Ok, is there really any form of balanced travel? Well, read this article I wrote about vacationing to catch a glimpse of what that could look like.
For the rest of us humans, travel usually has some untoward effects.
Why? Well, travel is akin to truckloads of vata coming into your life.
That which is not familiar, or simply different from your usual, is a change; and change is vata embodied.
Furthermore, flying is a lot of vata because of the altitude (and yes, higher altitude destinations are also more vata) and the rapid movement.
Any movement is a vata input, so the more you move around, the more vata you bring in.
This is why the majority of symptoms of travel are signs of vata imbalance: gas, constipation, dryness, insomnia, and lower immunity to name a few.
Most of us crave travel when we are craving the wonderful aspects of vata–a fresh perspective, inspiration. Sometimes our vata imbalance is driving the craving–like when you feel overwhelmed and want to escape it all.
Either way, balancing travel is all about balancing vata.
So here are a few general tips. Of course, each travel situation is unique and the best balancing happens when you consider the whole picture. This list will get you started in the right direction.
- Ginger tea. Ginger is a super antimicrobial and maintains healthy digestive capacity. This is important as vata lowers digestive capacity and immunity. Also, this root is warming and that further helps to balance the cold of vata. I throw a few slices of fresh ginger root in a ziplock and ask for hot water on the plane. Most grocery stores carry ginger teabags and that is convenient for travel. As a carminative, ginger helps to reduce gas too.
- Hot water. No ice on the plane!! When traveling try to drink hot or at least warmish liquids. Hot water is easily available everywhere you would eat and you can at least use it to add to your drink to change the temperature. This helps to maintain your digestive capacity and prevent constipation and gas.
- “Spiceballs.” There are these little magic balls of churna (digestive aid spices) that are travel friendly and are super for supporting digestion and immunity in much of the same way ginger does (just stronger). I use these in addition to the ginger tea. Many times when traveling we are eating in restaurants with heavier, more processed food in larger portions. These little spiceballs help to digest all of that, so you don’t have toxic schmutz building up in your tract causing digestive upset and inflammation. We carry these in our online store.
- Neti pot. This is the second thing I pack. Travel dries out your sinuses and makes your upper respiratory system prone to congestion and infection. This combined with lower immunity is why many catch a cold after travel. I import fantastic stainless steel neti pots, which we carry in our online store. But these days, I’ve even seen an array of portable saline sprays for travel. The neti is a whole level (or ten) above the dinky portable sprays; however, something is better than nothing.
- am/pm routine. As much as you can maintain some semblance of your morning and evening ritual, you can support your internal circadian rhythms. These are the rhythms that coordinate the miraculous dance of every system in your body. Oftentimes, travel means shifts in our usual rhythms, and this throws off our internal clocks. Maintaining am/pm rituals helps to keep those clocks anchored.
- Nutmeg. Nutmeg is a phenomenal herb for insomnia and jet lag, as well as a digestive aid and antimicrobial. Personally, I put a blend of cardamom and nutmeg (organic and medicinal grade) in my travel bag. I’ll have this in a latte (steamed milk and hot water) or just as tea before bed on the first days of adjusting to a new time zone.
- Triphala. This is the first thing I pack! For more on the benefits of triphala (which we carry as well), read this article.
- Slow it down! When we plan travel, it’s common to want to maximize the experience. We overbook our travel itenerary, and forget to have down time as a priority. Aim for being present and really sinking into places, cultures, experiences–depth over quantity.
- Bookend your travel with Grounding Days. Plan for a day of ease and grounding just to recover from the actual movement of travel when you arrive. Similarly, plan for a day of recovery and grounding when you return. It’s so nice to not have to jump back into a full schedule when coming back home.
- Bumblebee breath (Brahmari Pranayam). There are several Youtube videos demonstrating this breathwork and it’s benefits. This is perhaps the funniest to me (because of the music and the closing line :)).