Would You Sit in Row 13?

With Halloween coming up soon, I am thinking this week about superstitions. Do you have any travel-related “beliefs or notions, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the

Many buildings omit the thirteenth floor
Photo by Boumenjapet

ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, or proceeding”? (Dictionary.com)  Most of us do not really believe that the number 13 is inherently unlucky. But all together we must have enough notions about it that five airlines have omitted row 13 from their airplanes. Many hotels and large buildings (including the one where I work) omit the 13th floor in their numbering – just in case. If you were given the key to room 1313 at check-in, would you ask for another room? (Not even if it is at the dark end of a very sketchy hallway?)

Numbers can give us a notion of good luck too. JetBlue has two flights to Las Vegas with numbers that certainly are not randomly assigned. Not being familiar with dice games, I am not sure whether JetBlue’s flight 777 from Boston brings better luck than flight 711 from JFK.

Do you carry a particular thing for good luck? A lucky coin, rabbit’s foot, four leaf clover, a scrap of red ribbon or fabric might be the thing you carry, not really for actual luck, but just because you don’t want to tempt fortune to change. Doing research for this posting I read about a woman who always carries a piece of a very soft blanket in her carry-on luggage; she had flown recently without getting it out of the tote to hold on her lap, and she felt unusually nervous during take-off.

Some people like to do something for luck rather than entrust luck to a thing. One traveler makes a point of patting the side of the plane as he enters it. I guess he is saying “Whoa, big fella, and thanks.”  My husband usually pulls his watch out to time the number of seconds from the power surge as we start take-off until the wheels leave the ground. He has never crashed on take-off. Is there a connection?

Some superstitions seem to act out sound psychological

A minute in a rocking chair might avert bad luck
Photo by Jennifer Nickert

principles. Many people feel that it is bad luck to have to go back at the start of a trip for something forgotten. Various remedies are suggested to “undo” the bad luck which would ensue from returning. If you sit down, especially in a rocking chair, or count to ten, you can proceed on the trip without incident. In such a forced pause, perhaps travelers are able to regain the calm which was upset by the interruption. In some societies, such a pause is planned as people sit on their suitcases for a short time just inside the door before they launch on a trip; that would provide the same opportunity to think through everything again before starting out. One other remedy for having to turn back is to spit over your left shoulder; maybe that works best psychologically for some personalities.

One other sound practice one woman reported was always leaving the house clean and all the bills paid before she started a trip. She didn’t have a “superstitious” reason for doing this. She just likes to have an unburdened mind while traveling and not be upset at the end of it all returning to a messy house.

Travel writer Grace Kim summed it up nicely – “In life and travel, fortune decides too many factors. Superstitions feed into this lack of control and the desire to gain it back.”

One person’s silliness might be another’s sound practice. What do you do to regain “control” over the randomness of travel? I would love to hear from you!

18 October 2012

Boundaries divide. Travel Unites.

About Travel Unites

A travel agent since 1994, I want people to get together for greater understanding across boundaries.
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