Travel can wear down your immune system for a number of reasons. We often become exhausted, dehydrated, lack sleep, jet-lagged, and so on. Follow this Naturopathic TRAVEL acronym to prepare you for this travel season.
T – Take food with you.
R – Rehydrate
A – Awareness
V – Vitamins and supplements*
E – Expectations
L – Locate foods you can eat
T- Take food with you:
Always bring foods and snacks that you can eat. For some this might be foods that are gluten free, dairy free, or FODMAP-friendly foods. These specific food categories may not be served on the plane or the airports. On shorter flight, you can bring small cooler bags of snack and foods. As long as there are no liquids, security won’t take it from you. Be sure to bring enough food to last for your journey. Long term travel will require different preparation.
Here are some great options for foods to bring: (Organic if possible)
- Nuts, seeds, and dried fruits – you can create your own “trail mix” without all the added sugars.
- Almond or peanut butter single packets – great healthy protein and fat source.
- Grain-free granola – easy to eat by the handfuls.
- Protein bars (without added sugars).
- Fresh Fruits – if you’re not traveling internationally.
- Protein / Nutrition shakes – meal replacers. Just in case there is a stretch of time when you are not able to purchase meals. Easy to add water, in a shaker. (always bring with a water bottle which can double as a shaker).
- Treats – dark chocolate if you love chocolate like me. I like to get the dairy free chocolates.
During flights, with the lack of humidity in the air, you are more likely to become dehydrated. In addition, caffeine and alcohol consumed on the airplane can make this worse. It’s so easy to ask for that coffee or tea, and if you do, make sure to ask for water, or bring water to drink. Try to avoid coffee and alcohol if possible. Remember to drink water any time you feel thirsty, or even before feeling thirsty. Those free (or costly airplane) soda’s aren’t helping exactly either. Drink clean, filtered water if you can. If not, drink bottled water. With dehydration comes tiredness, headaches, dizziness, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and other digestive problems. To help with rehydration, you can always bring electrolyte packets, without added sugar. These will help our body retain water more efficiently. Bring a Tea-mug and tea-bags. Herbal tea’s are a great way to help you regulate your sleep and digestion.
Pay attention to the signs your body is giving you. If you are feeling tired, take a rest. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits, because you might crash later. The more tired you are, the more likely it is that you will feel fogy brained, that you might miss a flight, or that you might end up in the wrong terminal. So rest when you can. Each person reacts differently to stress. For some it’s headaches for others it’s digestive complaints such as constipation or diarrhea.
Pay attention to things that might make you ill: like unwashed fruits and vegetables, unfiltered water. Avoid un-bottled water whenever traveling abroad.
Pay attention to pick-picketers…yes…it still happens. So bring one of those tacky passport holder’s that go under the shirt, to keep your most valuable items. Losing your stuff is not the end of the world, but losing your passport and money can be a major cause of stress. Stress leads to illness. So let’s avoid that.
Bring your supplements with you. In addition to your daily vitamins, here are some great ones to consider:
- Probiotics – life saver! When it comes to eating food that your body is not used to, and that is not cooked in the safety of your own house, you have to prepare your body to the foreign pathogens/bacteria. To do that, prepare 1 month before your travels with a probiotic. Not only will it protect your gut from likely travelers diarrhea, it will also be a great anti-inflammatory and help you regulate your endocrine (hormone) system and nervous system.
- Digestive enzymes – Take one each time you eat. This will make sure that you are maximizing your digestion of what you are eating. One of the common troubles while traveling is the lack of nutrient dense foods at airports and easily accessible restaurants. So to make sure you are digesting well and absorbing your nutrients, support that with Digestive enzymes.
- Vitamin C: for a couple of days before your departure date, take 500-1000 mg of Vit C daily. This will help your immune system to stay strong. Don’t be shy, take some with you. By supporting your immune system, you are making sure your immune system has what it needs to make sure you won’t get sick after staying in a cold flight with sneezing/coughing passengers.
- Vitamin D, or Vitamin Sun: Your body needs Vitamin D to regulate it’s immune system. Just as important as Vitamin C. If you are living in a cold climate or live indoors most of the time, you may need to take 1000-2000IU’s of Vitamin D regularly; and even more so, when traveling. If you are traveling somewhere warm, soak in 10 min of mid-day sunlight per day; this will help your body to convert in-active Vitamin D to active Vitamin D.
- Zinc Lozenges – you might need these at the first sign of a cold or a scratchy throat.
- Echinacea, Atragalus, Elderberry tincture – along with Zinc lozenges, and Vit C, these are going to be your first defense against the cold or flu. Together, they make a great anti-viral combination. Carry small bottles with you, or combine them. There are certainly also capsules. Check with your airport regulations what size liquid container you are allowed into the airplane on carry-on.
Homeopathic SOS kit:
- Arnica montana: great for any trauma’s, bruises, sores, aches.
- Arsenicum album: great for food poisoning, travelers diarrhea, vomiting with chills.
- Aconite: also great for sudden chills, fevers, vomiting, with profuse sweat and urination. Person is intensely thirsty, and everything except water tastes bitter.
- Belladonna: high sudden, intense, fevers. Dilated pupils, redness, and heat without sweating.
- Ferrum Phosphoricum: great for fevers with feeling of chills, rosy cheeks. For early stages of febrile conditions. If person is sluggish – Use Gelsemium.
- Nux Vomica: digestive upset due to overindulging in foods or alcohol. Headaches, constipation.
- Aconitum napellius: any physical or emotional ailments of fright or getting chilled. Sudden, violently acute, painful effects. Any nervous system issue.
- Cantharis: sunburns, UTI's with scalding and bloody drops of urine.
- Cocculus indicus: motion sickness, jet lag, time zone changes, insomnia.
- Ledum: insect bites or blunt trauma, relieved by cold application.
- Apis: insect bites, hives, allergic reactions; with swelling, redness and heat; relieved by cold.
E- Expectations or Intention:
Setting expectations and communicating those clearly with your host can clear the way for future frustration. This is particularly true about food restrictions or allergies. Communicate openly about your dietary or lifestyle restrictions.
Setting intensions can be a great way of having clarity in what you want to experience and who you want to be during a trip. Say you want to experience being present and enjoying your time. This is not possible when the mindset is not there. If your mindset is worried or stressed about a particular life circumstance, it will remain stuck, unable to experience this freely. When you are not able to “be” what you want to experience, ask yourself: who do you want to be, not what, but who. Setting an intension to be at peace with the present moment, will allow you to handle possible stressors in a far smoother way. Less stress = less chance to become sick.
L-Locate your food:
Consider checking out multiple restaurants, comb through their menu to see if these foods are fully cooked, meet your dietary needs, and are generally well tolerated by other foreigners. Ask around in the local community, get to know what the locals make and consider having an experience. Food is a great way to get to know local culture. Do be careful and check if food’s are fully cooked and that you are drinking bottled water.
And best of all: enjoy and leave the world a better place!