Travel Stress during Mercury Retrograde
Credit: Getty Images [edited]

Originally published on December 4, 2017.

‘Tis the season to freak out about Mercury going back into retrograde. If you’ve been living under a rock — or usually tune out your astrologically inclined friends — Mercury retrograde is when the planet looks like it’s moving backward across the sky. Mercury ordinarily moves west to east, but while in retrograde, it appears to move east to west.

Mercury retrograde has been documented since the mid-18th century, so panicking about its effects is by no means a new thing. Mercury is said to affect your communication, self-expression, and your mind. But on a more practical level, especially with all the holiday travel coming up, it is also said to affect air travel, transportation, phones, and computers. So the fact that Mercury is going back into retrograde starting December 3 isn’t great news. It’ll be in retrograde until December 23, and some argue that you shouldn’t travel at all during Mercury retrograde.

But we disagree. December 3-23 are prime travel days, and all you need to successfully travel during Mercury retrograde is good preparation. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to handle any travel nightmare that the planets throw your way.

Check into your flight 24 hours in advance.

More than organization or saving you time at the airport, this will ensure that you commit your flight details to memory well before heading to the airport. In other words, checking in ahead of time could save you from missing your flight.

Download some Netflix to watch offline.

You never know when you’re going to sit on the tarmac at the airport or have to drown out the crying baby behind you on the train. Having some "Orange Is the New Black" locked and loaded couldn’t hurt.

Leave a lot earlier than you need to.

This is Mercury retrograde. There could be an accident that causes an unexpected traffic jam, or you could accidentally go to the wrong airport. Take it from someone who recently ended up at a nondescript airplane hangar called “LA Airport” instead of LAX — you’re going to want the extra time.

Write down the travel documents you need and tape the list to your front door.

There is nothing worse than getting to the airport/bus station/questionable Amtrak port and realizing that you don’t have your ID. Put a Post-it on whatever surface you’ll see before walking out the door with a checklist. Sometimes an analog reminder goes a lot farther than a phone reminder you can easily ignore.

Tag the bejeezus out of your luggage.

When you’re toting people’s presents and the one sweater you’ve been waiting to debut, you really don’t want to have your luggage end up in some far-flung destination. Put a tag with your information on the outside of your bag. Then put one on the inside of your bag. Maybe even add a secondary contact number for good measure.

Download your boarding pass into your Apple Wallet so you can stay up to date on flight delays.

Your boarding time on the Apple Wallet pass will update automatically. And don’t forget to check your flight right before you call your taxi or ride-share to the airport.

Stay calm, and focus on your energy in addition to external factors.

It’s easy to blame Mercury retrograde for a flight delay — especially when you’ve been sitting in an airport for six hours. Remember that Mercury retrograde can affect your energy and mood, too, and unlike your delayed flight, how you respond to a travel crisis is within your control. With a good pair of headphones, you can find some peace even amidst airport chaos.