How to travel under Mercury Rx

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sunrise from something thousand metres

So anyways, I’m one of those people who doesn’t sleep on planes…at all. I never have.. As a result, I’m writing this after being awake for approximately 40 hours, so any spelling mistakes are the result of tiredness and not Mercury retrograde….Which leads me neatly into a segue to Mercury Rx and travel.

As you know, I’m a huge FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) type- you know, the opportunity you miss out on is the one you never get…or something like that… This means that while I’ll give due respect to the possibility of things going awry during these few weeks, I’m not putting my life on hold for it.

Last night we flew home from Bali, after a truly fabulous holiday. Despite knowing better, I’d booked our airfares during the last Mercury Rx- I had to, it was a 24 hr Garuda special, and the price was way too good. When the call came a couple of weeks ago from the airline to let me know that our direct flight Denpasar- Sydney, was now Denpasar-Jakarta- Sydney, I complained a little and then shrugged my shoulders. It is what it is. Besides, I’d never been to Jakarta airport.

I prepared. I charged all devices, packed real books and my journal for any extended terminal or tarmac time, had my chargers, house keys, a change of clothes in my carry on, and added an additional 30 minutes to the transfer time.

I’d also re-confirmed my pick-up at Sydney, and had copies of all travel docs. Additional airports in Indonesia also mean additional airport taxes- which the airline usually forgets to exclude from their advices- so into the back of the wallet went a 500,000 IDR contingency. Sorted.

Everything went smoothly. Our luggage was booked through, and we had boarding passes for all legs of travel. We paid our 75,000 IDR each to leave Denpasar and were advised we’d be up for another 200,000 IDR each to leave Jakarta. It went smoothly, that is, until we landed in Jakarta.

Being a domestic flight from Denpasar, we had to be bused from where we’d landed- at the international terminal- across to the domestic terminal. ‘It’s going to be like Bangkok,’ hubby worried. ‘We’d better not get on a plane next to the one we just got off.’

From here we walked back to the international terminal we’d just been bused from, and cleared customs. Along the way we checked with airport staff about the airport tax. How much and where is it paid?

‘Sorry, don’t understand.’

‘Pay inside. Don’t know how much. Sorry.’

‘Garuda…is free.’

‘Pay inside. Don’t know how much today.’

Once through customs we checked the departures board. Our flight wasn’t on it. Hubby began to get angsty.

I checked our boarding passes- Gate E2, 23:40 departure. It’s ok, I told him. To be sure I checked the Sydney Airport site- I’d previously subscribed to updates to our flight, ‘see, our flight is scheduled to arrive, so it follows it must depart.’

‘But it’s not on the board…’

We settled down with beers, books and a final soto ayam (Indonesian chicken noodle soup) to fill in the time. At one point he got up to stretch his legs and was back within a few minutes.

‘Um, Darlin’, our flight is finally on the board…Gate E4 22.40 departure.’

I checked my watch. It was 22.36.

We hightailed it down to the gate, along with everyone else, to queue for another 3 security checks, and then to queue to pay our airport tax (that day it was 150,000IDR each…apparently- although the Americans in front of us got slugged more than that because they only had USD and miscalculated the exchange rate). After which we all sat and waited. I read- it seemed more pleasant than complaining…besides, what’s the point?

The announcements came sporadically in Indonesian, ‘blah blah blah GA712 blah blah Sydney blah blah.’ Finally the doors opened. It was 12.15.

Instead of walking down the airbridge to our flight, we walked down the air bridge to the waiting bus, were taken back to the domestic gate, back into the domestic terminal, and down another air bridge to our flight. I laughed out loud.

My long winded point? We arrived in Sydney safe and sound.

The thing is, travel and delays are part of everyday life- not isolated to Mercury Rx periods. The precautions you take are common-sense- I still recall arriving in Perth one day (during a Mercury Rx) when none, yes none, of the bags had made it onto the right plane (how does that happen?) and listening to people complaining to airline staff that they had to get their bags because their car/house keys were inside them. Really?

My tips for travelling during Mercury Rx are the same as they are at any other time of the year:

  • Check your itinerary…and then again
  • Allow extra time to get to and from the airport
  • Have a back-up plan for transfers
  • Have paper or separate digital copies of all travel documents- don’t lock the copies in your stowed luggage
  • Re-confirm all pick-up and accommodation arrangements
  • Research visa on arrival and departures taxes…In some countries, this can be a moveable target- I found a number of references on-line for Indonesia…the most reliable quoted up to 75,000IDR for domestic airports and up to 200,000 IDR for international flights.. Check also what currencies they accept payment in. Although most will accept USD, you’re exposing yourself to an exchange risk- and glares from travellers queueing behind you with the right amount in local currency.
  • Never have your keys in your stowed luggage
  • Carry chargers and a change of undies and small deodorant etc (obviously without breaching the liquid rules) in your carry-on.
  • Keep an eye on the forecast at your end destination and layer appropriately
  • Pre-charge all devices
  • Have real books for those delays on the tarmac when you can’t use devices
  • Use delays to read, write, or observe- it can be fun.
  • If possible, keep your schedule at your end destination flexible
  • Especially if in transit, verify the time-zone changes
  • Don’t stress the stuff you can’t control- sometimes random stuff just happens.
  • Watch for sunrises!

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