Traveling is such an exciting time. Packing the suitcases, buying new clothes, and dreaming about your destination enliven the spirit as you anticipate unplugging from daily life. However, travel also brings unpredictable aspects in your daily routine and new stimuli for your body and mind.
While you may welcome the change of pace, your body may feel the changes unfavorably. Integrating Ayurvedic practices in your travels can help make the vacation smooth and keep you balanced so you can fully enjoy yourself.
While all doshas can go out of balance during travel, the Vata dosha tends to get out of balance first for most people. Vata is composed of space and air, and travel requires moving through space and air, especially when flying.
Vata types tend to experience an even greater set of symptoms, such as dry eyes and skin, constipation, dehydration, insomnia or sleep disturbances, and fatigue. Pitta types, who normally experience great digestion, may find themselves with heartburn or irritable bowels due to excessive eating or eating spicy foods while on vacation. Kapha types who adore routine, may find themselves resistant to yet another excursion, preferring to stay in the hotel room with a good book.
Travel Tips for Vata
When Vata is unbalanced, you are more prone to worry and anxiety and may suffer from insomnia. Here are some tips to find balance when you’re on the road:
- Stay hydrated. A day before your travel day and on the day of travel, drink lots of water and stay away from caffeinated beverages. Make sure to drink only water if traveling by plane, and stay away from all alcoholic beverages as these further dehydrate you. Bring a little care package on board with a couple of Vata tea bags, some hand lotion, and a lavender-scented eye pillow for longer flights. Ditch dry foods such as nuts and dried fruit, and instead bring a ripe pear, banana, or some cherries to snack on.
- If you experience nervousness or fear of flying, meditate during your flight. Load up your smartphone or music device with soothing spa music and guided meditations. Meditating while crossing time zones can also help with jetlag as your biorhythms sync with the circadian rhythm of the new location. Rescue Remedy by Bach Flower Remedies is an herbal based, non-toxic, and over-the-counter formula you can take before and during your flight to help with anxiety.
- Stay warm during travel. Being cold can bring you out of balance. Bring socks, layered clothing, and even a small blanket to keep you warm, and sip warm liquids throughout the trip.
- Prevent constipation, which is a common issue while traveling, with the following tips:
a. Stay hydrated—it will help tremendously (see number 1 above).
b. Use a common Ayurvedic herbal remedy called triphala for mild constipation. Triphala has a mild laxative effect as well as a rejuvenating effect on the cells. To help with constipation, take two triphala tablets in the evening before bed with a warm glass of water.
c. Alternatively, sprinkle a tablespoon of ground organic flaxseed on your yogurt, cereal, or salad to help get your bowels moving.
d. Finally, practice the dirgha breath, or the complete three-part yoga breath. Learning how to breathe deep into the lower abdomen will help you relax the muscles and release tension so you can use the bathroom easily.
- At night, while on vacation, try to create a consistent routine so you can get the sleep you need. If you’re sharing a hotel room or accommodations with others, announce your bedtime ahead of time. Make sure those who wish to stay up later make arrangements to hang out in the lobby or another part of the hotel and come in quietly when they are ready for bed.
Travel Tips for Pitta
While Pitta types typically like the thrill of adventure, sometimes the drive to try everything can bring you out of balance. Here are some tips:
- Eat slowly so your stomach can signal to your mind that it’s full, which takes anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. Although Pittas typically enjoy strong digestive powers, when you overeat or try many different types of food at once, you may experience heartburn or irritable bowels. Drinking a couple of tablespoons of food-grade aloe vera can help with heartburn. Stick to cooling foods like cucumber, melons, cilantro, and mint.
- Stay out of the sun at the hottest part of the day, or wear a hat and a pair of sunglasses, as the sun will aggravate your Pitta.
- Enjoy non-competitive activities. You don’t always have to be the first hiker up that hill, the first swimmer to cross the pool, or the perfect tour guide. Add a little spontaneity to your vacation and laugh when things don’t seem to go quite right.
- If you are traveling with Vata and Kapha types, honor the fact that they may not move at the same pace as you and probably need more sleep. If you find the need to embrace every moment of your hard-earned vacation, get up early, leave the hotel room, and go do a coffee and pastry run for everyone else, or take a morning sunrise walk on the beach. You’ll appreciate everyone’s vacation dynamic much more if you try not to control and enjoy less structure for a week or two.
Travel Tips for Kapha
Your dream vacation may be an all-inclusive resort with nothing to do and nowhere to go with meals at your disposal when you want and a nice beach lounge and the latest romance novel.
Yet this might not be your reality. If you have to compromise with others on vacation, you may find yourself on a more high-energy vacation than you wished for. But you love to please and enjoy the company so it doesn’t bother you too much. But take note, Kapha types can go out of balance if you don’t honor your needs, too. Here are some tips:
- Stick to a meal plan. Overeating may be tempting with so many different things to enjoy and, after all, the kids deserve an ice cream after being so good. However, focus on eatingonly during meal times and avoid snacks. If you need to try a dessert, get one for the whole table and take only a bite or two. Take a short, 15-minute walk after every meal.
- Honor your need for quiet time. Either once a day or a few times during your vacation, announce to your travel companions that you will be taking “X” amount of time to do what you want and if that’s sitting in the hotel room and unwinding, reading, or taking a bath, that’s OK. You should feel refreshed coming home from vacation and if you’re constantly accommodating the needs of others, you will feel resentment. Plus, since you’re normally so easygoing, others will respect you for setting the boundaries you need to have your space and time during your vacation.
With a little planning, mindfulness, and Ayurvedic tips, you can have a fabulous—and balanced—vacation.