Despite what the memes say, Mercury being in retrograde isn't some new cultural phenomena set to wreak havoc on our lives - the phenomenon has actually been documented since the mid-18th century. (For those who tune-out when their astrologically minded friends start jabbering, a planet is in retrograde when it appears to be orbiting backwards.)
Mercury rules over communication, technology and travel, which means that for the three-and-a-half weeks it's in retrograde, wires are more likely to be crossed and travel plans go haywire. In short: this is the astrological equivalent of the apocalypse.
Call us dramatic, but we're not here to let the cosmos make your trip become a complete horror show. When the planets aren't aligned, follow this guide.
Astrological travel advice for when the cosmos isn't on your side.
1. Be on time
Scrap that, arrive four hours early. This is no time for a laissez-faire attitude towards lateness. Check in to your flight the night before, allow enough time to get lost trying to find your platform (and for it to change once you find it) and don't for one minute think that the M4 won't suddenly close when you've got a flight to Heathrow leaving in 50 minutes. Mercury loves a traffic jam.
2. Double-check everything
That nervous pat-down you do in the Uber when you think you've forgotten your passport? Do it before you get in the taxi, and certainly before you get anywhere near the gate or boarding a flight. Check what terminal you are flying into, where your connection goes from and what date you booked your hotel - you definitely booked according to different time zones, right?
Download tickets to your phone, your friends phone and screenshot them (we're still not ok with printing them, it's not worth the trees). Apple wallet should update your ticket with gate information, but tech can be trippy and there's no harm in relying on a good old-fashioned departure board.
3. Back-up your tech
Tech is an integral part of travel and is one of the key things that Mercury in retrograde likes to mess with. Missing luggage doesn't make the best start to any trip, so carry an extra charger, pack your adapter and try not to leave anything en route. Yes, the hotel usually has a spare adapter but are you not listening? Mercury takes no prisoners, so you should take no chances.
Store your kit properly (i.e. put your laptop in a protective case and not just wedged in your backpack between your water bottle and spare underwear). Take out tech-friendly travel insurance and, if you're extra like us, buy gear that protects against any liquid spillages.
4. Be clear with communication
Could mercury be the reason that your Hinge matches have plummeted? Possibly. More importantly, Mercury might be the reason that your pre-booked car flaked on you, that your hotel can't find your reservation or your friends are waiting in Chez Bouboule in Pigalle while you're flailing outside Chez Bouboule in Montorgueil.
There's no harm in reconfirming plans ahead of time and ensuring that everyone is on the same page. Iron out any mishaps long before you arrive.
5. Slow down
Just breathe. Mercury is the fastest-moving planet in our solar system, so when it appears to flip it and reverse it, we should follow suit. Stay calm, accept that mishaps are going to happen, stick your headphones in and go with the flow. This might just be the right time to book a yoga retreat in the mountains.
6. Douse yourself in peppermint oil
If all else fails, bathe in peppermint oil. Dropper it in a smoothie, apply it on your pulse points or garnish your salad with it. According to herbalists, mint appeals to Mercury's good side - kind of like a CBD gummy for fast-moving orbits. A bit too new-age for you? More logically, peppermint will help calm your nerves, purify negative thoughts and pimp your downtime. If there ever was a time for scented-bath bombs, this is it.