Travel Well with Ayurveda
“I am not born for one corner; the whole world is my native land.”
I travel quite a bit throughout the year and after ages of struggling to survive even 1 hour flights I think I have mastered the art of arriving revived. With the help of looking at my travel prep from the Ayurvedic perspective, my routine is a far cry from how I used to roll up on my trips, which ended with nausea and looking like dried prune(nothing against prunes though, they are amazing and actually very helpful for digestion!).
A little Ayurvedic background on air travel is that it elevates the Vata(air + space) dosha in our body, sounds like it should be an obvious thing to know since we are flying thousands of feet and miles through the air but I never put two and two together until Ayurveda came into my life. Imbalanced Vata causes anxiety, fear, nervousness, confusion, dry skin, constipation, gas, bloating, cracking and painful joints, cramps just to name a few symptoms. Almost everything about air travel actually increases Vata, post trip anxiety, rushing to the airport, excitement to arrive at your destination and one of the biggest instigator aside from catapulting through the air at enormous speeds is the food options in flight. Most snacks are often dried, salty, processed and increase Vata hence why your eyes feel like sandpaper, your tummy is likely bloated and gassy and your skin starts to resemble an old leather bag.
If you’re like me and you live to travel, keep reading for my essential Ayurvedic in-flight tips and take alongs to ensure a smooth journey !
1- Ground before Sky
Vata dosha needs routine, warmth and grounding to stay balanced. Preparation, calmness and nourishment is the best way to support yourself mentally, physically and emotionally. My first Ayurveda essential is an Abhyanga or self massage with warm sesame or sesame/sunflower blend night before travel and morning of. I often leave the oil on my body if I am flying overnight to ensure I have extra support in-flight. Abhyanga not only helps to emotionally calm and ground Vata but it also keeps the skin supple to prevent it from drying out. I also carry some oil with me in a small, spill proof container for my hands, face and nose, Banyan Botanicals Vata massage and Daily massage oil are my favourite. Also ensure you lubricate your nasal passages, this not only helps with sinus inflammation but helps prevent nasty airplane germs from getting into your body! Pre-flight you can use a q-tip to carefully and gently apply oil to the inside of your nostrils and gently sniff 2-3 times to get the oil up towards the brain. If you ever sit next to me, you’ll see me spritzing, spraying and oiling all flight and trust me, if you do it, you’ll thank me later when you arrive with clear, fresh with pain-free sinuses!
2- Prepare your snacks, meals and digestion
Vata dosha will mess up your digestion like nobody's business, whether it’s a one hour or 24 hour journey, an upset tummy is sure to cause distress which also leads mental distress aka more Vata. The key is to warm your digestive system, which is why I start drinking extra warm water 1-2 days before and never fly without my hot tea thermos, organic ginger pills and herbal teas. In flight try to avoid alcohol, caffeinated beverages and cold drinks, instead keep things warm/hot so you spend less time in the bathroom upon arrival! I carry my CCF tea blend(an Ayurvedic herbal tea with cumin, coriander and fennel seeds), ginger tea, Tulsi rose to keep my immunity up and irritation down. I also love the sacred Teacoup Zenzai Immune tea blended by my beautiful friend and Ayurvedic teaologist, Fehreen Sophia.
One hour before flying is the right time to have two ginger pills and eat a warm nourishing meal such as kitchiri with lots of ghee and warming spices like turmeric, ginger, black pepper and hing.
In flight I usually take along a container with instant organic oats, organic dates, ground cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a very very healthy dose of ghee. It’s an easy meal that only requires hot water to be cooked and is easy to digest which will help nourish Vata dosha. Snacks are usually dried fruits reconstituted with warm water, nuts and if possible kitchiri in a thermos is divine.
3- Protect yo’self
The airplane is a container of germs, we are breathing recycled air with hundreds of strangers for hours...not to mention the ick factor when you find old food wrappers in between your seats. Never trust the cleanliness of the airplane. I fly with my Saje Immune spray and roll-on which I use throughout the flight on my neck and under my nose and Tulsi drops which are an Ayurvedic anti-viral, immunity booster and help strengthen the respiratory system.
Bringing a cozy scarf for your neck is also a wise idea, especially one that can double as a blanket for the changing in flight temperatures. Vata is very drying and aggravated by cold, this can lead to a sore throat/dry cough during or post flight, for this I carry natural lozenges or licorice tea, my favourites are Herbion cherry flavoured or organic licorice drops.
I also carry my trusty Lemurian Quartz which has been all over the world with me. Lemurian Quartz crystal is used to clear and activate the Chakras. It is a healing crystal which helps to remove energy blockages that can occur from being in new spaces and around different energies.
4- Body Basics
I always find my eyes to get very dry if I dare to watch more than one movie. Usually my eyes forget how to blink so be sure to pack lubricating eye drops/saline drops and apply as needed. An eye mask helps block out light from screens and fellow passengers, the gentle compression around the head and eyes is also soothing for Vata. These days I fall asleep before I even take off but if by chance by Vata creeps up and I am restless I make sure I get up and find space near the back for some gentle yoga or stretches to keep my blood flowing and prevent clots, post-flight muscle pain and tightness. Another incredible trick I learned to prevent body aches, pains and especially for migraine sufferers is Natural Vitality Magnesium Supplement, it can be taken in your water bottle and also comes in small travel packs. It helps maintain a balance of calcium and magnesium to help with blood flow, stress relief, muscle spasms/cramps, fatigue, anxiety, nervousness,all things that can creep up during travel!
I am also a big fan of these Bear Wallow herbal tinctures I picked up in Mount Shasta a couple months ago, a few drops of the stress-less helps calm my nervous system, keep my digestive system from overloading with anxiety and I absolutely love herbalist Cara’s methodology of using all natural, sustainably harvested herbs and meditation to create these little magic helpers.
I never, I repeat, never board without my mint lip balm or homemade rose aloe spray,(these help keep my face bright and shiny for arrival) which I pack in a handy pouch along with my toothbrush, toothpaste and tongue scraper to get rid of the stale ama(toxic waste) which forms on the tongue. I throw in some essential oil perfume or an all natural solid perfume for good measure in case I am coming up less roses more stale airplane.
Last but not least I love a good playlist, mine is a delicious mix of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Daniel Caesar , SZA, Abida Parveen, Bob Marley, some Tupac and old school bhangra with a splash of Bollywood. My most profound writing comes while travelling so I keep my Iphone and journal close by and always take a good book for times in transit, when my soul craves depth or places where there’s no wi-fi.
I hope my tips and flight faves help make your next trip healthy and happy! I would love to hear from you if you have any holistic remedies or favourites for travel, until then
Be well xo