My Favorite Time Zones For Living & Traveling

My Favorite Time Zones For Living & Traveling

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To me the topic of time zones 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 time zone 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 time zone. While I have a general preference for the West Coast lifestyle, personally I far prefer living on the East Coast in terms of the time zone. Why?

  • I’m a morning person nowadays, and I naturally wake up well before 5AM (in fairness, I also go to bed really early); 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
  • Given that we have a young son, it’s useful to be able to get some stuff done before he wakes up in the morning, or else I’d feel very behind
  • 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 4PM, 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 denying that 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.

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 time zones to travel to

Just as I have a favorite time zone to live in, I also have a favorite time zone to travel to. Increasingly, time zones 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, below is my take on the time zones 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 time zone

Europe & Africa are easy enough to deal with

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 time zone 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 time zones… 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 it to say it’s brutal, especially as I get older
Being in Asia is 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 time zone can both maximize my productivity and my general happiness and stress level. Nowadays I’m a full-on 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 time zone, either for living or traveling?

Conversations (13)
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  1. Samo Guest

    Personally I prefer to travel to Asia (being European based) because they are ahead of us so when I wake up, I can go straight for lunch and I get to enjoy absolutely fabulous nights in many of their megacities. The vibe of Seoul or Tokyo in the middle of the night is awesome and the time difference makes it easier to enjoy it.

  2. iamhere Guest

    There's no perfect solution to this so it depends where you really want to be and why. This said an 8-10 hour flight is tiring even if it is in the same time zone.

  3. walester Member

    I'm in a very similar situation. I live in Hawaii, but my work is global, with many trips to developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. I'm used to working all hours of the day/night, with Zoom calls happening 24/7.

    I've learned to deal with jet lag by extending my travel with stops along the way. I recently returned from a five-week trip to Egypt and Morocco. On the way there, I stopped in...

    I'm in a very similar situation. I live in Hawaii, but my work is global, with many trips to developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. I'm used to working all hours of the day/night, with Zoom calls happening 24/7.

    I've learned to deal with jet lag by extending my travel with stops along the way. I recently returned from a five-week trip to Egypt and Morocco. On the way there, I stopped in Las Vegas and London and spent a few days in each city. On the way back, I stopped in Lisbon and Los Angeles - each a few days. I'm lucky to be able to extend my travel in this way, and often, my husband will join me at the beginning or end of these work trips as a perk.

  4. Michael Guest

    Agree on Europe/Africa being great for working, and I'll be doing that for most of June, myself. But I have always said that the Pacific Time Zone is god's gift to sports fans. And as a big sports fan myself, I think only Pacific and Mountain Time are worth living in. Not only am I a fan of west coast teams (who's games would start at 10pm Eastern), but championship series games start at 5:30 or 6pm Pacific and are done by 9. Perfection!

    1. Edd Ott 53 Guest

      Agreed. When I think about moving to the eastern time zone, I dread ballgames that can go past midnight there.

  5. Lu Guest

    Ben just curious what time do you normally go to bed to be able to get up naturally at 5am?

  6. DiogenesTheCynic Member

    You talk about liking to overlap with some of the East Coast work day, feeling "behind" if you're on a timezone where you don't wake up until part way through the East Coast work day, etc. -- I'd be so curious to know what an average day of work looks like for you, Ben. To my mind, the huge time suck has to be content creation -- and for reviews, presumably that can get done...

    You talk about liking to overlap with some of the East Coast work day, feeling "behind" if you're on a timezone where you don't wake up until part way through the East Coast work day, etc. -- I'd be so curious to know what an average day of work looks like for you, Ben. To my mind, the huge time suck has to be content creation -- and for reviews, presumably that can get done any hour of the day. But I suppose a good chunk of your content is based on news-of-the-day items, so you want to be reading the news and blogging during daytime EST hours? Curious how much of your time you also spend interfacing with advertisers, business partners, etc.

  7. ConcordeBoy Diamond

    Though I've been vocationally required-to-be for years.... I can still never, in a trillion years, empathize with WANTING to be a morning person!

    But I'm also the type to happily/naturally stay up to 2am+, often getting things done while others are asleep; so I guess the concepts aren't all that different after all. :)

  8. D3kingg Guest

    Europe is the worst for jet lag 6 or 7 hours. Brazil is 2 hours later so an 11am or noon checkout is tiring.

    Central time is good for sports. You don’t have to contend with 9AM , 4pm , or 10:30pm ridiculous game times like on the east coast and west coast.

  9. Ash Guest

    I live in Hawai'i and I love to travel to Africa, but the jet lag is a lot, and sometimes that really affects travel choices. Even though jet lag is arguably a choice, as we get in our 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, it becomes much harder to overcome. This is my field of work, actually, and even if you can overcome it, your brain takes quite a toll. So even though I'm in my 30s, I try not to push it and limit my Africa trips, which are 12 hours difference from Hawai'i.

  10. Davisson Guest

    London or just UTC in general is probably better in terms of “work”. You are able to talk to asia and Australia early (but not too early) in the morning, huge overlap with Middle East and also catch US east coast in the afternoons. No major economy aside maybe New Zealand or Hawaii that’s not convenient. Best and gg timezone.

  11. JK Guest

    As Taylor Swift was overheard saying "Jet lag is a choice!" Which I kind of love her for and I also feel that jet lag is a choice. I am from Toronto but have lived in Tokyo and Sydney for over 20 years travelling back and forth many times a year. I just amp up the coffee, get outside and do some exercise during the day and allow for a 20 min nap on day 1 and 2 and then I'm totally fine.

  12. Nikojas Guest

    It’s interesting that you are even giving this thought. Is it aged related? In my 20s the time zone had zero influence on my travels as I was excited to go everywhere, now in my 40s I do avoid big time differences as much as I can as well as flight times that make me more tired.
    I wonder if you will be writing the same thoughts in another 10 years?!

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ConcordeBoy Diamond

Though I've been vocationally required-to-be for years.... I can still never, in a trillion years, empathize with WANTING to be a morning person! But I'm also the type to happily/naturally stay up to 2am+, often getting things done while others are asleep; so I guess the concepts aren't all that different after all. :)

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JK Guest

As Taylor Swift was overheard saying "Jet lag is a choice!" Which I kind of love her for and I also feel that jet lag is a choice. I am from Toronto but have lived in Tokyo and Sydney for over 20 years travelling back and forth many times a year. I just amp up the coffee, get outside and do some exercise during the day and allow for a 20 min nap on day 1 and 2 and then I'm totally fine.

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Samo Guest

Personally I prefer to travel to Asia (being European based) because they are ahead of us so when I wake up, I can go straight for lunch and I get to enjoy absolutely fabulous nights in many of their megacities. The vibe of Seoul or Tokyo in the middle of the night is awesome and the time difference makes it easier to enjoy it.

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