Summer is here and we are looking forward to our long awaited vacations. From international travel to a road trip to see Grandma, none of us wants to have a trip ruined by stress, sickness, injury or bad sunburn. Having spent years traveling back and forth across the country and hearing patient concerns about travel, I have gathered some helpful hints and travel essentials that are simple and can help ensure some uninterrupted R and R.
How many people have you heard say, “I need a vacation from my vacation!” Travel is stressful and anxiety provoking. A few easy steps can minimize these feelings of overwhelm.
- Eat light: Don’t eat heavy rich foods before a long car ride or getting on a plane. Packing healthy snacks will deter you from grabbing unhealthy food in an airport or highway rest stop.
- Stay hydrated: Making a homemade electrolyte drink of fresh ginger, lemon, honey and sea salt in water can help keep you from being dehydrated on a long flight or car trip. It is a great recovery drink for an unexpected bout of diarrhea.
- CBD oil: Topical creams and oral preparations of CBD can be calming. It can be helpful to calm your nerves before a big flight. CBD should be used with caution and if you are taking other prescription sedatives consult your physician.
- Homeopathy: Homeopathic remedies are inexpensive, safe, and easy to pack. They take up little room in your suitcase and can help with a multitude of symptoms. See my quick reference list at the end of the article.
- Give yourself something to look forward to: That book you’ve been wanting to read, your favorite guilty pleasure magazine, a movie you’ve wanted to see. Prepare something you are excited about to occupy your mind while you are waiting for take off or in the car for a few hours.
Once you have addressed the travel anxiety that may keep you awake, sleeping in a different bed can add a whole new set of problems. You can never completely avoid that hotel room next to a freeway or a noisy neighbor. And for city dwellers, the drone of the crickets can be just as distracting as it is peaceful.
- White noise apps: There are several white noise apps that can be downloaded on your phone. Plain white noise, nature sounds, and calming music can help drown out disturbing noise. If you do use your cell phone at night, make sure you place it a few feet away from your head while you sleep to avoid EMF exposure.
- Essential oils: Lavender essential oil can be very calming. A few drops in a bathtub or a few drops on a pillow can be enough to help you get some valuable sleep.
- Tea: Tea bags don’t take up a lot of room in your suitcase and can have incredible medicinal benefits. There are several Sleep and Calm formulas available at your local health food store. Look for ingredients like Lavender, Passion Flower, Lemon Balm and Chamomile. Try a few before your trip so you know what one works the best for you.
Many patients report constipation or changes in bowel habits when traveling. These hints may help you avoid sickness and help you recover from an unhappy bowel.
- Probiotics: If you don’t already take one, START NOW! A good quality probiotic will have a bacteria count of at least 10 billion and several different strains of bacteria.
- Homeopathics: Homeopathy really shines with gastrointestinal issues. I have included some remedies in my list at the end of this article.
- Activated charcoal: Charcoal has long been used in water filtration systems. Small portable travel filters are now available for water bottles. Additionally, activated charcoal can be ingested in capsule form to help your body absorb and eliminate toxins. If you are traveling somewhere with a questionable water supply, activated charcoal is a must.
Sun and Bug Protection
- Sunblock: Unfortunately recent research is showing that the chemicals contained in SPF products may in fact be worse than that sun itself. Using a mineral based sunblock is essential to avoid exposure to these chemicals. Be mindful that mineral based sunblocks require more frequent application so don’t forget to reapply often. Look for sunblock containing zinc oxide and healthy moisturizers like coconut oil or jojoba oil. Chemicals to avoid include oxybenzone (a known endocrine disruptor), homosalate, parabens, retinyl palmitate and oxtocytene. If you see these on the label, take it out of your Amazon cart!
- Bug repellent: There are better ways to keep bugs from making our campfire miserable. Mosquitos and ticks are a primary concern in many parts of the country, especially with the rise in cases of Lyme Disease. Lemon Eucalyptus oil in 30% solution has been show to be as effective against ticks as a 10-15% solution of DEET. Other essential oils such as cedarwood, lavender and citronella are great bug repellants both topically and diffused in the air.
- Arnica cream: This is a must when traveling with children for bumps and bruises or pain. Whether it is a twisted ankle or a bump on the head, arnica will help with healing and pain and can be applied as often as needed.
- Essential oils: Lavender is one of my favorite oils. Little known uses for lavender are as an antiseptic and a styptic. Lavender essential oil can be applied directly to a cut or scrape and will help stop bleeding and help to prevent infection. It does not generally burn when applied.
- Homeopathics: See the list below.
There are thousands of homeopathic remedies but here are a few to consider when packing for your trip. Because homeopathy is not a one size fits all medicine, I recommend consulting a licensed naturopathic doctor before your trip to ensure you have the correct remedies for you and your family and understand how to dose them properly.
Aconitum Napellis: Aconite can be useful for panic and anxiety related to travel, particularly fearful thoughts or fear of dying.
Argentum Nitricum: One of the stars for travel anxiety, can be helpful for thoughts of claustrophobia on a plane, fear of crowds and heights and that individual that needs to walk and move around to feel better.
Arsenicum Album: Generalized anxiety and anxiety about health concerns can be an indication for Arsenicum. Additionally, Arsenicum is a great remedy for stomach upset and burning and vomiting that may be a result of food poisoning. Travelers Diarrhea sometimes known as “Montezuma’s revenge” is another indication for Arsenicum.
Nux Vomica: Have you or someone you know ever said that they aren’t able to go to the bathroom when traveling? Nux vomica can be helpful for those that need to move their bowels.
Ledum: A tool for your first aid kit, Ledum can be indicated for snake bites, puncture wounds and specifically tick bites. I recommend that Ledum be given after a tick bite for at least 7 days.
Apis Mellificum: Red, puffy, swollen, bee stings and allergic reactions will settle down after dosing Apis. Note: This does not replace an Epi pen for a known allergy or a trip to the emergency room if there are more severe symptoms.
Arnica Montana: The same remedy as the cream can be dosed orally for bruising, pain, and injury.
Rhus Toxicodendron: Joint pain due to rheumatic conditions and arthritis can be very helpful for sore joints after a long tour down historic streets or after being cramped on a plane for several hours.
Causticum: As soon as you realize you are going to look like a lobster by dinnertime, consider dosing with Causticum; a helpful remedy indicated for burns.
I hope these helpful hints and travel essentials for summer ensure a wonderful and relaxing vacation.
Dr. Kathryn Firisin is the medical director of Coastal Natural Medicine in Southport, CT. With over 20 years of experience in healthcare her practice focuses on gastrointestinal conditions, autoimmune and thyroid disorders, cardiovascular health, and chronic disease. Don’t forget to vote for Dr. Firisin for Best Naturopathic Physician! Call 475-999-2032 or visit: www.coastalnaturalmedicine.com to learn more or to schedule a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation.