Travel as we know today did not exist 5,000 years ago when Ayurveda was born. Back then, travel most likely meant walking from one village to another. Today travel implies some mode of transportation used: car, plane, train, boat.
Only Vata Can Move
Regardless of walking or using a mode of transportation, both are require the body to be in movement. Vata dosha is the composed of ether and air and it is the only dosha that is mobile. Vata is described as mobile, cold, dry, rough, and light.
What is Vata Like?
Fall and winter are seasons known for increasing vata in the body for everyone, whether your dosha is vata or not. It is a time when vata imbalances are likely to surface. Fall and winter are times of the year when it gets windy, dry, cold, and light. What is going on externally in our environment is going on internally. Ayurveda is all about living in harmony with nature. So understanding what the external environment is and appropriately having a suitable diet and lifestyle is crucial to well being.
All Type of Travel is Vata
By default, any traveling we do is essentially movement whether it is by car, train, plane or boat is vata. Traveling by plane is by far the most vata aggravating because you are literally suspended in air (which is an element of vata) but also moving while on the plane. It is important to make sure you take preventive measures to keep vata in check. Otherwise it can easily lead to imbalances such as constipation, dry skin, fatigue. If you are going on vacation, then why start off on a bad note?
Tips for Balancing Vata During Travel
Here are some tips to incorporate into your travel. Diet-wise stick to cooked warm foods and avoid all cold, raw, and iced options.
Warm water and lemon: Alcohol as you already probably already know is dehydrating, but it is the ultimate enemy when flying. It’s hard to resist drinking on the flight, especially when it is free and you want to really relax. It is not worth it, because it will only further dry out your internal body.
Ginger Tea: Ginger is great for all digestive ailments, nausea, colds. Keep some ginger tea bags with you for the flight and if they have honey and lemon add some in too. Wait till the tea has cooled down to a drinkable temperature before adding in the honey.
Nutmeg: If you are someone that jet lags very easily, then keep a small container of ground nutmeg with you. Take approximately 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg in a glass of warm milk or hot water before bedtime. It helps with inducing deep sleep.
Nasya oil: I think everyone can relate to their noses getting dried out when on a flight. All of a sudden there is just so much gunk sitting there. Nasya oil is a herbal medicated oil that comes with a dropper, a few drops in each nostril before getting on the flight will keep them moist but also allow easier breathing through the nose. Nasya oil is usually applied after showering as it stimulates the brain and makes you more alert. It is also used 15 minutes after doing the net pot to prevent the sinuses from drying out.
Sesame Oil or Almond Oil or Any Herbal Balm: This one may be surprising but by applying oil on the bottoms of the feet will make you feel more grounded, counteracting the spacey feeling we can sometimes feel while on a flight. There are great Ayurvedic oil blends such as Banyan Botanicals vata massage oil. But, even plain sesame or almond will do just fine. Personally, I love using Solavedi’s vata balm. It is easy to carry and not messy. If you have another oil based balm with lavender or soothing essential oils, even that will do. Rub it on the bottoms of feet and temples on side of head.
Lavender oil roll on: This one is great for yourself and kids. Many brands make blends to induce sleep or relax. I put this on my son before we went on a 12 hour flight, and throughout the flight every 3 hours I would reapply on his temples and wrist.
To Take Orally
Triphala: this is an Ayurvedic formula of three fruits that will keep you regular and treat/prevent constipation. It is unlike other things you can take that act as a laxative. Triphala actually cleans the colon and scrapes off toxins sitting around. It can be taken regularly before bed even when not traveling. For a lot of people travel causes constipation and anywhere from 1-4 capsules before bed is a good amount. Start off with 1 or 2 capsules and if you feel it is not the right strength then add or subtract. Any type of travel or disruptment to one’s daily schedule can through vata off.
Tincture: If you want to take something that helps in addition to the other stuff, then look into Banyan Botanical’s formula “I Travel Well”, it is a tincture of ashwagandhga and other herbs to help the body cope with changes. Ashwagandha can even be taken alone in pill form if that is easier and it is an adaptogen so it will work in tune with your body to take the edge off but also provide vitality and energy.