This weekend sees the majority of the Australian population switch away from daylight saving and back onto “regular” time. Not forgetting to reset the clocks is a challenge everyone has to master, but the switch to or from daylight saving poses extra challenges for tech-laden travellers.
In most contexts, getting the time wrong on a Sunday morning doesn’t have many messy consequences, but it’s bad news if you have a plane to catch or a hotel you have to check out of. Regular travellers already have to grapple with the consequences of Queensland opting out of DST; here’s some other traps to bear in mind if you’re on the road this weekend (or at any other time when daylight savings starts or stops).
Don’t assume the rules are the same everywhere
While daylight saving officially ends this weekend in those states in Australia which follow it, there’s no worldwide standards for the dates. This year, for instance, the UK and Europe switched onto daylight saving one week before Australia switched off (prior to the standardisation of six-month DST in Australia, the date often coincided). In the USA, the changeover happened on the weekend of March 14. All of this means that if you travel internationally across those periods, time differences between countries may switch several times in a matter of weeks.
Don’t assume your gadgets know what they’re doing
While most modern PC operating systems can handle DST changes automatically, there are always exceptions (such as last year’s messy handling of WA dropping DST within Windows. Gadgets can be even more problematic. If your phone is set to access network time automatically, it should have the correct time, but you may need to double-check to ensure that any alarm times aren’t also automatically shifted. Calendar appointments after the switchover date may also move around in unexpected fashion. (To avoid that kind of confusion, I always make sure any times on a PC calendar appointment are noted in the body of the entry, as well as using the actual time setting features, so I’ve got a quick way of checking if something appears to have shifted unnecessarily.)
Don’t assume anyone else knows what they’re doing
Even if your own gadgets are checked carefully, you can’t assume others know what they’re doing. Last year, I found myself staying in a hotel in the UK on the day DST began. The time change wasn’t reflected in the in-room keycard system, so when I returned after breakfast, I couldn’t get back into my room, since the system assumed it was past check-out time. That’s not a major inconvenience, but it means I wouldn’t want to rely on an automated wake-up call these days when a date shift is involved. In that context, an old-fashioned wind-up alarm clock set correctly before bed might be the best bet.
Got any other daylight saving tips, tricks or resources for travellers? Share them in the comments.
Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman has managed to convince his body that an hour’s sleep lost or gained doesn’t really matter. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.