So here they are… my absolute MUST travel Tips based on Ayurvedic knowledge.
Tip #1 – Hydrate, Oleate, Lubricate!
Air travel in particular is very cooling drying, and can cause bowel irregularity, skin issues, digestive disruption, and join pain. You need hydration and lubrication in both water and viscous forms. We think of the body as being over 70% “water”… but really, that liquidity in the body, isn’t exactly water, and much of it is a more viscous or oily texture. In particular, your sensitive mucosa lining on the inside, and the 7 layers of skin on the inside need to be protected and lubricated with both water hydration and oil lubrication (called oleation in ayurveda). So I use the following hacks…
- Fresh Water and Herbal Tea – caffeine (though it may be necessary on a 6am flight) de-hydrates… and travel itself dehydrates. Water always helps (but avoid any cold, iced water). Herbal tea is warm, and the introduction of the qualities of the herbs help encourage deeper cellular uptake of the H2O… My travel blend was recommended to me by Dr. Vasant Lad when I was in Ayurveda school – a Ginger Tea Bag, a Licorice* Tea Bag and One Cinnamon Stick. The combination keeps you warm, regular, hydrated and lubricated. Chamomile, Valerian or Jatamamsi are great add too if you tend to get anxious or insomnia when you travel. On a flight, you can simply bring a travel beverage vessel and walk back to the flight attendant area (chance to stretch your legs!) to ask them to re-fill it with hot water as needed.
- Oil Up – The morning of your travel day, oil your entire body (even the insides of your nostrils – yes stick a pinkie up there). Normally you can do this BEFORE you shower as a daily practice, however on travel days, I do this after showering, so the oil stays with me and prevents drying. Use organic coconut oil, apricot oil, sesame oil, almond oil or even a great ayurvedic herbalized oil like THIS ONE.
- Hydrated Food – eat with coconut oil, olive oil, or ghee and keep your meals moist and nourishing (more on this in tip #3) – it’s important to know that your food can hydrate or dry you out, depending on what you eat. This is true for vata types all the time, but especially important the day before, day of and day after travel.
Tip #2 – Stay Regular (yes, I mean poop, but that’s not all)
It’s extremely important in general to keep with your regularly scheduled programming. This is true all the time, but especially true when you are traveling (though it can be very hard to do!). According to vedic knowledge, each time of day is ruled by specific subtle and sacred qualities, and the more you align with and “plug into” those subtle qualities, the healthier and more vibrant you will be! For example, when the sun is at it’s zenith point in the sky (around noon), your internal sun (digestive fire) is also at it’s zenith point. For this reason, Ayurveda recommends that, if possible, you eat your main meal of the day (with the heaviest protein, carbohydrate, and yes, even dessert) around noon, making lunch the biggest meal of the day. Although this may not be sustainable for your current life situation, it is an example to help you understand that the movement of the sun influences your internal state.
Based on the natural rhythms of your body and the sun, it’s important to eat at regular times, sleep at night, and wake early (with the roosters even) … so TRY to keep at least 3 things very regular when travel – maybe 1) one of your meal times, 2) your wake up time and 3) your daily herbal tea times. The more you regulate your outer activity, the more you regulate your internal activity, including your metabolism and your poops! Oh yes, and speaking of poop, the week prior to and during your travel, you can amp up your bowel regularity with a good dose of daily probiotics as well as some supportive herbs for digestion (like this one that will improve digestion and decrease gas and bloating) and bowel care (like this one, which is non-habit forming). If you find it difficult to sleep when traveling, it’s important to start your bedtime routine a half hour before bed (and try to go to be by 10pm!)… you can turn off the tech, oil massage your feet, drink some chamomile or valerian or jatamamsi tea (here’s a great one) and drift off.
Tip #3 – Get Fired Up & Nourished
Your agni (digestive fire and metabolic processes) can get really thrown out of whack when you travel. When this goes out the window, your immune response suffers, as does your sleep, bowel movements, skin and mental state. Keep your inner fire supported and your body nourished by eating warm, cooked, nourishing foods – especially the day before, the day of, and the day after travel… this means
- AVOID raw, cold, iced foods like salads, iced drinks or the worst, ice cream
- AVOID dry foods like popcorn, super dry crackers, hard cheeses or rice cakes
- Increase warm, soothing spicy soup and soothing, sweet porridge – think baby food!
- Increase your sweet and sour tastes (like maple syrup, whole grains and lemon, lime and apple cider vinegar)
- Increase your healthy fats – avocado, coconut oil, ghee, olive oil
- Himalayan salt, black pepper, and mild spices like cumin, coriander and fennel improve digestion, decrease gassiness and increase nutrient absorption.
- A little dab of wine balances vata – NOT during travel (and not if you are pregnant), but once you’ve grounded for a day or so, a little red wine can in medicinal amounts help balance your digestive fire (especially vata-types)
Now… don’t be neurotic… if you go to the gelato capitol of the world, you darn well will get some gelato (or even I will role my ayurvedic eyes)… just maybe get cinnamon flavor, or make sure to do some digestive balancing afterwords with some herbs or herbal teas. And if you go to the Caribbean you better eat some raw fruit!
Of course, you want to have FUN when you travel… and it may seem like it’s the perfect time to throw your routines and healthy regimens out the window… but this is where the MORE you take care of yourself the more fun you’ll be able to have! I mean, how fun is it to be constipated, catch a cold, and have insomnia?! Ultimately these kinds of simple routines of self-care FREE you… so your body and mind don’t hold you back and you can truly have the experiences (outside, and inside) you want! Safe travels!
These are general recommendations, but nearly safe and effective for everyone. You can always get more personalized recommendations by learning about your individual constitution through study or a one-on-one consultation.
*Licorice should be avoided during pregnancy. Although some studies have shown it to be beneficial, the general recommendation is that licorice should be avoided by those with high blood pressure.