Just a few more weeks of summer are left and you may be planning for your last summer trips. Travel can be exciting, offering us new experiences or simply offering us a time to relax and rejuvenate. But with even the most exciting of trips, I'm often asked for tips on how to stay balanced during travel.
Depending on the length and the distance of the trip, it's common for travelers to experience disrupted sleep and jet lag, irregular bowel movements, poor digestion, and a sense of overall disorientation. It's not surprising, given all the potential changes a person has to experience from a trip: changing time zones, different food, increased dryness and poor circulation during the plane ride, disrupted daily routines. From an Ayurvedic perspective, imbalances can arise during transitions, but a few simple tips can help lessen the impact of the changes and allow you to just enjoy the pleasure of travel.
- On an airplane, your circulation deteriorates and you have increased swelling in your body. To help alleviate this, bring a box of ginger tea on the plane. When you get on the plane, ask the flight attendants for lots of hot water and sip on ginger tea throughout the trip. Besides swelling and sluggish circulation, our body's gas can expand by up to 25% on an airplane! And yes, you know what that means! So ginger tea will calm that gas down too. (In Ayurvedic language, all of these changes reflect vata increasing in the body.)
- Airplane passengers can also experience increased dryness on the airplane. Increased dryness in the body can aggravate the feelings of being ungrounded when you start your travels, so making sure you have significant moisure inside and outside your body will be helpful in making a smooth transition. Drinking large amounts of ginger tea during the plane ride will be helpful not only for your digestion and circulation, it will also help keep you hydrated. Drink more plain water if you feel like you're not able to drink a lot of ginger tea during the flight. Before leaving for the airport, try lathering up your body with almond oil and place a few drops of oil into your nostrils and ears so your bringing in that moisture before the dryness hits. Minimizing systemic dryness can help you feel more grounded, improve your ability to rest and relax on the plane.
Regular Bowel Movements
- You probably haven't compared bowel movements with your other fellow passengers. But if you did, you'd probably learn that one of the first things to happen to the body with long distance travel is constipation and other signs of irregular bowel movements. To prevent the elimination challenges, try 1-2 triphala pills (or 1/4 tsp of powder) in the evening at bedtime before leaving for your trip and take the dosage again in the morning before your trip. Continue this dosage during your trip to maintain regular bowel movements. Triphala also has anti-parasitic benefits which can be helpful when you're experiencing unfamiliar food and a water supply.
- Your digestion can get turned upside down during travel. This is especially the case if you are traveling to an area with food that is not familiar to you. Bring a powder mixture of equal amounts of cumin, coriander, and fennel. Before each meal, take 1/2 teaspoon of this powder mixture before you eat. One relative makes an annual trip internationally that had always challenged his digestion. For years, this trip always resulted in chronic digestive distress. After he started bringing the cumin, coriander, and fennel mixture and the triphala, he's never had a problem again.
If you're crossing many time zones, jet lag is often the biggest issue plaguing travelers, but there are ways to alleviate this. When you're on the international flight, start taking a Bach flower remedy blend called "Rescue Sleep". Bring the gel pills on the plane and take two every three hours. This will help calm your nervous system and help you rest on the plane so you can have a smoother transition when you arrive.
Upon arriving, if it's day time, resist the urge to sleep right away and give yourself a 20 minute "sun bath" to help acclimate you to the new environment.
Grounding and Balance
- Wherever you're staying, try to make the place feel more settled. This may mean unpacking your bags and moving your clothes into the dresser instead of living out of the suitcase. Also, it's a great idea to make a quite serene area where you can have a daily meditation or just simply a breath awareness practice where you can help center yourself before each day's adventures.
And most importantly, remember that all these little tips are designed to not have you focus on problems, but instead to help you fully enjoy your travel and its wonderful opportunities to rejuvenate and expand your consciousness to new opportunities and new ways of living and seeing.