Welcome back to the third and final part of my series on healthy travel! You’ve planned wisely, packed smartly, and journeyed using strategies to best to avoid illness and counteract the stress that travel puts on your body. Now that you’ve reached your destination, how do you best support your health? And how do you keep on track with your wellness goals while making the most of your vacation or sitting in meeting after meeting?
It's not as hard as you may think! Arm yourself with these tools and you can fully enjoy your vacation or be at the top of your game business-wise.
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UPON ARRIVAL: CLEAN THE AIR AND FEEL AT HOME
Diffuse Arborvitae essential oil immediately upon arrival. Of all the oils in my arsenal, why this one?
Arborvitae is known as the “oil of protection.” Sometimes also called the “tree of life,” it was used by the early Native Americans to treat ailments such as headaches, coughs, fevers, and rheumatic problems. It’s a natural cleansing agent (great for cleaning sprays), an effective insect repellent (I spray it to deter ants), and promotes healthy skin. Diffusing Arborvitae fights airborne gunk, providing a clean atmosphere and fresh scent. At the same time, inhaling Arborvitae produces a calming, peaceful, and grounding effect, which is much needed after traveling.
Combine Arborvitae with On Guard protective blend for an additional immune boost, particularly if you’ve recently been on an airplane. Here's a good ratio:
After you’ve cleaned the air, switch to this uplifting, yet calming diffuser blend. It's one of my favorites! It will reduce any remaining travel-related stress you’re experiencing and help you feel more at home.
If you love this blend as much as I do and want to use it often while away, use a dropper bottle or an empty essential oil bottle to make a stock blend ahead of time to carry with you (see the ratio in the image above).
BOOST YOUR ENERGY (INCLUDING COUNTERACTING JET LAG)
Spending time in nature is the best way to get rid of the excess positive ions that flooded your body while flying or driving in the car (in this case, positivity is a bad thing!). Get outside as soon as possible!
Get direct sun if weather permits. Without wearing sunglasses. Ten minutes is all your body needs to get the message about the change in time zones. This will also reduce the length and severity of your jetlag. Increasing your level of Vitamin D will also help increase your overall vitality and feeling of well-being.
Ground yourself. As soon as possible after you arrive, find a patch of grass or sand and go barefoot for at least 10 minutes, but ideally closer to 30 minutes. Earthing charges your body with negative ions, boosts circulation, and quickly reduces foot and other swelling caused by flying. If you can’t find a patch of grass or sand to ground yourself, reduce any swelling by running cold water over your feet in the bathtub for 10 minutes.
Further alleviate jetlag with essential oils. Check out this post for a great essential oil roller bottle recipe for minimizing jetlag. I roll this blend on the back of my neck and wrists as soon as I get off the plane and frequently throughout the next couple days. The combination of peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, and wild orange helps clear my head and re-energize. Revitalize through yoga. I love this revitalizing yoga practice by Yoga with Adrienne. Give it a try after you finish your grounding! Even better, do it outside as part of your grounding. You'll be killing three birds with one stone if it's also sunny! For an added energy boost, pair your yoga practice with this diffuser blend:
You can find other great diffuser blends for energy and focus by checking out this post.
GET HIGH QUALITY SLEEP
Protect your sleep. Adequate sleep helps your immune system stay strong and promotes recovery. It should be a high priority!
- When possible, time your travel to arrive or return to your lodging in time to get at least 7 hours or more of sleep.
- If you are adjusting to a new time zone, try to stay awake your first night until it's an appropriate bedtime in that location. Then go for a full night’s sleep to quickly adjust.
However, even if you are ready for bed on time, strange noises, an unfamiliar bed, excessive electrical energy stimulation, and jetlag can combine to destroy the quality and quantity of you sleep. Here are some ways to combat that:
Wind down before bed. Our bodies need time to transition from being on the go to being asleep. Giving yourself 30 minutes to one hour to unwind before bed is a critical component to a good night’s sleep. During this time, turn off your laptop, phone, or other electronics that keep you brain active or emit blue light. Blue light reduces your body's natural production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleeping and waking cycles. You could also put on amber glasses during this time to further reduce your exposure to blue light. Besides cleansing your face, brushing your teeth, and reading a book to wind down, what else should you do? Consider a bedtime yoga practice or an evening qigong flow. I love both of these to calm down from the day, center my mind, and balance my energy.
Prepare your room. Close all blinds and drapes as tightly as possible. Unplug, turn around, or cover anything that glows. Put your phone in airplane mode and, if necessary, set the alarm for the time you need to get up. Then place it as far as possible from the bed, so that you’re not tempted to look at it until morning.
Unplug all electrical appliances and gadgets. If you have trouble sleeping in hotel rooms, energy stimulation could be the reason. I am highly sensitive to EMFs and find hotel rooms overwhelming to my body with their large number of electrical appliances and swirling WIFI in a very small space. Unplugging as many things as possible allows you more control over your immediate surroundings.
Yes, completely unplugging everything from the wall, as appliances continue to transmit energy while plugged in, even when switched off or powered down. This includes the WIFI, televisions, cable boxes, alarm clocks, telephones, microwaves, hair dryers, and lamps. If it’s not beastly hot, also consider unplugging air conditioners and fans. Overseas, electrical outlets often have power switches on them. Switch these to “off” as well so that the outlet is not live.
Create some noise. Download a free white noise app on your phone or travel with an inexpensive, lightweight white noise machine. Here’s a good one to keep in your suitcase. It runs on battery and can be plugged into the wall to charge while you’re gone during the day. It won’t put out a lot of dirty energy while you’re sleeping. Diffuse essential oils that assist with falling and staying asleep. Essential oils are well known for their ability to improve sleep. Get started by checking out this post that will show you some of the best oils for sleep and give you some effective diffuser blend recipes to try.
Here’s another good combination that wasn’t included in that post. See how useful Arborvitae is becoming to you?!?
Traveling can be stressful, especially when you’re on the road for work. Here are some simple ways to tone down the stress your body is feeling:
Listen to a guided meditation. If you're new to meditation, psychologist Tara Brach offers a variety of free recorded guided meditations on her website. She's also local to those of us who live in the DC Metro area! Use stress-reducing essential oils. If you're not sure which oils those might be, check out this post on the best essential oils for stress. For even more tips, recipes, and in-depth discussion of this topic, download my free ebook!
Get some gentle exercise. Exercise is great for reducing stress (see below for additional ideas!). Search "yoga for stress relief" or "qigong for stress" on YouTube and you will find tons of practices to help take your stress level down a notch.
GET SOME EXERCISE!
Explore your destination on foot. Running and walking are my favorite ways to truly see a new place, while sneaking in some exercise. I try to go for a run soon after arriving to get a lay of the land and discover any hidden gems near where I'm staying that the travel guides didn't mention.
Exercise at home. I've traveled to many places where it wasn't safe and/or culturally acceptable for me to walk or run outside, especially alone. If doing so poses a personal security risk, head to the hotel gym and hit the treadmill or elliptical. Or try a workout that can be done in your room, the hotel gym, or at the beach. There are many at-home or no-equipment needed workouts on YouTube, but these are some of my personal favorites, all of which I've travel-tested:
Want even more great travel workouts??? Check out this Pinterest board! I’m certain it has something that will be up your alley!
Look for healthy activities that you are excited about at your destination. Find a local yoga or barre studio that offers drop-in classes. Join up with a local hiking group for a day excursion. If you’re at the beach, take a kayaking or standup paddle board lesson. Or cover more ground while burning calories by renting a bike. Most cities have bike share programs or local bike stores that rent bicycles. Some even have bike tours, complete with tour guide to help you understand the sights you are passing by.
EAT AS CLEANLY AS POSSIBLE
In my previous blog post, we discussed how to prepare to eat cleanly. The more you can research and investigate prior to your trip, the easier it will be to not go off the rails.
These were the main points:
- If possible, book a hotel room, apartment, or house that has a full kitchen.
- Prior to your departure, search online to locate grocery stores at your destination so that you can stock up with fresh, high-quality foods upon arrival.
- Prepare a list of healthy restaurants and their locations in advance. Pair the activities you are planning to do with nearby healthy restaurants so that you have a general idea of where you will eat when not cooking for yourself.
Planning to eat as cleanly as possible doesn't mean you must become a hermit or not enjoy any of the local foodie finds. When you are out, simply focus on getting maximum nutrient density, while minimizing the negative. For example:
- If you can’t get pastured meats or wild caught fish, choose lean meat cuts, since most of the health negatives in conventional meat are found in the fat.
- If you can’t find organic fruits and vegetables, chose ones that are on the EWG’s “Clean 15” list, while skipping the “Dirty Dozen.”
- Opt for vegetables to be steamed or raw when possible.
- Select hard boiled or poached eggs instead of an omelet for breakfast.
- Opt for freshly-made whole foods rather than processed or packaged products made with preservatives and unrecognizable ingredients.
Bring your own herbal detox tea bags. Herbal tea is amazing for helping your system regulate and detox. My nutritionist once recommended that I drink a quart of herbal adaptogenic and digestive teas a day, a practice which I have continued for the last three years. Most herbal tea bags available in hotels and restaurants, however, contain artificial flavors and other undesirable ingredients. They are sometimes even in plastic nylon tea bags. Please skip the tea rather than ingesting these! I bring a small box of assorted organic tea bags in my suitcase and then always carry a couple of sachets with me in my bag so that they are handy during meetings or at restaurants.
AVOID TOXIC PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS
Bring your own toiletries. Hotel-provided shampoos, conditioners, soaps, and lotions often look really pretty lined up on the bathroom countertop. However, they are typically laden with artificial fragrances and toxic chemicals, such as parabens, triclosan, and phthalates. These chemicals can mimic estrogen in your body, causing hormone (endocrine) disruption, reproductive problems, neurotoxicity, and skin irritation. They can also cause respiratory irritation, headache, sneezing, and watery eyes. Not things I want to mess with, especially if my body is already under additional stress from traveling!
What is the alternative? I bring my own unscented or naturally-scented and toxin-free soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and facial care products. To pack travel-size amounts of your favorite natural toiletries, get yourself a set of these silicone travel bottles. They have wide mouths and are easy to fill from the larger bottles that you'll be leaving at home. In my previous post on healthy travel, I discussed bringing your own foaming hand soap and hand sanitizer on the airplane to ward of the germs you'll encounter and avoid having to use restroom hand soaps. I even gave you some of my favorite recipes if you are game to make your own. Don't forget to add those to your stash of travel-size products!
DEALING WITH THE DOWNSIDES OF TRAVEL
Take a detox bath. Baths are relaxing, restorative, and supportive of our bodies' natural detoxification capabilities, including from exposure to jet fuel. This blend is also perfect for relieving stress and preparing to sleep.
Mix up this recipe in advance and bring it with you in a glass canning jar. Soak in warm water for 20 - 30 minutes after arrival at your accommodations.
Use good quality, natural sunscreen. Gabby and I are currently using this organic, non-nano Garden Goddess sunscreen. And I like this sunscreen stick for applying to her face or reapplying without mess while we are out and about.
Sooth your sunburn with essential oils. If you’re heading to the beach or a tropical destination and are prone to getting too much sun -- even with sunscreen -- take along some natural remedies. Adding a few drops of lavender, helichrysum, and sandalwood to aloe or Argan oil works well for soothing sunburn. For even easier application, I make up this sunburn soothing spray and store it in the refrigerator.
Deal with tummy issues. Even when we're super careful about what we eat and drink while traveling (be extra careful about the water you drink and fresh produce you eat when traveling in the developing world!), we will inevitably deal with digestive system unpleasantness from time to time. Or nausea from motion sickness. Here's what to do when you're feeling off kilter.
Take a high-quality probiotic. Probiotics help keep your digestive system healthy, which is critical when traveling—especially if you're planning on indulging in local street food. No matter where you’re headed, I recommend taking high-quality probiotics daily for two weeks before and after to your trip.
Use essential oils when meals aren't sitting well or your stool is the wrong consistency. Gabby and I have a lot of experience in this area, as we first started using essential oils because of the severe digestive issues we experienced three years ago. DigestZen (a digestive blend), Ginger, Peppermint, and Wild (Sweet) Orange are all miracle workers when we are feeling discomfort after eating. [NOTE: I recommend sticking with Ginger and Wild Orange for very young children, as these oils are gentler than DigestZen and Peppermint and don't have potential safety concerns.] TO USE: Dilute 1 - 2 drops with a carrier oil and apply to your abdomen in a clockwise motion. Or pre-dilute essential oils that support digestion in a 10-ml roller bottle for easy application. I usually use fractionated coconut oil as a carrier oil for digestive essential oils that we will apply to our abdomens because it doesn't stain clothing.
Use essential oils when the movement of cars, boats, or trains is tossing your stomach. Ginger and DigestZen are also great for general queasiness. Inhale several times directly from the bottle and/or apply topically following the above instructions.
Take activated charcoal to calm an upset stomach. This may sound strange, but ingesting activated charcoal is a useful home remedy if you develop an upset stomach while traveling. Never heard of it??? Activated charcoal is porous heat-treated charcoal that is known for its absorption capabilities and negative electrical charge. These molecules create bonds with other substances and render them inactive to be safely flushed out of the body. Ancient Egyptians used activated charcoal on wounds; the ancient Hindus used it to purify water; Hippocrates and Pliny used it to treat epilepsy, anthrax, and anemia; and the Native Americans used it to treat upset stomachs. Today, hospitals use it for drug overdoses and poisonings because it is so effective at disabling toxins.
Beyond stomach upset, you can use activated charcoal for a variety of other purposes, ranging from face masks to teeth whitening to bug bite soothing to wound healing. It comes in powdered tubs/bags and capsules. I typically order this bag, which lasts quite a while, even with regular use.
THAT'S IT! READY TO HEAD OUT?
Leave me a note below and let me know which tips you're going to try on your next trip! Ready. Set. Travel!
NEED MORE HELP?
If you're interested in trying essential oils -- for your upcoming trip or otherwise -- but feel overwhelmed or confused by which oils to start with or how to use them, let a certified aromatherapist be your guide (that's me!).
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I'll get you headed in the right direction for you and your family!