Traveler's USA Notebook

Your guide to travel news,  discoveries and  pleasures


Signs on the Road


Mercury Retrograde




The Astrology of Travel

If you're planning to run away and play, it's exciting to bring along a friend. You never know whether you will still be speaking when the trip is over, but this only adds to the fun. In selecting an earthling to travel with, remember that any of these people could be your companions.

Heed well our guide to...


  • ARIES (21 March to 20 April): These babies like to get their way, so if you're travelling with Rams, let them pick the place, and be ready for lots of activity. The only way an Aries will tolerate an organised tour is when it's in a dangerous place they can brag about later....Uganda or Afghanistan might appeal. Aries people have a dark secret: they desperately need to feel loved wherever they go. This probably rules out Paris.

  • TAURUS (21 April to 21 May): In merciful contrast with Aries, Taurus folk are easy to please. Give them nice quiet boring Nature, mounds of wonderful-but-simple food and drink, things that feel good to touch and presto!---Paradise. A big sexy goosedown bed in Austria, an Irish farmhouse holiday, or a massage on the Ginza are all it takes.

  • GEMINI (22 May to 21 June): Geminis like to keep moving, getting in a variety of sights and experiences. They can pick up a new language in ninety minutes flat. This lust for cramming it all in is certain to be exhausting, so make sure there's a day here and there to hug a tree or gawp at the sea....or read awhile. Geminis must travel with books. They will spend a fortune to go someplace exotic just so they can read a ripping yarn like "Serpentine" in the appropriate locale. They like Iceland, whose government was formed under the sign of Gemini.

  • CANCER (22 June to 23 July): Moody, macho Moon-Children---the most famous of these being ol' Papa Hemingway---ache for that movable feast of food and feelings. So give 'em France for food and Spain for mood, but no matter where you're headed, let them fling some of their things around the hotel room to make it feel like home, see, and pack an extra case for the teddy bear. Amsterdam, Venice, and Milan, say the stargazers of yore, are Cancerian cities.

  • LEO: (24 July to 23 August) If you're looking to live like royalty, go with a Leo. They can go anywhere as long as it's first class. Should the Leo in question happen to be on a Chicken McNugget budget---just for temporaries, you understand, while the Bentley is out on a long loan to a dear, dear friend, the Earl---opt for any cheap and cheerful spot which guarantees loads of hot sunshine. I've never heard of a Leo turning down a trip to Rome, either. The stars say it's a Leo hangout.

  • VIRGO (24 August to 23 September): These marvellously brainy and analytical fusspots of the zodiac prefer pristine places, but secretly they hanker for chaos too. In truth Virgos will put up with anything as long as they can get a bath daily and there are no bugs in the food. Consequently they'll get just as much of a kick out of India as Switzerland, for different reasons. Other Virgo cities are Paris, Athens and Jerusalem. 

  • LIBRA (24 September to 23 October): Refined Librans go ga-ga gazing at art galleries, and inasmuch as the top Libra sports are shopping and meeting what they refer to as attractive people, any refined and pretty setting will suit. When pretiiness palls, sure Libra vacation winners are Copenhagen, Vienna, and China. They hate travelling alone.

  • SCORPIO (24 October to 22 November): Oddly, these night hawks need sun. Sun is the only outside force, besides love, that can shake out the snakes and tensions in Scorpio's throbbing, barely controlled libido. Most of Morocco, especially Fez, comes under the sign of intrigue, as does the U.S.S.R.. But wherever Scorpios go, they want power over the agenda, plenty of liquid to swim in (it's a water sign) and someone to snuggle with. If travelling alone, Scorpios enjoy closely investigating the natives.

  • SAGITTARIUS (23 November to 21 December): Like their Gemini counterparts, the Archers can go anywhere and thrive---with an extra bonus in Saggy-ruled Australia and Budapest. Sailing, sports and action are what they like best...and a great number of Sagittarians like to know all about the different local religions too. Keep an eye on them, though. They'll try everything, eat anything, and go native fast.

  • CAPRICORN (22 December to 20 January): Rx for these workaholics is serious loafing, but you can't get them to go, usually, unless the trip's got a business excuse or a tax write-off. Once you do tear them away from Their Work it takes them a few days just to unwind. They love deserts and status, so Palm Springs would satisfy both drives. Any place with fabulous architecture---especially Oxford, London, India, Burma and Mexico City---will thrill Capricorn. Tip: don't leave them alone too long or you'll catch them making deals.

  • AQUARIUS (21 January to 19 February): Hamburg and Salzburg, Japan and Russia all come under the sign of Aquarius, but any spot will do as long as there's no schedule and lots of mind-food for these freedom loving folk. Robots and gadgets make Aquarians happy...they go where they can fuel their weird hobbies. You'll catch them roaming the Halls of Science, at a Holography exhibit, or stocking up on 25 bottles of special blue batik dye that you can only get in Amsterdam. Count on an Aquarian to strike up a conversation with the locals and make friends easily. Every one of these Air signs has a special off-beat retreat.

  • PISCES (20 February to 20 March): Magic and/or a tropical atmosphere is just the setting in which Pisces can melt, merge, become one with and generally sponge up the environment. Look, most of the year kind, psychic Pisces people are trying not to become overwhelmed by the harshness and sadness they see around them. Fish folks should insist on a gentle vacation. Fancy a miracle or two? Alexandria, Campostella, or any place on the planet where there's a beach and a great, crashing sea will work wonders. They do not want to run into whimpering, pleading beggars on vacation. They get enough of that at home        ---DK-S.

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And yes! si! da! we do special maps based on your horoscope so you can see where the best spots will be for you to take your next holiday. It's called ASTRO*CARTO*GRAPHY, and we  will make you a map of the world which tells you where to go for love, luck, fortune, prominence, real estate, danger, and even weight loss.

Before you scoff, the ASTRO*CARTO*GRAPHY map for J.F.K., shows his Pluto line (danger) running straight through Dallas. President Clinton's line is near Buenos Aires, but don't worry---he was warned and he stayed away. (visit our article in Mother Jones magazine).

Many people report finding love on their Venus lines. If  you wamt am astrologer to help you with your world for spookily accurate analysis, and recommended lifetime investments for the globetrotter or lazy armchair traveller, click here.

Tricky Tickets!
When Mercury is Retrograde

Buy flexible tickets...often you will need to revise travel plans, so find out the rules and penalties for altering tix, and ask if you can go standby in the event of a change. Hang loose...often departures and arrivals are delayed, even cancelled. Travel all you like when Mercury is’s an adventure. If you are booking tickets far in advance for the dream trip of a lifetime, and you want to lock in a solid itinerary, book your trip when Mercury is not retro, and choose a date of departure when Mercury will not be retro, and also when the Moon is not Void of Course. (Check out the Void of Course Moon Tables, too.) Enjoy, and Bon Voyage!

More  Mercury Secrets:

Hmmm...Let’s not get too superstitious here, gang, but don’t sign important stuff when Mercury looks as if it’s going backward in its orbit. It does this backward boogie in a three-week stretch, three or four times a year.

Letters get delayed sometimes. If you’re sending some Wedgwood to Uncle Nigel you’re safer if you deliver it yourself---those packages will rattle just a touch too much otherwise.

Travel gets weird. Often the buses go on strike, or the plane’s delayed. Your hosts said they’d meet you on the left side of Princess Diana airport, and it’s bigger than you thought, and you can’t find their home phone number. Double check and have a back-up plan before you embark.

Contracts and leases that you sign now will need adjusting later. You may overlook an important clause. Or the landlord may forget to sign the thing, too. You will probably want to alter something in the contract later.

Your new music system will seem to be your pride and joy when you buy it on the backward boogaloo, but when that rewind button sticks for the twenty-eighth time, you won’t think it’s so cute. Ditto for all the electronic junk, computers, cars and mechanical furshlugginers you buy now. Don’t buy major appliances now. You can buy other things. Cars and boats may perform surprisingly well on a retrograde Mercury, if you don’t mind the sound of little bits and bobs rattling ans squeaking and smoking.

Writers, hacks, and editors beware! The stuff that gets handed in during a Mercury backward period needs redoing, if it gets handed in at all. Don’t believe the deadlines you give your writers---those jaw-jerkers will promise you the Moon but they can’t deliver on a Mercury retrograde.

Whatever gave you the impression that Mercury retrograde was bad? It’s all in how you look at it. Use it to clean out the drawers and files, edit your book report, revise, rethink, retread, and tidy up. You can stall, you see, and hold off your decisions on major matters until Mercury goes direct again. It’s cleverer to stall at these times because more information will come to you during and after the retro. Why push your affairs when the tide is out?

Not everything will go goo-goo when Mercury marches backward, but the odds are definitely in favour of Mr. Myxlptk. Don’t sweat the small stuff, but if it’s a big deal, check the Don’t Sign, Don’t Buy, Mercury Retrograde dates. And here they are...

   Reprinted from Secrets From a Stargazer's Notebook by Debbi Kempton-Smith  Copyright 1982, 1999.
Don’t Sign, Don’t Buy---Mercury is Retrograde:


20 January 2015 to 12 February 2015
18 May 2015 to 12 June 2015
16 September 2015 to 10 October 2015


4 January 2016 to 26 January 2016

28 April 2016 to 22 May 2016

29 August 2016 to 23 September 2016

18 December 2016 to 9 January 2017

You can find the complete tables of Mercury Retrograde
 from 1930 to 2030, along with eclipse tables, moon tables and 
many other useful look-ups in Debbi Kempton-Smith's book,
Secrets From a Stargazer's Notebook:Making Astrology Work for You
To order, click here

For more astrology, click here

Signs on the Road