In honour of Friday the 13th, we have compiled a list of the top travel superstitions from around the world. While you may not be the type of person to be wary of black cats, knowing some of these myths could give you an edge in your next international meeting. Being familiar with local customs will not only help you avoid some serious faux pas, but will show the time and effort you put into preparing for your meeting.
Read below to see some of the top travel business superstitions from around the world.
Travel Superstitions from Around the World: Entering a Room
When entering any room, it’s always best to get things off on the right foot. In Spain, please take this literally. It is considered lucky to enter a room with your right foot. Maybe this won’t be the dealbreaker when meeting your Spanish clients, but a little luck never hurt anyone.
Having a meeting with a Russian colleague? Maybe you should wait until you’re both in the room before shaking hands. In Russia, it is considered a bad omen to shake hands over the threshold of a door.
And finally, when you get to your room for the evening, knock three times before entering. It is a western superstition that by knocking three times, you are giving any ghosts or restless spirits in the room advanced notice of your arrival. By giving this courteous notice, these spirits will either clear out of the room or at least leave you, their polite guest, alone for your stay.
Travel Superstitions: Numbers Games
Numbers affect many things in business travel. Whether it’s the date and time, or the number of guests, knowing local customs can help you set up the best possible meeting.
In most western cultures, the number 13 is considered unlucky, especially on a Friday. Businesses tend to book fewer meetings, individuals travel less, and there are fewer trades on the stock market. It is estimated that the economy loses almost a billion USD because of lost business on Friday the 13th. Friday the 13th may not be the best day to book your meeting. It is, however, a good day to book an inexpensive flight, as flights are harder to sell thanks to travel superstitions.
The exception to the rule about the 13th is Italy; in Italy, 13 is a lucky number. That is unless, you are considering the number of people at a table, in which case 13 should be avoided just as much as Italy’s unlucky number: 17.
In Japan, the number 9 is considered unlucky; maybe it’s best to reschedule that 9AM meeting until later in the day. Similarly, in China, the number 4 is considered unlucky, due to how close its pronunciation is to the word “death.” If you are visiting China, it would be best to reschedule your 4PM meeting. Instead, book it at 8AM, as 8 is considered a lucky number.
Travel Superstitions: Dining Myths
There are many different customs and superstitions that surround mealtime in each culture. Reading up on local mealtime etiquette before having a business meal is a smart idea. To start you off, we have some of the top dining superstitions from around the world to help you navigate your next dinner meeting.
In several countries, including Mexico, Russia, and Italy, it is considered bad luck to pass salt from hand to hand. Instead, should your dining companion request the salt, place the salt on the table by them, and remove your hand quickly, so as not to tempt any ill spirits.
Having a dinner meeting in Asia? Careful where you stick your chopsticks! In Japan and China it is considered at best rude, and at worst, a bad omen, to stick your chopsticks upright in your bowl of rice. (It resembles the sticks of incense that are burned after someone passes.)
With so many customs to keep track of, the bread basket may seem like the safest thing on the table, but be careful. In Russia, there is a myth that the amount of bread you waste in your lifetime will be measured against your soul in order to grant you entry to heaven. Make sure you don’t take more than you need! However, exercise caution when placing the bread back, as in France, it is considered unlucky to place bread upside down on the table.
Brushed up on your top travel superstitions and feeling ready to travel? Corporate Stays has the perfect apartment for your next business trip. We have our Signature Collection apartments across Canada and partners around the world.