Travel is spiritual nutrition. It makes you more tolerant, opens your eyes and tastebuds to new experiences, your mind to new concepts, and as they say is the only thing money can buy that makes you richer. So why, with this newfound wealth, do you always end up battling dry skin, depletion and constipation?
Whether you’re covering continents via the wonders of modern aviation or discovering Colorado’s peaks and valleys via back roads, a common side effect of wanderlust is disturbed circadian rhythms. The circadian rhythm is your physiology’s natural 24-hour cycle, and it’s influenced by external cues like sunlight. When we travel, we may change time zones, skip meals or miss sleep, throwing off our inner clock and our trip of a lifetime can be tarnished by bloating, fatigue, and insomnia.
Ayurvedic medicine attributes these symptoms to excess Vata, meaning the high-velocity (and often high altitude) movement of travel increases the air and space elements in your physiology. The effect is like wind blowing across the desert — it dries you out and rattles your mind, disturbing digestion, sleep and circulation.
The good news is you don’t have to cancel your trip. Ayurvedic techniques for wellness are largely centered around creating balance by introducing opposing forces, such as oil for dryness and warmth for cold. And the best news: they’re easy and portable. Here are our top Ayurvedic tips for travel health so you can see the world with a smile:
The number one complaint when it comes to travel is constipation, and Ayurveda has a foolproof ancient remedy. Triphala is a safe, simple combination of three Indian fruits that has been used for centuries to improve digestion and promote elimination. Starting the night before your departure, take 2-3 tablets at bedtime with warm water and you’ll stay regular until you’re back in your own bed again.
There’s always a cooler full of icy cold gulps on the road, but warm water is kinder to your digestion which is already struggling with time change and convenience food. Bring a thermos with warm water on road trips, or ask the flight attendant to fill it up for you, and sip frequently to stay hydrated.
We all know fiber helps elimination, but fresh fruit is bulky, bruisable and has a short shelf life. Tasty dried fruits such as dates, figs and raisins squeeze into your pack, last longer, and provide a healthy source of energy for long days hiking or sightseeing.
Your skin is the first line of defense against air conditioning, climate changes, sunscreen and chlorine so it’s no surprise you can end up feeling dry and itchy on day one. Traditionally, Ayurveda recommends a daily massage with sesame oil to nourish your skin. Sesame oil feels warm on the skin and adds a perfect natural layer of insulation for plane rides or cold nights at camp. Massage oil into your skin before you shower on the day you travel, and bring some in a three ounce bottle instead of moisturizer.
No student of Ayurveda ever leaves home without a tongue scraper! On the first morning of your trip, you may notice a white covering on your tongue (usually accompanied by bad breath). This is called Ama in Ayurveda, meaning toxicity, and is a byproduct of your metabolism trying to cope with undigested food. Scraping it off each morning removes toxic particles from your tongue and stimulates your taste buds so you can make the most of new culinary delights!