This article is the third in a series of Healthy Ways to Travel.
Staying healthy while I travel is paramount which it would be for most people I imagine.
However, I realise that not everyone prepares for travel like I do. I certainly didn't years ago, and I usually paid for it.
Building my immune system before I leave is a big one for me. And to eat as cleanly as I can so that my digestive system is on track because I understand that travel is hard on my body. And as much as I try not to, I overindulge in food.
Add in exhaustion from being constantly on the go, a good dose of jet lag, time differences and lack of sleep, being in a confined environment with so many people when you fly, to the foods you may not be used to eating. There are so many factors that can make us unwell that being in the best of health before travelling is the smart way to go.
How often do you see people who are unwell when they travel? It can range from anything from a minor cold to flu-like symptoms, upset stomachs and confinement to the bathroom to headaches from exhaustion and/or dehydration. Not an ideal way to enjoy your holiday.
I have compiled a list of items that I use, or have been recommended to me, that are both effective in their treatment but also easy to pack. In fact, a lot of these are Essential Oils, and because they have multiple uses, I carry them in my liquids bag in my carry on luggage.
This article outlines everything that I use for minor first aid treatments when travelling, but I don't hesitate to head to the nearest pharmacy or doctor if I need to.
These are what works for me but I understand that everyone is different and what works for one may not for another.
Two Weeks Before Flying
I take Olive Leaf Extract to help build my immunity before I leave. I usually take these at the first sign of a cold. But when I am preparing to travel I start taking them two weeks before.
- Drink water
- Get plenty of sleep
- Eat well
- Take Olive Leaf Extract
If you are prone to Motion Sickness, you will know how awful it can make you feel. There are a lot of over the counter medications, but I haven’t really found any that help too much.
I am lucky that I don’t usually get motion sickness, but it has been known to hit out of the blue particularly on boats, so I do like to have something with me just in case.
Peppermint is great for an upset stomach, and so is ginger. At home, I will often have a peppermint tea with a slice of ginger if my stomach feels a little precarious, but that’s not so easy when travelling.
I use Essential Oils when travelling because of their effectiveness and ease of use. For an upset stomach, or overindulgence, I use Peppermint & Lemon Oils. Ginger is better so if I have it I will use it. I use the others more because of their versatility they are always in my toiletries kit or handbag. Simply add a drop of each in a glass of water three times a day.
Pack tea bags to take with you. Easy and convenient to travel with on the plane.
- Stay hydrated
- Use Peppermint & Lemon Essential Oil for motion sickness
- Pack Peppermint Tea Bags
During your trip
It's important to stay on to of things when we are travelling and easy to forget a routine. However, if you already have medical issues that plague you normally, they are not going to miraculously disappear when you are on holiday.
Here are my most common complaints and what I use to ease them.
This is the one I suffer from the most. My stomach is tricky at the best of times, so I always need something on hand. Apart from being very strict with what I eat (I try but rarely succeed), I really need something that works.
Peppermint is a good one for me. I can rub it on my stomach or take a drop (3 times a day) if I need to.
I take Peppermint Oil with me anyway because I use it in so many ways, but I have been told that Cinnamon Oil can be effective too - 1 drop daily for upset stomach or diarrhoea.
Depending on where you are travelling insect bites can be an annoying issue. It could be as simple as sitting outside at night and being bitten by mosquitoes. I always travel with Lavender Oil, so that is my Essential Oil of choice.
There are others, but Lavender Oil is what I use. It is great to blend with Aloe and apply to your skin. It has analgesic and antiseptic to help heal wounds.
This can be a big one for me. I get headaches when I am really tired, stressed or have eaten too much sugar. (And let’s not even mention wine). I will relent and take some Panadol if I have to, which I carry too, but I prefer to try this first.
Lavender, Peppermint & Frankincense (all together is best, or on their own) and applied to the back of your neck, shoulders, temples and forehead (dilute).
I don’t always have Frankincense with me, so Lavender and Peppermint Oils are usually my go to treatment.
Although you don’t mean to it is easy to get sunburnt when you are out and about exploring and have forgotten to apply a sunscreen.
And again it's good old Lavender Oil that comes to the rescue. Blend it with Aloe if you have it and apply to skin. If I don’t have any Aloe, I just use the First Aid Wash (recipe at the end of the article).
Coughs & Colds, Congestion
Yes, unfortunately, most of us have been there. You’re on your dream holiday having the time of your life and BAM! You are struck down with a cold.
Here are some things I do to hit it on the head before it takes hold.
Olive Leaf Extract is great for building your immune system and fighting colds. I take this regularly while I am away anyway, but if I hadn't been, I definitely would at the first sign of a cold, taking the highest dose possible.
Eucalyptus Oil is great for colds. It is best known to help relieve congestion, and you can put a drop on your pillow, a scarf, or tissue. Or you can rub a drop onto your chest. It is a great addition to your kit.
If you also have a sore throat, you can gargle water with a drop of Lemon Oil in it. Try doing this three times a day. Lemon Oil is best known for its antiseptic and disinfecting properties.
Feet can take a beating when you are travelling. Many times I have returned to my room with aching feet.
You can soak your feet and then rub with some Peppermint Oil. Its cooling effect is a blessing to tired, weary feet.
Don’t forget to pack good bandaids. My preferred brand is Elastoplast. I swear by these, and they have protected my feet on many occasions. You can also bath blisters with the First Aid wash.
Aches & Pains
Travel can be hard on your body. If you are like me, I always walk a lot more than usual, sometimes up hills or stairs. My poor muscles usually get a workout and make sure I know about it.
Peppermint Oil is great blended with Aloe and applied to the area of pain. And Eucalyptus Oil is anti-inflammatory and a mild analgesic that will relieve the pain). There are several varieties of Eucalyptus, and any of them would be a great addition to your kit.
First Aid Wash
If you are unlucky enough to develop blisters, this First Aid Wash to be just what you need, but it is also good for any scratches or cuts you may get.
Simply put several drops of Lavender essential oil in a small basin of tepid water. If the body part that needs cleaning is easy to submerge, simply swish around in the water for a few minutes. If the body part cannot be submerged, then use a washcloth and gently wipe or sponge water over the area.
The natural antiseptic properties of Lavender may help fight any infection, and its analgesic property will help with any pain or discomfort.
- Use Olive Leaf Extract to boost your immune system
- Use Eucalyptus Oil for congestion or aches
- Gargle Lemon Oil for a sore throat
- Peppermint Oil is soothing to tired feet, aches and pains, upset stomachs and headaches
- Pack plenty of good quality band aids
- Use Lavender Oil in a versatile First Aid Wash and for insect bites, sunburn and headaches
Make sure you bring along a carrier oil. Essential oils should be 100% pure and therefore very potent and strong. I use jojoba oil because I already have that packed as my moisturiser, but you can also use fractionated coconut oil, use unscented almond, jojoba and olive oil.
Protecting your essential oils from sunlight and excessive heat will prolong their effectiveness and extend their shelf life.
Drink as much as you can. Headaches often develop because you are dehydrated, especially during and after flying. Water is your friend.
A note about the Essential Oils I have mentioned in this article. There is a huge variety on the market, but it is important only to buy a good quality 100% Essential Oil. Don’t be tempted to buy cheaper brands, they are usually inferior quality and will not produce the same benefits.
Find a brand you trust. I have used a few brands including Thursday Plantation and dōTERRA.
In the future, all my Essential Oils will be dōTERRA as I love them and they are of the highest quality. Because I want to take some of the oils internally, I need to be able to trust the product.
dōTERRA Essential Oils are not available in store, so I purchase mine from my friend Elisha from Empowered Essentials.
For those of you who are interested in information about the Essential Oils in this article, you can get it here.
What do you take?
I would love to know what you take with you for First Aid when travelling. Any effective addition to my first aid kit is valuable. Please pop your comments below. Thanks
Cindy Reid is the founder of Travel Charm. Cindy has travelled extensively both personally and with her groups. She has now combined her love of art, food and travel and hosts Painting Trips to Europe and continues to explore and roam in Australia.