Tarot Top 5: Travel Edition

Meet what is quite possibly my One True Love… Travel! Although, unlike most wanderers I am pretty finicky about where I go, how I get there, where I stay (read: bathroom conditions) and what I do. So it comes as no surprise that I am also very particular about the kinds of tarot cards I bring along with me when I go out of town or travel abroad.

Travel doesn't leave a whole lot of time for card-slinging, but I always make sure I have at least one deck on me. On my last big trip, I traveled to the States and to Europe and gasp, FORGOT my deck at home (I realized this when I was five minutes away from the airport). I immediately bought a deck… and made a pact to buy one in every city I visited.

I'm kicking off this year with a bunch of local beach trips, and am gearing up for a big Eurotrip again late this year with friends. You can bet I'm not going to leave without checking my bag at least thrice!

Here are my top picks for decks to bring along with you when you're off to roam the world.

1. Dame Darcy Mermaid Tarot (by Dame Darcy). My most used deck of 2016, this practically went with me everywhere. It's my most dog-eared deck and I'm in love with the slight creases and jadedness that goes with its wear. I feel this deck is great for travel because the card stock is pretty hardy — thin enough for people you meet along the way to shuffle (this is why you always need to bring a deck with you), but thick enough to withstand frequent use. Visually, it's ideal for travel because it takes you across the seas, even in and out of it. Who doesn't love a good view of the ocean when you're up in the clouds, right?

2. Tarot Mucha (inspired by Alfonse Mucha, Lo Scarabeo). Special mention goes out to this Rider Waite Smith inspired deck, because this was the deck I picked up at Enchantments in New York when I realized I didn't have a pack of tarot cards on me. This Art Nouveau deck is reminiscent of the museum visits and old buildings I love frequenting when I travel. Because it's an RWS deck, it was easy for me to pull meanings on the fly even if I didn't have time to prep and study with it exclusively. Bonus is the really lovely box this comes with. You can throw this in your rucksack and not have to worry about getting your cards banged up. (That said, be careful with your riffle shuffling because the laminate does have a tendency to peel and chip).

3. Spirit Speak Tarot (by Mary Elizabeth Evans, Spirit Speak). This deck is close to my heart, not only because its quirky black and white illustrations are exactly my style, but because I first came across it while traveling, in a quirky little store in Abbott Kinney in Venice. I love tarot cards that are smaller than usual — they fit in your purse and they don't overwhelm your hands. The little white book that comes with this deck is fun (but if your vision isn't 20/20, it may be a challenge to read due to size), and I can imagine just keeping it in my purse as I travel so I can pull it out while waiting for the next train, or on the subway on to my next stop. The Spirit Speak box is perfectly protective, and the fact that its Fool card depicts a girl with a backpack, looking off into the distance where a train is on its way in is a sure sign that this is the one travel deck you'll want to take along with you.

4. Black Lilly Tarot (by Aya Rosen). This is my latest deck acquisition that falls under the "size I love" category. Aya Rosen's art has all the elements I look for in tarot imagery—it's evocative, modern, and unique. The little white book that comes with this deck is compact and provides pretty general definitions for the cards. It's because of this that I find this deck to be a smart choice for travel—the art is so rich that it leaves a lot of room for speculation and meditation. I can imagine bringing this deck along with you to a quiet part or to a sidewalk cafe and just journaling about it. While the art is enough to pull inspiration from, being in a brand new place with this deck can offer fresh and surprising insights that you wouldn't have come up with otherwise. PS: Gamecrafter produces this deck and encases it in a very flimsy box—best to tote this in a bag if you're taking it around with you.

5. The Wild Unknown Tarot (by Kim Krans, The Wild Unknown). At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I am putting The Wild Unknown in this list (no surprise there—I would put this deck in all the lists if I could!). It's my favorite deck and brings a sense of comfort and familiarity no matter where I am. Sometimes, when you're off traveling, you do look for home—and while it may be physically impossible to do a 180 and ship yourself back to your bedroom, you can combat homesickness with the deck you're most comfortable with. It may be different for everyone, but this is what I would consider my "safest" set of cards. For practical purposes, I think this deck was one of the first self-published ones that really set the bar in terms of packaging. This box is going to keep your cards well preserved no matter where you go.