As I write this from 35,000 feet I realize that travel season is nearly upon us! The summer season is a high time for travel and holiday making and an equally high time for anxiety, stress, constipation, insomnia and digestive upsets (our ever-faithful travel companions) — or what Ayurveda might call a great big vata sandwich!
Vata is the energy of movement. It's a combination of the air and space elements and it's qualities are cold, light, dry, moving and rough. Travel often involves a significant amount of movement and change, particularly if your plans involve air travel, which can cause an imbalance of vata and all the familiar travel issues I mentioned above.
The good news is that Ayurveda has answers… simple answers. Cue the mantra!
Warming, Moisturizing, Grounding, Routine
This is my travel mantra. It's simple and can be applied to nearly everything you do or eat . Keeping this mantra in mind will help to create balance as you travel, allowing you to actually enjoy the experience and the process of getting from place to place and being away from home.
Oh look your flight's about to board! Here's that you'll want to do in flight:
- Hydrate – This is not news to just about anyone who's ever been on a plane. Planes dry you out! So stay away from the alcohol (even if you've got a fear of flying) and the black tea and coffee. Opt for herbal tea, lots of water AND oil. Yep, that's right. Oil yourself up before you even get on the plane. And if you're flight is long enough think about taking some oil or lotion with you to top up mid flight.
- Stay warm – Inside and out! If you tend to get cold on planes (even if you don't) make sure to bring a warm pair of socks to wear in flight. Wear comfortable clothes that are suitably warm. Layer to ensure you don't get too hot (that's for you pittas!). And for a little warming on the inside I like to bring candied ginger with me onboard. It's great for digestion, will warm your insides and kick nausea to the curb!
- Don't over eat – What is it about flying that somehow makes us hungry? Could it be the ever-so-tantalizing cuisine? Uh, not likely. The most likely answer is that flying throws our internal rhythm off. And for most of us when our body clocks are disturbed we tend to eat (especially if the food is “free”). So rather than filling up on over processed, over salted, mostly lifeless airline food, why not plan ahead and bring some of your own healthy foods and snacks to enjoy on board.
Focus on vata-reducing foods that are warming and moist (soup anyone?), and have sweet, sour and salty tastes. One of my personal faves? Chewy dates filled with nut butter. They're sweet, slightly salty, and provide a bit of unctuousness (think smooth, moisturizing and oily without the oil) that will help to keep your vata in check. They're also quite filling, an all natural comfort food.
And once you've landed, I highly suggest you do the following:
- Keep hydrating – Once out of our familiar environments it can sometimes feel like all bets are off. With all the change and excitement we often forget to do something as simple as drinking water! And this is when we really start to experience the effects of high vata as our bodies and digestive systems start to dry out and slow down. So be sure to keep hydrating (and moisturizing, especially if you're travelling to dry or cold climates). Drink a sufficient amount of room temperature water in between and after meals, and don't stop with the lotion and oil!
- Create a routine – For most folks, travel is one of the most extreme experiences of change. A single trip can mean a change in environment, weather and even timezones. Routine is the antidote to the stress caused by change. Even a simple self-care focused regimen can help to reduce the stress of travel while allowing you to enjoy the benefits of your new environment.
No matter where you are or where you're going mornings and evenings are a great time to focus on grounding, calming and taking care of yourself. Try an early cup of warm water with lemon (you can get this anywhere!), do a few stretches or a few minutes of deep breathing. Take a nice bath or shower in the evening and moisturize your entire body before going to bed. Make this time for yourself non-negotiable (even with yourself), and enjoy the rewards of a relaxed and calm you!
Got a travel routine? I wanna hear about it! What are your favorite ways to pass the time on a plane? I'm travelling for the next month and could use YOUR tips! So please share in the comments below!