“Never ask someone where they’re going before they’re about to leave.”
My informant reminded me of his relationship to the superstition: “I’m sure you remember this one better than I do, since you’re the one who always asks the question before Mummy and Dad go anywhere. But anyway, I’m not sure if it’s just a family thing or if other people do it too, but every time Mummy and Dad are about to leave somewhere and one of us kids has the stupid idea to ask them where they’re going, we get a shouting. Why? Because you’re not supposed to ask someone where they’re going before they get there, even if it’s like just to the grocery store or something. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s some kind of weird jinx or something. They never tell us why.”
As the informant rightly suggested, this superstition must be some form of a jinx on the journey that is about to begin, however long or short it may be. It’s similar to when someone is about to try something new, for example enter a competition or begin a new relationship, and someone close to them says something good about the upcoming project/endeavor, and is told promptly not to “jinx it” and to shut up. Strangely though, this jinx does not extend past travel in the family. It is only when the parents are asked where they’re headed that they are supposedly jinxed – not when something bigger or more important is about to happen.