Worldwide superstitions

Superstitions have long played a part in shaping travel behaviours across the globe. From black cats to sitting on suitcases we’ve created ‘Worldwide Superstitions’, a collection of international urban legends, old wives’ tales and curious good-luck tricks, playfully captured by London-based artist, Egle Zvirblyte.

They can’t guarantee that your luggage won’t go walkabout but with luck on your side these superstitions might go some way towards ensuring your travels go smoothly. Don’t leave it to chance…

India

“Have you got your passport?!” “Where are the car keys?!” “I swear I put them right here?” We’ve all had that last minute scramble as we run through the door. You may want to think twice if you’re in India. Indians believe that it’s bad luck to call out to someone who is leaving the house. So if your backpacking buddy is off to continue their travels, make sure you say your goodbyes well in advance!    

India

Italy

Dare to travel on Friday 13th? If you’re Italian, sure! For Italians it’s the 17th to watch out for. The Roman numeral for the number 17 is an anagram of VIXI which translates to ‘I have lived’, indicating death. In case you were wondering why the airport was so eerie… cue the tumbleweed. 

Italy

China

Speaking of unlucky numbers, in China the Cantonese word for the number 4 sounds very similar to the word for death. Can’t find the 4th floor after checking in to your hotel? Don’t worry, you’re not being a classic tourist. It’s often removed as references to 4 are seen as bad luck.

China

Russia

Who knew that sitting on your suitcase meant more than just cramming your clothes in at the last minute? According to Russians, sitting on your luggage and taking a moment to reflect before you travel is actually a way of bringing you good luck. So after you've finally got the zips together, sit a second longer and take a breath.

Russia

Serbia

Have you got your wellies at the ready? You might need them if you’re about to set off on an adventure in Serbia. Serbians believe that someone spilling water on your path before you set out will guarantee a happy end to your travels. So much for avoiding that soggy British summer.

Serbia

Norway

Sage? Check. Garlic? Check. Salt? Check. The start of your grocery list or a recipe for warding off evil spirits... In Norway simply saying 'Tvi Tvi' will suffice. Used as another way to say 'break a leg', Norwegians believe putting a friendly 'curse' on someone you like stops evil spirits from bothering them. Time to step away from your mum's pantry...

Norway

UK

The black cat is a Halloween staple in the UK, but are these felines friend or foe? The most common belief is that a black cat crossing your path is actually a good omen, thought to bring luck and prosperity. Looks like the cat's out the bag!

UK

Japan

Here's some food for thought whilst you're plumping up your pillows at night. The Japanese believe sleeping with your pillow facing North will shorten your life. Better dig that compass out when it comes to bedtime! 

Japan

Romania

Heading straight out the door? If you're in Romania, make sure it's the same one you entered through. Many Romanians believe that leaving a house through a different door will bring bad luck. Not so fortunate if you own a mansion then...  

Romania

Portugal

If you're travelling to Portugal it's probably best to leave your moonwalk at home. It's believed to be bad luck to walk backwards as it teaches the devil your path and invites 'him' into your life. Time to put your best foot forward!

Portugal

About the illustrator

Egle Zvirblyte is a Lithuanian artist and illustrator. She has studied Film and Spatial Design in London, continuing to work in set design and later focusing on her own practice. While living in Melbourne, Bali, Tokyo and Barcelona, Egle has been working as an illustrator in advertising, magazines and product design, while developing her art through painting, installations and street art.

Egle's work is bright and energetic, it looks at human relationships and the surrounding universe in a humorous and irreverent way. 

Egle now splits her time between London and Vilnius.

Egle Zvirblyte

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