The phenomenon of Mercury retrograde has entered our mainstream vernacular, inspiring countless memes while frightening others into near-catatonic states. 

For those who are unfamiliar, a planet is retrograde when it appears to be moving backwards in its orbit based on our vantage point from earth. This occurs with the fast-moving inner planets of Mercury and Venus when they overlap the earth in their orbits around the sun. Because Mercury completes its orbit in only 88 days, it turns retrograde three to four times a year for three to four weeks at a time. 

A grump family waits in a light-filled airport terminal. One little girl sits on a pile of luggage on a baggage cart, her head resting on her hands in boredom. A young boy in a blue shirt and jeans slumps in his seat, as if he's been waiting for a long time. Another child in a white shirt gazes off into the distance with a diffident expression. A mother in slacks and a black shirt reads a newspaper.
Mercury Retrograde can throw every thing and every one out of balance here are some ways to stay on top of your game despite its tricky influence © Thierry Foulon / Getty Images

Although the retrograde motion is an optical illusion, many believe that this apparent backwards motion hinders the planet’s ability to function at full capacity. Since Mercury is believed to govern over communication, technology, travel, and commerce, we often experience frustration in these areas of our lives while the planet is retrograde. 

The next Mercury retrograde begins on October 31 and will last through November 20. During this time it will traverse the fixed water sign of Scorpio, which encompasses themes of power, death, sex, and transformation. While Mercury is retrograde in Scorpio we might find ourselves drawn to deep discussions and motivated to get to the bottom of our issues. 

Here are some do’s and don’ts to ensure your Mercury retrograde travels go smoothly: 

1. Slow down 

Mercury is the fastest moving planet in our solar system so when it appears to be slowing down or moving backwards, that’s a sign that we should do the same. You’ll reduce the chances of having a travel mishap if you take your time with every step of the process. As astrologer and tarot reader Diana Rose says, 'Leaving the house late and rushing to the airport is never the cutest, but during Mercury retrograde, it can come with additional pitfalls that would've been avoided if you'd just slowed down.'

A young woman in a denim jacket and straw Panama hat gazes up at a departures and arrivals marquee in an airport
By double and triple-checking everything you're sure to avoid hiccups and be pleasantly surprised when things go smoothly © Thianchai Sitthikongsak / Getty Images

2. Double-check everything

Once again, a standard travel rule that carries extra weight during Mercury retrograde. Make sure your information is correct at every stage of travel. Double-check your departure and arrival airports before booking your flight, save your flight information in your calendar immediately, and ensure that the time zones are correct. Most travel confirmations are provided via email, but it’s a good idea to print out your documents when traveling during Mercury retrograde.

Astrologer Ashleigh D. Johnson clarifies that, 'Scorpio rules other people’s resources so if you’re using a buddy pass, pay special attention to the rules attached to it. Check for any recent policy changes that may affect your travel plans.'

3. Arrive early 

Mercury retrograde is not the time for underestimating how long it will take you to get through airport security or customs. In fact, it’s a good idea to assume that your flight will be delayed or cancelled – that way you’ll be pleasantly surprised in the off-chance that everything goes as planned. Diana Rose recommends that travelers, 'Avoid checking a bag if you can help it.'

Apply this rule to all of your travel engagements, whether it’s arriving early for a flight, bus, or train, a free walking tour, or a reunion among friends. 

Several Lonely Planet guidebooks sit on a warm, honey-hued wooden table with large planks. One is a guide to Hong Kong, another to Phuket. A pair of black eye glasses sit off to the side. Another is a guide to the north islands of New Zealand, sitting by a blue American passport and a mug of herbal tea.
Plan ahead and take your guidebooks with you instead of your phone or tablet, less likelihood of having a technology snafu © Lonely Planet

4. Plan ahead 

Mercury retrograde impacts not just how we travel, but how information is transmitted. That means that it’s more likely that our phones won’t work in a foreign country or that connecting to the internet might prove more difficult than usual. Avoid this annoyance by planning ahead. 

Ashleigh D. Johnson advises that, 'Research is your friend before and during Mercury retrograde, but especially with Mercury in Scorpio. Look up things to do and eat while you’re in the airport. Check if you can get into a nice lounge to relax. Search for perks attached to your various cards, groups, and memberships.' 

5. Backup technology or leave it at home 

Technology glitches are common during Mercury retrograde, but you can bypass this irritation by leaving nonessential gadgets at home. Diana Rose claims that,  'It's also good form to back up your phone and computer before you go, and only take as much tech with you as you actually need.'

Any technology that accompanies you on your trip should be mindfully stored to prevent damage. Make sure that your phone and laptop are protected with waterproof cases if possible.

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Planning downtime into your trip is always important but especially during Mercury retrograde © Ingo Roesler

6. Set aside some downtime 

This might seem like redundant travel advice, but it’s easy to get so wrapped up in our itineraries that we leave little time for rest and relaxation. Overall, Mercury retrograde is meant to be a time where we reassess which aspects of our lives are working and which are not. It’s not ideal for setting changes into motion, but rather figuring out what changes are necessary. Encourage an epiphany by setting aside some time to do nothing. 

Diana Rose adds that, 'This upcoming Mercury retrograde is in Scorpio, so that might mean travel comes with a darker or deeper edge to it. You might be halfway across the world perusing local wares at a market, but flash back to the last Christmas when your grandma was still alive. Be ready for some unexpected emotional processing and don't cling too tightly to your vision of an ideal, carefree vacation.'

Ashleigh D. Johnson agrees, noting 'When you’re faced with a delay or hitch, take a moment to breathe and reframe. Mercury wants you to rethink, review, and occasionally redo.'

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