I absolutely love to travel, and one of my favorite hobbies is researching and planning my next trips! But traveling by its very nature - moving at hundreds of miles an hour on planes and trains, spending hours in a car and in the cold, dry air of airports, and the stress that comes along with being out of your comfort zone - can increase Vata too much. It's nearly impossible to not get a little out of balance while traveling, but with some planning and Ayurvedic principles, you can still be vibrant and healthy no matter where or how far you're going!
Excess Vata has several major symptoms that you may even recognize from previous trips: chronic fatigue, constipation, gas, bloating, insomnia, anxiety, acne, weight gain, foggy brain and dry eyes and skin.
To prevent and soothe those symptoms on your next adventure, here are 11 of my most effective Ayurvedic tips that will support your health anywhere in the world!
Love Yourself With Oil
Give yourself an oil massage (abhyanga) every day for two weeks leading up to your trip if you don't already practice abhyanga on a daily basis. Make sure to practice abhyanga especially on the morning of your departure or the night before if the morning will be too hectic.
Continue to practice abhyanga while you are on your trip as well! It’s easy to pack a small bottle of oil to rub on the soles of your feet at bedtime to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. If you time and space to do a whole body massage, that's even better. Adding a few drops of lavender to the oil will add a calming, anti-bacterial element. Especially if you are traveling by plane, put a couple drops of the Ayurvedic oil in your ears and then insert earplugs to block out the drone of the airplane. Try Brahmi Oil and Maha Narayana Oil! They are both powerful choices that balance Vata.
Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeinated coffee and tea. Of course it is always best to minimize or completely eliminate soda and alcohol, which are both incredibly dehydrating. Absolutely avoid iced drinks as these weaken your digestion, make you feel cold and further exacerbate Vata Dosha. First thing in the morning, drink a big glass of warm water to hydrate your digestive system and keep your bowels regular.
Ginger, Ginger & more Ginger!
Drinking a cup of ginger tea, especially in the morning after waking up, will help you stay grounded and calm. It also stimulates and strengthens your digestion. When I travel, I pack a thermal mug and bring along ginger and chai tea bags. Most coffee shops will fill my mug with hot water or you can ask for a cup of hot water to put your tea bag in. I fill my thermal mug with the hot water and tea before I board a plane. I typically avoid drinking water on a plane except from a fresh bottle because water in the hold may not be completely free of contamination.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, it's best to avoid refined and processed sugar, but especially take care to find other alternatives when you're traveling. Consuming sugar can weaken your immune system for up to 11 hours! Combine that with breathing recirculated air for hours at a time on a plane, for example - getting sick is just that much more likely.
Bring Your Own Snacks & Eat Healthy Food
Pack a variety of healthy snacks while you're traveling so you aren’t tempted to reach for sugary, salty, processed food. Also avoid dry, raw, cold and iced foods. Focus on cooked, grounding food like Kitchari and soups and hot herbal tea. Avoid airplane food! It has been pre-cooked, frozen and then microwaved - consuming food like that lowers your energy and is tough to digest. I typically cook Kitchari the morning of my trip and carry it along in a thermos. Other simple things to pack are oatmeal packets, ginger, nuts and fresh fruit.
Do your research before your trip to locate local restaurants that feature fresh, home-cooked food.
Stay Warm & Comfortable
I always dress in layers when I travel and adjust as necessary. A wide scarf is especially useful. I wrap it around my neck, drape it over my legs or cover my head, especially on a plane. Staying warm and comfortable balances both Vata and Pitta Dosha.
Keep A Routine
When you reach your destination, get outside in the sunlight for half an hour as soon as you can to balance your circadian rhythms and reduce jet lag. Also maintaining your normal routine as much as possible, even while away from home, will help keep your energy up and your body in balance.
Ashwagandha relieves stress and helps you stay calm while you travel. Take 1 teaspoon of Ashwagandha Arishtam in the morning and then another in the evening.
Triphala is a must in every travel kit. It's a gentle detoxifier, strengthens your digestion, boosts your immune system and prevents and relieves constipation. Take ½ of a teaspoon of Triphala with water at bedtime each night. Do not take Triphala if you are pregnant or menstruating.
Dryness often occurs during travel and lubricating your sinuses with Anu Oil can help to prevent stress and balance hormones. Nasa also keeps bacteria and viruses away from your nasal tissues. Just apply one or two drops to each nostril and sniff lightly in the morning and the evening while traveling.
Most importantly, enjoy your trip! Practice being in the present moment to fully experience your trip. Also don’t forget to breathe deeply and calmly. Practice Alternate Nostril Breathing if you know how.
With love and light,
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Kottakkal Ayurveda products and this information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. If you have serious, acute, or chronic health problems, please consult a trained health professional. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor, call (800) 215-9934 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide you with one of our affiliated Ayurvedic professionals. Check with your doctor before taking herbs when pregnant or nursing.