Traveling endows us with the clear, light, mobile qualities of Vata, and can provide insights and open our eyes to a perspective we may have been missing. Vacations inspire us with new beauties of the world, cultures, and nature, and remove us from the redundance of our day-to-day energy bubble and life routine.
Whether you are embarking on a romantic getaway, setting out to read, rest, and relax at the beach, or if you have the whole gang of rowdy kids for a family road trip, these Ayurvedic travel hacks can help make your vacation a more balanced experience.
1. Bring a thermos and some tea bags in your daypack.
Warm water and herbal teas are a simple go-to for maintaining a strong metabolism and buffering digestive irregularities that accompany travel. You can ask for hot water at gas stations or at an airport coffee shop, usually free of charge. Served ice water at a restaurant? Kindly request water without ice or warm water with lemon and your server will assist you.
2. Pre-mix your CCF tea and pack it.
This ever-reliable, classic standby is tri-doshic and will assist in whatever digestive, blood, and lymphatic issues that ail you during your trip. CCF tea is made by simply mixing equal parts of cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds, using ½ tbsp. of this mixture per 1 cup of hot water. Save CCF for when you arrive at your destination, as loose teas in-transit can be messy.
3. Apply Nasya Oil drops before a flight.
Protect your sinuses by lubricating your nostrils before entering the dry air of a flight, while simultaneously clearing your mind. No flight? No problem. Nasya also removes residual, subtle doshas from the mind, which usually manifest in the form of anxiety, anger, or grief.
4. Use lavender oil in your mask.
Dripping one drop of Lavender oil in a mask before airport travel provides refreshing, Vata-soothing aromatherapy, and contains antiseptic properties.
5. Prevent abhyanga oil spillage.
Cut a 1-inch square of plastic bag and place it on the bottle mouth before screwing on the lid. At your destination, borrow a mug to do a bain-marie to heat your little travel bottle of oil. Reminder to avoid abhyanga before a beach visit or a long day in the sun, and after sunburn. Protect your skin and rasa dhatu by avoiding drying hotel soaps.
6. Never leave home without Triphala to avoid travel constipation.
Always keep official ingredient contents and labels on herbs, in original packaging if possible. If going through customs, travel with official recommendation forms, or take photos to have electronic copies ready. Carry a travel spice kit to bring 5-10 practical powdered spices or create a Churna (spice mix) out of your favorite combo of spices.
Good travel spice options might be turmeric, cumin, ginger, mint, coriander, and cinnamon. Premixed churnas include Trikatu, for sluggish, slow digestion, and Hingvastak, for irregular digestion with gas or bloating. Churnas can be sprinkled on your meals to maintain a brightly burning agni, your digestive fire,.
7. Opt for accommodation with a kitchen.
With a kitchen, you can cook at least one simple meal per day, rather than constantly eating restaurant food. You can come prepared with a small bag of basmati rice and mung dal, then your kitchari is ready to be prepped. You can visit a local farmers market, often in city centers, to pick up a few local veggies for your kitchari, while partaking in other exciting events like live music and the art-scene that usually gravitate near summer markets to attract tourists.
Vacation bases with a kitchen allow you to enjoy an elaborate regional restaurant meal for lunchtime, when agni is at its peak, then return to your base to prep a simple dinner porridge, which is easier on both the agni and the wallet.
8. Sleep deprived? Take a nap.
Day sleeping for more than 15 minutes is generally not recommended for adults in Ayurveda, but there is a simple formula to calculate nap allowance for occasions like red-eye flights or time zone changes. Subtract the hours slept the previous night by your regular quantity of hours slept, then divide that number in half. For example: (8-4) ÷ 2 = 2 hours of nap time. Avoid eating before taking a nap.
9. Eat regional, seasonal foods at your destination.
Regional, seasonal foods allow you to receive the proper medicine for balancing whichever doshas are aggravated by the environment of that place. After all, it is said that “all our medicine grows within a mile of our home.”
10. Regroup with morning meditation, away from your group.
Get up before everyone else to have enough time to center yourself or do some asanas. Ground your Vata by indulging in 30 minutes to an hour of quiet time and meditation, before delving into the extroverted, energetic activities of the day. “When we are too busy to meditate, meditation is certainly more necessary.”
11. Take advantage of transit time to breathe and meditate.
Practice silent mantra while sitting in a plane, train, bus, or car. Gemstone beaded bracelets can be used for mantra repetition and are easy to slip on and off the wrist. Pranayama such as deep belly breathing and coherence breathing are discreet and can be practiced while sitting on the plane with eyes closed, and the person next to you never has to know. Long line at the amusement park? Breathe your way to the front.
12. Cover up.
Spending excessive time in the blistering summer sun during Pitta season and Pitta time of day (10am-2pm) is one sure-fire way to get Pitta fired up. The skin is the seat of the subdosha bhrājaka pitta, so sometimes it makes sense to wear long sleeves during hot weather if it prevents excess Pitta from entering your system via the skin. Try white, organic cotton to stay cool, fresh, and ventilated. The eyes are the seat of the subdosha ālochaka pitta, so Pitta-predominant people can be photosensitive during bright, summer months. Sunglasses and broad brimmed hats can be one way to keep Pitta cool while looking cool, if your vacation involves spending a lot of time outdoors.
13. Journal and reflect.
How has your identity transformed or been shaped by this trip? What insights have you had that you may not want to forget? Jot a few things in a journal so that future you can be re-enlightened by present you.
14. Be flexible.
My teacher once said, “Life is dry if you don’t sometimes eat pie.” Vacations and traveling often have a celebratory air about them and it’s okay to splurge a little, keeping in mind that “it is what you do most of the time” that matters. If a day out on the town means sharing an ice cream cone with a loved one, Ayurveda teaches us how to counter that by using the “law of opposites.”
When you get home, drink a cup of fresh Ginger Cinna-Mint tea to balance blood sugar, remove acute Kapha from cold sweets, and regulate Vata after crunchy, dry travel snacks, without getting Pitta flared-up. Feeling sluggish after your trip? Try a 5-day simple foods mono-diet upon your return, to reset digestion.
15. Stay organized.
Vata gets high and things tend to get lost or misplaced because, while traveling, things have no place. Decide where items live and belong and keep them there. Avoid wreaking havoc in the car or hotel room by carelessly tossing around shirts, shoes, and cereal bar wrappers. Unwind and regroup every night by putting things in their rightful place. Compartmentalized luggage with itemized pockets helps with this so that things can stay sorted.
Enjoy engaging in one or all of these Ayurvedic travel hacks. Wishing safe, memorable, and eye-opening vacations to all readers. May you arrive to your destination with all your luggage and may you leave with your heart full of wonder.