In preparation for your next adventure, besides visiting your general practitioner or a travel clinic for travel health tips and tools, it’s also worth putting together a list of natural treatments to complete your healthcare checklist. Many of the health risks encountered during travel can be treated with simple and natural home remedies. Here’s a list of natural treatments to supplement your travel health kit that you can usually find at your local health food store, make yourself, or find easily on the road.
Included in the first line of defense for staying healthy as you travel is keeping your hands clean throughout the day, especially before eating and following extra exposure to grime. A travel-sized natural cleanser can be found at most health food stores. If you’re unable to get your hands on sanitizer, essential oils such as cinnamon and tea tree oils blended with aloe vera gel are solid options for a homemade remedy.
The bustle of travel, exposure to unfamiliar pathogens, and crowded places all put travelers at risk of contracting an illness. Feeling slightly run-down or downright ill will put a damper on all your travel plans. Protect yourself with natural preventive remedies. This category has loads of options, including zinc, vitamin C, and elderberry. Pack your usual effective go-to from home in your travel health kit. Don’t forget simple kitchen medicine, such as garlic, when your immune system feels threatened.
You can start taking these in advance of your travels, especially if you will be taking antibiotics (leave several hours between these two as they work against each other) or if you have sensitive digestion. Probiotics help build up the natural healthy bacteria in your gut to counterbalance any potential influx of unwelcome bacteria.
Not all probiotic products are created equal. Seek out a reputable brand, ideally with some professional guidance for your personal needs. Many probiotics require refrigeration, so seek out a shelf-stable pill option appropriate for travel. These can be found at a good-quality natural food or supplement store, not necessarily at the local small-town pharmacy that you might encounter when on the road. Yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods also offer lower-dose probiotic support.
Digestive upset, ranging from mild discomfort to constipation or debilitating diarrhea, is one of the primary threats for travelers. A bout of food poisoning can keep you in your hotel close to the loo, or worse, put you in the hospital for the entire tenure of your planned vacation. It’s worth being overly cautious about digestive health as a traveler, especially if you tend to have a sensitive digestive system or if you like to eat adventurously when you travel.
Be prepared to keep things moving in the right direction, including bowel stimulators, such as Smooth Move tea and fiber, as well as bowel slowers, such as activated charcoal. Digestive enzymes can be helpful if you tend to have trouble digesting specific types of foods. Nausea soothers, such as ginger candies, are good to have on hand if you tend to get motion sickness.
A few key essential oils can be used for a wide variety of applications, including just serving as a pleasant scent to freshen up stale air (or as an attempt to cover up unpleasant smells around you). Lavender calms and relaxes the nervous system, useful if you tend to get travel-day jitters. Eucalyptus oil helps soothe achy muscles and clears the sinuses. Tea tree oil benefits the skin in many ways, including reducing acne, nourishing a dry scalp, and treating skin infections. Many essential oils are too potent to apply directly to the skin and require a carrier oil, such as the next item on the list, coconut oil.
A great all-purpose tool to have on hand, useful for hydrating dry skin and hair, preventing infection, even cleaning your teeth! Coconut oil can be used in the ancient Ayurvedic medicine practice of oil pulling, the process of swishing oil in the mouth for several minutes to support oral health and to absorb the nutritional benefits of the oil (don’t swallow the oil, though, spit it out when done). This multipurpose oil is a key ingredient for lots of homemade bath products, including shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and lip balm — a great option if you are unsure about where to find familiar products while on the road. Coconut oil also serves as a base for potent essential oils, many of which are too strong to put on skin directly.
Skin soothers and protectors
It’s good to be prepared for a wide variety of skin ailments while traveling, ranging from dry skin to sunburn to fungal infections. Coconut oil, as already mentioned, is a great overall skin soother and protector. If you have the propensity to sunburn, be sure to carry aloe vera. Calendula and neem offer skin treatment for scars, itching, and healing of minor wounds. And don’t forget sunscreen or block when heading outside. Remember, the intensity of the sun can be quite different from what you are used to at home — especially if traveling near the equator, visiting mountains, or spending hours near water or snow.
Muscle pain relief
Aches and pains are to be expected on any great travel adventure, even if just sore feet following a long day of sightseeing. Equip yourself with muscle soothers such as arnica, Tiger Balm, and soothing essential oils. Don’t underestimate the benefits of a simple, effective, and cheap ice pack or hot water bottle for minor aches and pains.
To support and enhance a good night’s sleep (or satisfying nap) on your travels, pack a few natural sleep aids. Melatonin pills or drops can help you conk out for a stretch of several hours of sleep — useful for resetting your internal clock when shifting time zones. Melatonin is a hormone, though, so it’s wise to limit use to only when necessary, not as a long-term nightly pill. Valerian, chamomile, hops, and passion flower all help to promote satisfying rest when needed. These can be taken as a tea, tincture, or pills in the evening or before bed to help relax the nervous system and wind down. Lavender essential oil has a calming pleasant scent and can be added to skin creams or even an eye mask or pillow to encourage restful sleep.