In the weeks ahead, many of us will travel to visit loved ones during the holidays. Travel is one of the classic vata-aggravating activities, as it uproots us from our home, our typical routines, and the food we are used to.
Unfortunately, this mass travel bug sends us out into the ethers exactly when vata is already elevated by the seasonal influences of colder temperatures, windy weather, and dry conditions both inside and out. What is a student of Ayurveda to do?!
Worry not – here are my most reliable “healthy travel” must-haves, which I store permanently IN my carry-on luggage, so I always have them on hand when I am scooting down the highway or 30-thousand feet above ground.
- Nasya oil. Before leaving your house, lubricate the inside of your nostrils with a few drops of sesame oil (or whatever oil you have on hand), to help the mucus membrane to better defend against airborne bacteria and viruses. Even better, use nasya oil, which has protective herbs and essential oils steeped into it (here’s my fave).
- Moist, nutritious snacks. It’s important to EAT when you get hungry while traveling. It’s too easy to get caught in a spot with no food, or dry light crunchy vata-aggravating options, or only rest stop junk food. Bring your own home-made snacks (try these date nut ladoos, which travel really well). In airport or take-out restaurants, the best choice is often SOUP. (And then try to eat only when you are actually hungry rather than just because you are at a gas station or a terminal!)
- Ginger capsules. My teacher Dr. Lad recommends taking ginger capsules to offset jet lag and other travel woes. Take 2 capsules an hour before take off, and if your flight takes more than 2 hours, take 2 more capsules every second hour you are airborne.
- Tea bags (Warming and spiritual ginger tulsi is my favorite for travel!). One of the worst things you can do in a plane or vehicle is drink an iced, carbonated beverage, which simply provokes vata even more. Request a cup of hot water, and pop your own tea bag in for a dose of herbal love.
- Ear plugs. Vata is particularly stimulated by loud sounds, and airplanes, trains and cars can all be little capsules of loud noise. I find the foam ear plugs to be most comfortable – and they’re typically the cheapest too. (Of course, don’t wear these if you’re doing the driving!)
- Big scarf, hoodie or hat. My choice is a wide scarf that I put over my head and ears, serving also as blinders, helping me feel protected, warm and in my own little world.
- Uplifting or spiritual book. I admit I will readily indulge in a People magazine if given an extra half-hour in an airport newsstand – but I have found that I feel more grounded and connected to what matters when I can tuck my mind into a peaceful or heart-centered book once I’m seated – better yet if I’ve already started it while at home.
- Sesame oil in a 3 ounce bottle, inside a zip-loc bag. When you get to your destination, give yourself a little self-massage with oil – or at least put a little oil on your feet, crown and hands. You won’t believe what a difference this makes.
Go ahead and gather a few of these items right now so you don’t have to think about it later, and pop them into your carry-on. Then let me know how your next trip goes!