Travel Superstitions

Superstition. Some people believe them and others poo poo them. Me? I fall somewhere in the middle and figure that any extra “luck” I can pull my way, all the better. So when it comes to travel, there are a few things I always have with me to ensure a safe and good trip.

  • I always take a tiny angel pin that I was given by someone who held my heart tightly for years. This little pin is stuck onto my passport wallet and never moves. That little angel has brought me good luck for the past 17 years.
  • I always have a small photo of my house, dogs, and family affixed into my journal. I’m not sure why I carry these – maybe subconsciously I think that if I can see them I will return to them?
  • Finally, I always keep at least one coin from the countries to which I want to return. I got my first coin from a lovely person I met in Mexico when I was 12 years old. The coin he gave me has taken me back to Mexico more times that I can count and proves the myth. =)

When I started to research the travel superstitions of others I found a few that spanned countries and continents and a few that were really unique. Here is my run-down of the top 5 travel superstitions from around the world…at least based on my non-scientific method of asking strangers in airports to answer my weird questions.

  1. End of the week, end of everything? Most common seems to be NOT to start your journey on a Friday. Best I can tell, this is prevalent among Catholic nations and has something to do with Jesus being crucified on a Friday. Conversely, Sunday is a fortuitous day to begin your trip, likely due to the Resurrection of Christ.
  2. Numbers are key! In many parts of the world, the number 13 is omitted from flights and hotel rooms. 666 and 911 are not usually used either, and all the flight numbers lost on September 11th have been retired by most major airlines. In Italy, the number 17 is considered unlucky because it is an anagram for Latin meaning ‘I have lived’ essentially meaning ‘my life is over’. Incidentally, I thought it was cool that this was known as heptakaidekaphobia. Say THAT three times fast.
  3. Lucky charms are universal.
    • The St. Christopher’s medal is a popular choice, as St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers (and children, too).
    • Evil eye pendants and Hamsa hands are often seen as tools to keep traveler’s safe. I was given a Hamsa hand in Jerusalem that hangs on my office wall – so far, so good.
    • When I was in Cambodia, I saw a lot of Ganesh (or Ganesha), who symbolizes protection, tolerance, and generosity. If that’s not the travel trifecta I don’t know what is.
    • In New Zealand, I saw tons of Hei Matau pendants worn by sailors and surfers, alike. In Maori mythology this signifies abundance, prosperity, and to provide a safe journey over water.
  4. Getting off on the right foot…or the left. In my informal poll, I asked a lot of people how they board the plane. Surprisingly, a lot of folks make this a conscious act of stepping onto the plane with a deliberate foot and several of them admitted to patting the exterior of the plane’s body for an added boost of luck. Incidentally, three people I asked added that they always wear a wooden ring when they travel so they can “knock wood” before taking off. Whatever works, right?
  5. Babies, we need more babies!! This one cracks me up BUT I still do it. When you board, look for babies. Years ago, a friend who has traveled as much (if not more than) me told me that crying babies on board are good luck. So, now if there are babies on board I do everything I can to make them cry. JUST KIDDING – they usually works to that perfectly well on their own. Apparently, this works with nuns, too.

There you have it, something to chat about during your next cocktail party or as you wait to board the airplane. Did I miss your favorite travel superstition? Let me know with a comment and thanks for visiting JavaAndJunket!

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