with anything from the afternoon before the following morning before others are awake
I love early mornings on the East Coast

There’s no doubt the West Coast has its advantages as well. Specifically, the much more laid back afternoons, because when it’s 2PM on the West Coast it’s 5PM on the East Coast. That being said, I just don’t like the feeling of waking up and feeling like I’m already behind. Furthermore, I go to bed early on the East Coast (around 9PM), but at least I can have an appropriately timed Florida dinner. That’s tougher on the West Coast, as I struggle to stay up past happy hour.

Staying up late on the West Coast is a challenge for me

Of course this just reflects my personal situation. The whole world doesn’t revolve around the East Coast, but this is what works best for me, based on my circumstances.

My favorite timezones to travel to

Just as I have a favorite timezone to live in, I also have a favorite timezone to travel to. Okay, in fairness, at the moment most Pacific countries are making the choice of where to travel to quite easy, given that they’re largely closed. 😉

Increasingly timezones impact where I have the desire to travel to, which probably reflects that I’m getting older, and staying up for weird hours is significantly less appealing. I should mention that I work when I travel, so I never really have a traditional vacation where I truly disconnect. Roughly in order, here’s my take on the timezones I enjoy traveling to most:

The less time change, the better

On many levels, traveling to somewhere that doesn’t require much of a time change is pretty awesome. I’ve realized this more than ever before living in Miami, given all the international destinations you can travel to that don’t involve huge time changes:

  • It’s pretty awesome to be able to travel to the Caribbean, Central America, or South America, all without dealing with any sort of a major time change
  • On some level I’d almost rather travel to a place like Los Cabos rather than the Maldives, because it’s oh-so-nice to not be jetlagged the entire time you’re there (though it is still a time change of a few hours)
Calala, Island, Nicaragua, in the Central timezone

Europe & Africa are pretty awesome

If I have to deal with jetlag, I like being in Europe or Africa, where you’re typically five to seven hours ahead of the East Coast of the United States. I’ve been going to Europe since I was young (since my family is from Germany), and it has never been an issue for me.

My general approach in Europe is the following:

  • I wake up fairly early (as usual), and then work for a couple of hours
  • Then I have most of the day free to explore stress-free, while most people in the United States are still asleep
  • Then in the late afternoon I’ll work for a few more hours before dinner, for anything I missed in the morning
  • Then I’ll enjoy the evening, and before going to bed I might work again briefly, depending on what’s going on

Personally I think this is pretty great, whether you’re exploring a city in Europe, at a beach resort, or on Safari in Africa. I find I’m much more relaxed when traveling to Europe and Africa, since I don’t always feel like I’m “missing” everything going on in the world, but rather feel like I’m ahead of the curve.

I love the timezone in Europe & Africa

Asia & the South Pacific are tricky

As much as I love traveling to Asia and the South Pacific, from Tokyo, to Hong Kong, to Bali, to New Zealand, I struggle with the timezones… a lot.

Much of Asia is around 12 hours ahead of the East Coast of the United States, so the time difference is quite literally night and day:

  • I get that this is appealing for some people, since they say you can answer emails when you wake up in Asia and catch people as they go out of the office, and then you have all day without being bothered
  • However, for those of us who try to stay overlapped somewhat with the first half of the US East Coast business day, it’s much trickier
  • In Asia my strategy is usually to get up very early (let’s say 4AM or so), work for a bit, have the whole day to explore, then work again in the evening before dinner, and then work again after dinner; suffice to say it’s brutal, especially as I get older
Being in Asia is very tricky for my schedule

Australia is even trickier. 7AM to 12PM on the East Coast of the United States (usually my prime working hours) is 11PM to 4AM in Sydney, so that’s especially rough. In Australia and New Zealand I usually just say “to hell with my schedule,” and try to adjust as much as possible, because I’m going to be miserable if I try to maintain US hours at all.

Bottom line

Over the years I’ve found that being in the right timezone can both maximize my productivity and my general happiness and stress level. Nowadays I’m a morning person, so I love being on the East Coast, and being ahead of the curve.

In general I’d rather vacation somewhere without as much of a time change, even if there are other (slightly) nicer destinations. When it comes to traveling further away, I personally love being in Europe and Africa, while Asia and Australia are tough for me.

Anyway, that’s my opinion based on my situation, though I’m curious to hear how other OMAAT readers feel.

Do you have a favorite timezone, either for living or traveling?

Conversations (21)
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  1. kenindfw Guest

    I know everyone says if you fly to Europe from the US to NOT take a nap and stay up. However, I stay up on the flight, then take a 4 hour nap or so. Get up and be outside for about the next 5 hours or so, have some dinner, then head back to bed and I'm right as rain the next day.

    Going to Asia is particularly rough. I can't sleep on planes...

    I know everyone says if you fly to Europe from the US to NOT take a nap and stay up. However, I stay up on the flight, then take a 4 hour nap or so. Get up and be outside for about the next 5 hours or so, have some dinner, then head back to bed and I'm right as rain the next day.

    Going to Asia is particularly rough. I can't sleep on planes even in first, too much going on. On a trip to Bali, door to door was 24 hours and that was rough but at least in Bali my arrival was approximately midnight local time so I welcomed that bed and woke up at 8 am local time without any issues.

  2. Jared Guest

    I am based out of London and travel around the globe frequently (twice a week on average) for work. My destinations vary. Unusually, I have never suffered from jet lag and I am actually able to adjust to the time zone at my destination easily. I always get to bed between 9 and 10 pm and wake up at 4 am local time wherever I am. My colleagues on the other hand have significant problems...

    I am based out of London and travel around the globe frequently (twice a week on average) for work. My destinations vary. Unusually, I have never suffered from jet lag and I am actually able to adjust to the time zone at my destination easily. I always get to bed between 9 and 10 pm and wake up at 4 am local time wherever I am. My colleagues on the other hand have significant problems with jet lag. I wonder if there is something in our DNA or basic conditioning that makes some resistant to time changes. So my ideal destinations for living in or traveling to have nothing to do with the time zones, but rather with the destinations themselves. I enjoy far flung places (away from human habitation) or really vibrant places in Asia and South America. Some favorite destinations off of the top of my mind include Bangkok, Hanoi, Delhi, Darjeeling, Singapore, Patagonia, Blomfontein, Algiers, Beirut, Bogota, Sau Paolo, and Buenos Aires.

  3. Daven Guest

    It's funny you mention feeling behind when you're on the west coast. As a consumer of content rather than a producer, I enjoy when I visit my family in California. When I wake up, all my favorite blogs and websites are already updated, and I can read them with my morning coffee. :)

  4. riku Guest

    I think the question is quite pointless since the answer depends on what timezone your working contacts are (if any). If you work quite independently and seldom have meetings then things like jetlag are more important.
    And also it depends how you want to structure your day. If you like exploring cities at 7am before it's busy and other tourists are out then flying to the west is good for jetlag, but you might...

    I think the question is quite pointless since the answer depends on what timezone your working contacts are (if any). If you work quite independently and seldom have meetings then things like jetlag are more important.
    And also it depends how you want to structure your day. If you like exploring cities at 7am before it's busy and other tourists are out then flying to the west is good for jetlag, but you might end up fast asleep in bed by 8pm. If you like to lie in late and spend evenings on the town then flying east is better.

  5. Mike C Diamond

    Living in Australia (AEST/AEDT) I'm used to the idea that any travel involves either a long flight or multiple time zones or both. Singapore and Tokyo are 8 and 10 hour flights and only a 1-3 hour time change depending on daylight saving here, And for further travel, NYC is a 14-16 hour change but it's also 10-8 hours, and in our summer SYD-LAX is a five hour change,

    I'm able to adjust reasonably well...

    Living in Australia (AEST/AEDT) I'm used to the idea that any travel involves either a long flight or multiple time zones or both. Singapore and Tokyo are 8 and 10 hour flights and only a 1-3 hour time change depending on daylight saving here, And for further travel, NYC is a 14-16 hour change but it's also 10-8 hours, and in our summer SYD-LAX is a five hour change,

    I'm able to adjust reasonably well west- or east-bound as long as I'm careful to adjust what I do to local time immediately, so not go to bed after arriving at 6am, or staying awake all night with an evening arrival. I also hate midnight arrivals so I'll pay extra to avoid one. I also don't have any requirement to interact with Australian time while travelling (apart from the recent complication of mobile phone calls from people who don't know you're not at home).

    Ben's discussion of his circumstances was about time zone, but in the US. If it was about just time zone, his arguments would apply on Santiago or Lima as much as they do in Miami, and I doubt they would.

    On a recent trip to NZ with American travel companions, they were constantly converting prices to USD and times to their home zones. I started doing the same, but to AUD and AEDT, which made them laugh, as I had hoped. As with this blog post, your perspective depends on your reference point. Being in Australia, jet lag is the last thing that is of any concern at the moment, but in normal times I'm happy to live here.

  6. Eskimo Guest

    While technically not a timezone, my favorite state is Arizona and Hawaii.

    In these 2 states, I don't have to deal with the idiotic and obsolete system design to save candles so we can go fight Hitler.

    1. Joe Guest

      @Eskimo
      What are you smokin?
      It’s important to save candles
      Whose Hitler?
      This isn’t WW2

  7. Lune Guest

    As far as travel combos, living on the east coast and traveling to Europe for short trips was the best: hop on a flight Thursday evening right after work, be in London/Paris/Barcelona Friday morning, have all day Friday / Saturday, and a leisurely Sunday morning. Get on an early afternoon flight Sunday, be back by Sunday evening for a good night's sleep to start work on Monday.

    Plus, in my younger days when I did...

    As far as travel combos, living on the east coast and traveling to Europe for short trips was the best: hop on a flight Thursday evening right after work, be in London/Paris/Barcelona Friday morning, have all day Friday / Saturday, and a leisurely Sunday morning. Get on an early afternoon flight Sunday, be back by Sunday evening for a good night's sleep to start work on Monday.

    Plus, in my younger days when I did these trips mainly for pleasure, eating dinner at midnight in Barcelona and staying out until 5 or 6am like the locals worked perfectly, since to my East Coast-accustomed body clock, that meant dinner at 6pm and being out until midnight. Basically, I just never got off East Coast time and it would work perfectly! Now that trips are more business than pleasure, the fit is a little less than perfect. Such are the problems of growing old...

  8. Dominic Guest

    I had a contract gig in Singapore with a NYC-based org for a while back in 2012 and that was really difficult, for obvious reasons. :)

  9. uvaaviator Guest

    I worked from Hawaii for a week this summer and it was great! I started work at 4:00 AM, which was 10:00 AM ET and was done by noon local time. Then I had the rest of the day to act like a tourist. It was the best timezone adjustment I've ever had.

    1. Dominic Guest

      Living my whole life (and working on) the East Coast, I'm always amazed when I go to Vegas. And usually taking conference calls on no sleep! LOL

  10. Dustin Guest

    You can't use sunrise/sunset times to justify why you like a time zone. Sunrise/sunset times all depend on where you are within the time zone. I'll use sunrise times on June 21st all within the central time zone for example. Odessa, TX is 6:44 am where Montgomery, AL is 5:39 am and those two cities are straight east/west of each other. Houston, TX is 6:22 am where Bismarck, ND is 5:49 am and those are straight north/south of each other.

  11. Alan Guest

    Being from the UK I find it quite a bit easier as everything is either up to 12h ahead or behind so you can always have overlap at some point during your normal waking hours. When I lived in Oz I'd call friends/family on the train into work in the morning as it'd be evening time the previous day for them.

  12. Ryan Guest

    Live in Australia (east coast) and would say I’m a night person. Flying to US on an afternoon flight usually best, arrive same afternoon and go to bed, usually pretty easy to adjust to US time zones. Coming home is more brutal as most flights arrive at 6am! Aussies know that if a colleague is in US/Europe they’re pretty much uncontactable real time. Trying to attend US meetings or conferences from here is very hard,...

    Live in Australia (east coast) and would say I’m a night person. Flying to US on an afternoon flight usually best, arrive same afternoon and go to bed, usually pretty easy to adjust to US time zones. Coming home is more brutal as most flights arrive at 6am! Aussies know that if a colleague is in US/Europe they’re pretty much uncontactable real time. Trying to attend US meetings or conferences from here is very hard, usually requires all nighters… but most Aussies are more than happy to watch major sporting events at 2am!

  13. jeffers New Member

    Central ftw. Used to live in Austin and found football to be much better timed than now being on the East coast. As someone says above, games end too late here.

  14. Creditian Guest

    EST/EDT is the best!!!!

    Not only for stock market (especially pre-market) but also for all kinds of promotions while west coast is still dark.

  15. Towelie196 Member

    Pacific/Mountain time is much better for sports and working. Watching football when I lived in Fort Lauderdale was a chore, many games play until after midnight... ridiculous.

    My company is on the East Coast but I live in Colorado, so I can get off around 2:30 or 3 and have tons of time to do stuff. Especially anything that gets busy around normal work hours, such as the gym, groceries, or other errands.

    ...

    Pacific/Mountain time is much better for sports and working. Watching football when I lived in Fort Lauderdale was a chore, many games play until after midnight... ridiculous.

    My company is on the East Coast but I live in Colorado, so I can get off around 2:30 or 3 and have tons of time to do stuff. Especially anything that gets busy around normal work hours, such as the gym, groceries, or other errands.

    Going to Europe though, and communicating with Europe, can get a bit difficult. Especially those Eastern European timezones.

  16. anon Guest

    why don't you just stay on eastern time regardless of the destination

  17. Never In Doubt Guest

    I can think of a million things more important to where I *live* than the time zone.

    But that being the case, there’s no question that if you watch US sports, Pacific time rules.

  18. Donna Diamond

    I’m a west coast person, through and through and prefer it because of things that have little to do with time zone or travel. More to the point, for my business travel to the EU, it would be a whole lot better living on the East coast, preferably in a city with a major airline international hub. I spend about a third of the year in Europe and enjoy the time zone a lot having...

    I’m a west coast person, through and through and prefer it because of things that have little to do with time zone or travel. More to the point, for my business travel to the EU, it would be a whole lot better living on the East coast, preferably in a city with a major airline international hub. I spend about a third of the year in Europe and enjoy the time zone a lot having lived there off and on over the past 30 years. Living on the West Coast and having my business interests in Europe, I often get up in the middle of the night local time and make calls and participate in meetings and then go back to bed when they’re over. I’m used to it and I have no trouble waking up or going back to sleep. I’m always surprised to hear people complain about their jet lag problem of traveling from the USA East to the West coast. I can do three time zones, standing on my head! Not even noticeable. Nine is a lot more problematic! The absolute worst for me is Australia, where I can never seem to adjust. I don’t know if it’s the long flight over or the 17 time zone difference or both. I won’t do it to myself any longer.

  19. Raksiam Guest

    Since I'm not working when I travel I really like Asia. After traveling for a day arrive at night, go straight to bed and wake up on the new schedule. I find it much easier than Europe where you arrive tired in the morning and have to stay up all day.

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Daven Guest

It's funny you mention feeling behind when you're on the west coast. As a consumer of content rather than a producer, I enjoy when I visit my family in California. When I wake up, all my favorite blogs and websites are already updated, and I can read them with my morning coffee. :)

1
Eskimo Guest

While technically not a timezone, my favorite state is Arizona and Hawaii. In these 2 states, I don't have to deal with the idiotic and obsolete system design to save candles so we can go fight Hitler.

1
Joe Guest

@Eskimo What are you smokin? It’s important to save candles Whose Hitler? This isn’t WW2

0
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