Should you travel during Mercury retrograde?
*Checks horoscope, cancels all plans.*
Your flight gets canceled. You miss your connection. Your car breaks down. The hotel somehow doesn’t have you in the system…and they’re fully booked…and there’s a motorcycle rally coming through town that night so every other hotel room in a 50-mile radius is taken. (Not speaking from personal experience or anything.)
Bad luck? Maybe—or it could just be Mercury retrograde.
It’s the planetary moment that people love to hate (or, at least, love to blame all of their woes on), and considering that Mercury goes retrograde for about three weeks, three times a year—and has an undue influence on travel—it’s hard not to wonder whether you’re better off skipping that retreat you had planned and just hunkering down in your apartment until it goes direct instead. But is Mercury retrograde really that bad?
“The sensation is like you’re driving your car but you accidentally put it in second gear.”
“Mercury is the planet that rules communication and technology—it’s in charge of anything that has moving parts. And when you travel there are a lot of moving parts,” says Brooklyn-based astrologer Sandy Sitron. “Every couple of months from our vantage point on Earth it looks like Mercury is moving backwards in the sky—when that happens the sensation is like you’re driving your car but you accidentally put it in second gear or the emergency break is on.”
What that means if you’re on the move is that the logistics can get a bit complicated—and the more logistical stuff you’re dealing with, the more likely you are to find your plans tripped up. Heading to Sri Lanka for a surf trip, where it will take you three flights—each with only an hour layover between them—to get you and all of your gear there? Then either book it outside of when Mercury goes retrograde, or be prepared to roll with it when your itinerary goes up in smoke.
“You want to think about yourself and your mindset,” says Sitron. “Think: Am I game right now for making changes and adjustments and having a different kind of experience—or do I need this to go exactly as I’ve planned it? If you’re the person who’s like, ‘I’ll take the next flight and the $500 voucher,’ if you can let go of expectations and see any changes to your itinerary as something fun and valuable, that can be great.”
“If you can let go of expectations and see any changes to your itinerary as something fun and valuable, that can be great.”
But if you’re not that person—and traveling already makes you anxious, never mind doing it in the midst of a loaded astrological pattern—you can still make it work. “Double-check everything before you go, and show up extra early. Call the airline and make sure your flight is valid,” advises Sitron. “Really slow down in that process and check everything.” (Plus, there are certain trips that are actually really good to take when Mercury’s retrograde.)
The same goes for trip researching mid-retrograde. “I would avoid doing the detailed planning during it,” she says. “You can [start making travel plans], just know that they might change. Depending on your personality and who you are, that might be more or less comfortable of an idea.” Sitron recommends sticking to low-stakes trips that can be amended down the road. “Would I plan out the most key aspects of my wedding during a Mercury retrograde? Would I make up the timelines and send it to everyone? I don’t know if I would do that, because it’s a higher stakes thing.”
The bottom line? “If you can wait a week to buy that ticket, it might be better,” says Sitron. But she also adds that it’s not the end of the world if you go ahead and book it because OMG that Jet Blue sale going on smack-dab in the middle of the retrograde cycle is too good to ignore. “I still travel during Mercury retrograde,” she admits. “It basically happens 10 weeks a year, so you can’t stop everything. It’s great to be aware and use these cycles, but you still have you live your life.”