It’s Travel Tip Tuesday! This week we’re talking about why math is so important for travelers.

I am NOT a mathematically-minded person. I’m a wordsmith who can write cycles around rocket scientists (and has), but it takes me more than a few minutes to figure out mathematical problems. Thankfully my husband is a numbers-loving engineer! I was one of those people who thought I would never use algebra in real life, but as it turns out, math is a much larger part of my travels than I would like to admit! Here are a few ways I use math on the go and how you can, too!

1. Travel Time

So, how long is your actual travel time? People ask us this quite a lot, actually.

The easiest way (for me) to figure it out is to find the time at my destination at the time I leave. Guam is 15 hours ahead of us in DC. So if our flight tales off at 12:25 pm Tuesday my time, that’s 3:25 am Wednesday in Guam. We land at 10:20 pm Wednesday. I know that 3:25 pm will be 12 hours of travel time, and 3:25 to 10:20 is another 6 hours and 55 minutes. 12:00+6:55=18 hours and 55 minutes!

2. Time Differences

Another favorite math usage is figuring out time differences!

Luckily, my iPhone will tell me what time it is anywhere in the world. But sometimes I don’t have my phone readily accessible (sometimes it hides in the dark recesses of my bag!), so I need to get it figured out on my own. If I’m in Singapore and need to know what time to wale up and FaceTime with my mom’s jr. high kids at 1:00 pm their time in Middle Tennessee, I need to know the time difference. In this case, Singapore is 14 hours ahead.

So, if my mom wants to chat at 1:00 pm Thursday, I need to set my alarm to wake me up by 3:00 am Friday morning!

1:00 pm + 12 hours = 1:00 am

1:00 am + 2 more hours = 3:00 am

Yes it’s true. I’ve woken up at 3:00 am to FaceTime with my mom’s classes.

3. Money Matters

OK, this one is probably the most important one! Exchange rates vary daily–and sometimes multiple times a day–but usually not by by too much at a time. It’s essential to get an idea of the exchange rate in a country you’re visiting. I use an app called “XE” to figure out exchange rates, then write it down and do a little quick division to figure out how mich I’m spending. Take a look:

So, if I’m using Euros in Lithuania, I know that for each Euro I spend, it’s the same as spending $1.06 USD at home.

If I spent €10 on lunch, it’s the same as spending $10.60 back home. If my husband spent €25 on beautiful amber earrings for my birthday, it’s the same as spending $26.60 back home.

4. Metric to Imperial Measurements

When I ask for directions in any country besides the US, Canada, and the UK, I’m given the distance in meters or kilometers, not yards or miles! So I have to figure it out. A kilometer is just over 1/2 mile, or 0.6 miles. If something is a kilometer away, I know I can walk to that. If it’s 9 or 10 kilometers away, I know I need to find another way!

So what do you think? Glad you paid attention in math class? Does it come naturally to you? Feel like you can handle the numbers now?

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