In the weeks ahead as summer heats up and Covid-related travel restrictions continue to lift, many of us will indulge our travel urge! For all the joyful horizon-broadening aspects of travel, it can also aggravate our sensitive vāta dosha, as it uproots us from our home, our typical routines, and the food we are used to eating.
On top of that, most of us have not traveled much recently, so we may be surprised to feel more unsettled or disturbed by travel’s effects than we’re used to feeling. We may discover some unwelcome vāta-type symptoms waiting for us at our destination, such as insomnia, undue worry or anxiety, dry skin or nostrils, or constipation.
If travel lies in your future, consider bringing along your very own Ayurveda travel kit to ward off the vāta woes. Here are some of 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 flying 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, apply 2-3 drops of herbal nasya oil, which has protective herbs and essential oils steeped into it (here’s my fave), and reapply throughout your journey.
- Tea bags + a hot water bottle. Stay hydrated to keep dry vāta lubricated – but one of the worst things you can do in a plane or vehicle is drink an iced, carbonated beverage, which simply provokes vāta more. Request a cup of hot water (or bring your own while driving), and pop your own tea bag in for a dose of herbal love. (Warming and spiritual Ginger Tulsi is my favorite for air travel!)
- Ear plugs. Vāta 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!)
- 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!)
- Bag of prunes. I’m just going to say it – somedays you just need some prunes. These are one of the most reliable gentle laxatives around! Have a few while traveling, and you will feel grateful for your forethought the next morning.
- Ginger capsules. My teacher Dr. Lad recommends taking ginger capsules to prevent 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.
- Big scarf, hoodie or hat. You may not leave the house feeling cold, but if you’re flying, the plane is often colder than desired. 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. (Again, avoid blocking your side vision if driving!)
- Rose water spritz. If you will be traveling under warmer conditions, bring a spray bottle of rose water to give yourself a cooling spritz and bring you more firmly into the present moment.
- Uplifting or spiritual book/audiobook. 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 in your ears and 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 bag. What are your essential travel items? Tell us in the comments below!