How to Time Travel in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Image: Austin Voigt

Although Reggie says he would "Never!!" time travel in Animal Crossing, jumping forwards or backwards within the game's "real time" clock system is definitely a possibility - and fairly easy to accomplish, if we're being honest. However, there are many consequences to consider - both from technical and ethical standpoints.

Curious about how your friends have managed to unlock everything in the game and gather millions of Bells' worth of items faster than humanly possible? Allow us to be your time traveling tour guides through Animal Crossing: New Horizons (tipping not required, but always appreciated).

Guide to time traveling in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Is it possible to time travel?

When Animal Crossing: New Horizons was initially announced, fans were told specifically by producer Higashi Nogami that time manipulation was something they wanted to avoid:

"New Horizons will not be compatible with cloud backups to avoid manipulating time, which remains one of the founding concepts of the series."

However, after release, players realized it was still a possibility to time travel in the game - and many took advantage of this feature, as in previous entries (and cloud backups came along for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers, too).

In order to manipulate time and move either backwards or forwards in the game's clock, players must:

  1. Access the System Settings on your Switch
  2. Select "System" from the bottom of the settings list
  3. Scroll down within the "System" settings on the right side until you see "Date and Time"
  4. Within these settings, deselect "Synchronise Clock via Internet"
  5. Set the date and time to your preferred destination
  6. Load up the game and let the time traveling begin!

What happens if you time travel?

While we neither condemn nor condone time manipulation in Animal Crossing, we do caution that there are many varied in-game consequences to these types of actions.

The good:

Cash Money
Make more Bells with interest on saved money in your ABD
Event Attendance
Skip ahead to events in the future - such as KK Slider concerts, birthdays, or upcoming fishing tournaments (although you cannot access seasonal events that have not yet been added to the game, such as Halloween and Christmas-themed holidays)
Expedited Mail
Get items in the mail more quickly (most arrive at 5am the next day)
Finish Things Faster
Speed up the process of new villagers moving in, fruit regrowing on trees, renovations & upgrades to buildings, trees and flowers growing, etcetera
Shopping Spree
Access new items and inventory at shops on different days
Seasonal Sporting
Access other times of the year to catch out-of-season fish and bugs
Early Birds & Night Owls
Adjust time of day to access things that may be closed, such as shops
Eviction Notice
Get rid of those villagers you despise much more quickly by ignoring them for days on end, until they finally decide to pack up and leave

The bad:

No More Bonus Nook Miles
Nook Stop Streak Bonuses are only doled out when you access the terminal each day consecutively - if you time travel more than one day, the streak will be broken
Bed Head Beauty
Time traveling a month or more into the future will give your character a lovely case of bed head (although some may be a fan of this look...)
Cockroach Encroachment
If you time travel a month or more into the future, you're sure to find some roachy rascals creeping around the house - and the further you travel, the more cockroaches you'll acquire; as with previous entries, you'll simply need to run around your home and step on them to eradicate the infestation (again, if you're looking for some new pets, this may be a perk)
Weed Siege
Unlike previous Animal Crossing games - where weed infestations would trigger events such as Leif showing up and rewarding you with rare floral items - weeds will do nothing for you in New Horizons but make a mess and knock your Island Rating (unless, of course, you like the look of them, or need them for crafting)

The ugly:

Trashed turnips
Time traveling backwards, or forwards to the upcoming Sunday and beyond, will automatically spoil any turnips in your possession (which could be a perk, if you're trying to catch some ants... or build a dump on your island)
Neglected neighbors
Time traveling multiple days at once puts you at risk of losing some of your residents, as they begin to feel ignored - again, this can be a plus if you're looking to ditch some unwanted villagers, but you won't necessarily have control over which ones leave if you travel too far
Rotten turnips
Image: Nintendo Life

Should you time travel?

Although we don't necessarily condone time crimes - which are considered to be "cheating" by many Animal Crossing purists who wish to play the game as it was designed by its creators - we do recognize that this is a series in which players are also encouraged to play however they wish.

Some are vehemently opposed to the idea, while others have more ethical reasons for manipulating time - such as odd personal schedules and real-life demands that prevent "normal" enjoyment of the game.

However you choose to play, it should be for your own pleasure. Whether you choose to get as much out of the game in as short amount of time as possible, or prolong your enjoyment and play with real-time limitations, it's ultimately up to you. We hope this guide helps you make your decision wisely!

What are your thoughts on time traveling in Animal Crossing? Have you tried it — or do you prefer to play solely in real time? Spark a heated time crime debate in the comments below, dear readers!

This article is part of our Animal Crossing: New Horizons walkthrough, which includes a Complete Fish List, Complete Bug List and Complete Sea Creatures List. If you're looking for specific fish or bugs, we can tell you how to catch the elusive Coelacanth, Mahi-Mahi, Giant Trevally, Stringfish, Golden Trout and all the Sharks and Beetles, along with a full list of critters leaving at the end of the month (unless you visit Kapp'n's Boat Tour islands, of course!).

We can also help with How to Spot Redd's Fake Paintings and Statues, How to Make Bells Fast, How to Breed Flowers, How to Get more DIY Recipes, How to Upgrade Nook's Cranny, where and when to find special characters like Gulliver, Sable, Label, Wisp, Celeste, Pirate Gulliver and Jack, plus tips on using the Star Wand, Tool Ring, Rock Trick, Cutting Down and Moving Trees, using amiibo on Harv's Island, How to Back Up Your Island Data, How to Time Travel, How to Get a 5-Star Island Rating and a whole lot more.

If it's new content you're looking for help with, we can help you find gyroids, unlock Brewster's café, use the new Pro Camera App for selfies, enact new ordinances, get the beloved Froggy Chair, and even learn How to Cook.

And finally, Where to Buy Animal Crossing: New Horizons on Nintendo Switch, if for some reason you haven't yet picked up the game, and How To Buy The Happy Home Paradise DLC, too!