Animal Crossing: New Horizons — Time travel guide

Animal Crossing New Horizons Time Travel
Animal Crossing New Horizons Time Travel (Image credit: iMore)

Animal Crossing: New Horizons, like previous installments in the series, runs in real-time. If an hour passes in the real world, it also passes in your game, whether you're playing or not. If Tom Nook says your house will be ready tomorrow, you have to wait until tomorrow for your house to be finished. Then again, you can trick the game into thinking time has passed using time travel. Time travel is not without its risks, and some would even say it's cheating; however, there are lots of reasons you might want to fast forward or rewind your island's clock. We here at iMore have all the details on how to use time travel in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Time traveling in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

While early reports suggested that Animal Crossing: New Horizons would not allow for time traveling, it didn't take players long to figure out how to accomplish this feat to some pretty impressive ends. By adjusting the time and date on your Switch, you can move your game forward or backward in time. Before you go jumping into the future, though, it's important to know that you can cause some significant and undesirable changes by skipping time.

Why would I want to time travel anyways?

Animal Crossing New Horizons come back tomorrow (Image credit: iMore)

Because Animal Crossing: New Horizons runs in real-time, there can be a lot of waiting around. Let's say a new villager just moved to your island. Well, you have to wait until they're finished unpacking to interact with them. Usually, this would mean checking back in after a day, but with time travel, you can skip straight to tomorrow and have a new villager to interact with.

Acnh Sad Turnips Hero (Image credit: iMore)

While that might seem small, let's say it's something a little more important. Maybe you missed out on one of the weekly visitors. Did you miss ours on buying turnips this past Sunday? Well, you can skip ahead and buy next Sunday's turnips right now. Maybe you want to skip to a certain time of year so you can catch specific fish or bugs. If you've caught all the fish or bugs available to you right now, you might want to jump to next month and try for something new.

Animal Crossing New Horizons Great White Shark (Image credit: iMore)

What are the risks?

When traveling forward in time, the game will behave as though you simply hadn't played for the time skipped. If you're only skipping a day at a time, this isn't a big deal, but if you skip two months, you will find your island is overrun with weeds, and your villagers have moved away. You may even find cockroaches in your home! Basically, your island will be a dump if you go too far all at once. If you're trying to sell turnips, skipping to the next week will also make all your turnips rot, and going back in time won't fix them, either.

Acnh International Museum Day (Image credit: Nintendo)

Time-traveling also won't let you take part in certain events. For example, the Museum Day Event runs from May 18 through May 21. If you jump to May 18 right now, you would not be able to take part in this event. Your Switch console's clock needs to be synchronized via Internet to take part in these types of events. This also means if you're time traveling and an event is happening right now, you cannot participate.

Animal Crossing New Horizons Sucker Fish (Image credit: iMore)

Time-traveling also doesn't make rare events any less rare. Say you time traveled in hopes of catching some finned fish that are only available in the summer. Having tested this myself, I can tell you those fish are pretty rare, and most of the time, you won't be catching the sharks you're looking for, but rather suckerfish or even more sea bass. I spent a few hours and more bait than I care to admit trying for sharks and managed to only come across one. I caught a few schools worth of sea bass, though.

Animal Crossing New Horizons Sea Bass (Image credit: iMore)

How does it work?

If you've read through all that and still want to time travel, the process is pretty easy. Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Press the - button to save and exit Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
  2. Press the Home button to return to the home screen.

Animal Crossing New Horizons Time Travel (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Press the X button to close Animal Crossing. Hint: this is critical! If you do not close Animal Crossing, the time jump will not happen!

Animal Crossing New Horizons Time Travel (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap the sun-shaped icon at the bottom of the screen to open the System Settings.

Animal Crossing New Horizons Time Travel (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap System

Animal Crossing New Horizons Time Travel (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap Date & Time

Animal Crossing New Horizons Time Travel (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap "Synchronize Clock via Internet to turn off time syncing.
  2. Change the date and/or time.
  3. Press the B button until you've returned to the home screen.
  4. Reopen Animal Crossing.

Just make sure you use your new power responsibly!

One last tip from a seasoned time traveler

If you do decide to time travel, the biggest piece of advice I can offer is make a daily checklist. This game is designed to be played daily, with things to do at any time of day. All those things might not be a priority for you, but it's easy to forget about some, especially the sporadic visitors who have no schedule to when they show up.

Animal Crossing New Horizons Switch Confirmed Characters Celeste (Image credit: Nintendo)

If you're skipping ahead to catch specific fish only available in the daytime, but aren't looking around at night, you're going to miss out on visits from Celeste. If you're not checking your secret beach for Jolly Redd's Treasure Trawler, your art gallery is going to suffer.

So, make a list of everything you want to do each day. Each day you skip ahead, check off each of those things.

Questions about time traveling?

Do you have any questions about using time travel in Animal Crossing: New Horizons? Want to show off your accomplishments? Drop us a comment below and be sure to check out our other Animal Crossing: New Horizons guides for all your Nook approved goodness!

Casian Holly

Casian Holly has been writing about gaming at iMore since 2019, but their real passion is Pokémon. From the games to the anime, cards and toys, they eat, sleep, and breathe all things Pokémon. You can check out their many Pokémon Go and Pokémon Sword and Shield guides and coverage here on iMore.