5 Tips for Traveling During Mercury Retrograde

by Rebecca A. Watson on October 20, 2013

in life, travel

My sister and her friend just took off this morning. They visited this past week from Turkey. We hiked in the Black Forest, climbed a spirally tower to a spectacular Freiburg view, walked around Lake Titisee, shopped at the Münsterplazt and toured Basel. It was only a few days, but we managed to pack it all in.

Basel, Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland

They left this morning, the rain accompanying them along the path to airport bus.  If there was ever a person who inspired me to see the world it is my sister. She’s lived on four continents and international waters. She’s made more trips than I can count across sea and land, and I’ve learned a lot vicariously.

Something I’ve learned for myself is that some times are better to travel than others. And one of them just happens to start tomorrow, when Mercury goes retrograde, which is just a fancy way of saying it appears to be moving backward in its orbit relative to the Earth.

Mercury is the ruler of communication and travel, so it would stand to reason that when it’s moving backward, these things don’t go exactly the way we thought they might. You probably have noticed your cell phone acting funny or emails getting lost in the ether. Maybe even flights being delayed or cars acting weird. Even as Mercury “slows down” it starts to change things.

mercury planet

LIttle planet. Big effects.

You may or may not buy into the whole astrology thing, but I will tell you this: Many people notice this phenomenon regardless of whether they believe.

Lots of folks get really superstitious around this time (I have a friend who is putting home-buying on hold until its over), avoiding travel, signing contracts and essentially hunkering down until it passes, but I don’t think that’s necessary. Plus, could you imagine telling your potential employer you can’t sign an employment agreement until Mercury retrograde had passed?

There are some great survival tips written by Gala Darling, a favorite blogger of mine. So in the spirit of my sister’s travels, as well as my own, I thought I would pull together my own tips for handling the event while you’re traveling. These are useful regardless of whether your destination is across town or across the globe.

1. Mark your calendar. Knowing is half the battle, right? When I was first learning about Mercury retrograde, I never paid attention to when it is and inevitably communication would get garbled. Then I’d check the date and duh! Of course I would miss my bus!

mark calendar

Generally there are three or four events within a year. This year we’re going through the last one from October 21 to November 10. A quick Internet search will give you the dates for whatever you’re looking for. This can be helpful when you’re planning a trip or big event.

I’m not saying you should avoid taking that dream trip to Bali during this time (my friend and coach Tanya sure wouldn’t!). I’m just suggesting you don’t book a 6 a.m. fight when you have to take an hour shuttle to the airport. You’re just asking for trouble. (See more about scheduling time below.)

We always act more intentionally when we know we might be triggered in a certain situation. This is no different. Just being aware that this time is on the calendar will allow you to make more sound decisions and enjoy your trip.

2. Double, no, triple-check everything. Don’t just write it down, put it in your pocket and count on your brain during this time. Take it from the girl who missed her flight and stayed in Ireland an extra day because of a mistake like this. Check EVERYTHING.

double check

Are you headed to the correct destination? Sante knew a couple who planned a trip to Costa Rica and ended up spending a week in San Jose, California. Silicon Valley was probably not what they had in mind.

Do you know where you’re going? In Gala Darling’s post she describes how she went to the wrong airport for one of her flights.
Are your dates and times accurate? My friend and her man took a honeymoon and arrived at the airport with 12 hours of extra waiting time.
What’s the baggage situation? That extra bag you’ve packed might not make it out of the airport, or it might cost you half your spending cash. Also, be sure to pack items well, meaning secure your fragile stuff and lock away your valuables.
Everyone on the same page? If you’re meeting folks, make sure they know exact times, dates and places. And have a back-up plan.

3. Give yourself a ridiculous amount of extra time. OK, so maybe not as much as my friend began with on her honeymoon, but it’s probably best to add at least another hour to your schedule, just for unforeseen delays with traffic or slow service or whatever.

Last year I had a speaking engagement a few hours drive from my home. It was during Mercury retrograde so I was careful with all the details of renting a car, from the dates and places to accurate credit card info. I even got it the day before.

But when I went to drive, I only planned to be about one hour early, which is about how early a speaker should be. Long story short: I ran into holiday traffic and ended up being 30 minutes late to the engagement. Mortifying. What I should have done was add an extra hour to that time.

When Mercury is rearing its retrograde, it’s best to be as practical and careful as possible. Avoid uber-short layovers where you could miss connections or your luggage could get lost. If you plan for it, your stress levels stay down and you might enjoy your experience, which is really the whole point, right?

4. Expect the unexpected. Another friend of mine was interviewing in NYC during a retrograde a few years back. I warned her about it and she added extra time and rehearsed her subway trip there the day before to be sure she was in the clear.

On the day of her interview, the subway was packed and the crowd wasn’t moving anywhere. She was stuck. Thankfully, since she knew what was happening and had prepared, it all worked out fine for her.

For me it was holiday traffic. For her, the subway jam. For you, who knows? Just expect that it’s coming and go with the flow. Why? Because …

5. Usually it works out better than you thought it would. There have been times where I have freaked out and just kept trying to “fix” what was happening with Mercury retrograde. Once when a connecting flight of mine was delayed, I called right when the plane hit the ground to tell Sante to cancel our shared car to pick me up.

But then I got on another flight to a different airport right away and since he had already cancelled he had to drive our gas-hogging truck to get me. I wasn’t clear about where I was landing so he drove to the original airport, making for two very frustrated folks.

Looking back I know if I’d just let everything happen naturally, I could’ve called him when I was leisurely sitting on the plane about to take off, not in bulleted updates as I’m walking across the airport. We both would’ve been on the same page and everything would’ve been fine.

When  things seem to be falling apart, just sit back and take a deep breath. If you’ve followed the tips above, being aware, allowing extra time and expecting that things will change, everything will fall into place exactly as it should, and your travels will be blessed.

lake titisee

What else belongs on this list? Let me know in the comments!

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