8 Conventional and Weird Ways to Tell Time While You’re Traveling

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You have to meet your travel group for dinner at 5, but your phone is dead. There’s no place to charge it in sight and you neglected to pack your watch, or wear it for that matter. Don’t panic, there are actually plenty of other ways you can tell the time by observing your surroundings.

There is the obvious thing you could do, like ask a pedestrian on the street for the time, but it might be a bit much to ask someone every few minutes. Instead, a quick glance at the sun and a little math can tell you the time as well. Also, a lot of major cities do have clock towers built around.

There are many other ways to tell time other than these examples. Keep reading so you’ll always be on time when you’re traveling.

1. Church Bells

Back in the Medieval days, communities didn’t have clocks in their houses. Instead, they used church bells to tell them the time. This is something that never stopped because many smaller communities still use it as a form of telling the time.

So, if you find yourself in the middle of a small town during your travels with a dead phone and none of these best value watches, listen for the bells.

2. Clock Tower

London isn’t the only place where you’ll find a clock tower to tell the time. It’s an idea that dates back as far as ancient Athens. Many cities use this method to keep their people on schedule.

If you’re traveling in a major city then chances are you’ll be able to tell the time by looking up.

3. Use the Sun’s Position

This next method takes a little math, but it’s a great way to tell time if you’re roughing it in the great outdoors. First, move where there are no trees or buildings getting in the way of the sun.

Hold your hand up with your palm facing you. Make sure to keep your thumb out of the way because it will throw off your reading. Your hand should line up completely with the horizon.

Take your other hand and stack it on top of the other until you reach the bottom of the sun. Count how many fingers can fit between the sun and the horizon and multiply it by 15 to get your time.

4. Make a Sundial

If telling the time using the sun method is a little confusing, you can make your own sundial. Again, something that is handy if you’re out camping. Write the numbers 1-12 around a paper plate as it would look on a clock.

Take a pencil and use it to poke a hole in the center of the plate and then tape it in place. After that, take it outside and place it on the ground facing North. The pencil’s shadow will tell you the time.

5. Track the North Star

For this, you will need your trusty compass. Take it out and use it to stand to the North and locate the Big Dipper. About five stars up from the bowl portion of the Dipper, you’ll find the North Star.

Once you’ve located the star, look at the sky and picture it as a huge clock except you’ll split it into 24 instead of 12. Use the Big Dipper as an hour hand of sorts and use it to calculate the raw time. To get the actual time, you’ll have to do a little bit of math.

Get out a piece of paper because we’re about to take you back to math class. You’ll need to use a simple equation that will look a little like this Time = Raw Time – (2X the number of months since the current month).

6. The Moon Phases

The last bit of outdoorsman survival time telling we have for you is using the phases of the moon. It’s not as accurate as tracking the North Star but it will work in a pinch.

All you have to know is the time of night that the moon is in a certain position. For example, if you’re looking at a waxing crescent, that would indicate that it’s the first quarter of the night because it’s only visible for about three hours after sundown.

Keep in mind that this method doesn’t work during a new moon because you won’t be able to spot it.

7. Candle Clock

Our ancient ancestors used candles to tell the time. It works in a pinch if you’re sitting in your hotel room with a dead phone and no watch. Candles aren’t too expensive either.

Granted it won’t tell you the time exactly but rather how much time has passed. If you know it was around noon when your phone died and you need to meet someone for dinner around five, put five evenly spaced dashes in a candle and check it to see how much wax has gone down.

It won’t be a perfect way to help you keep up with time, but it works if you have nothing else laying around.

8. Incense Clock

The incense clock smells fantastic and also helps you keep up with time so there are two benefits to it. Pick up incense sticks of varying lengths and burn short ones to measure a short amount of time and longer ones to measure large gaps in time.

Ancient Chinese people usually had it attached to a string. When the string burned through it would release the sound of a gong that was also attached to the setup but you don’t have to go that extreme.

Strange Ways to Tell Time When You’re Traveling

Instead of panicking when you’re out and about in a new place without a watch or a dead phone, look around for other methods for telling the time. You can look to the sun, listen out for church bells if you’re in a small community, or see if you can spot a clock tower if you’re in the big city. Use these strange but effective ways to tell time to make sure you’re not late for an important date during your travels.

Have you thought of starting up your own travel blog? Keep reading to find out how you can do it in five minutes.


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