If you know me at all, you would know by now that I am a travel junkie! I’ve been running retreats in the Himalayas of Nepal for many years, I have been all over the world and have done several loooong trips in India – the infamous home of “Delhi-Belly”. My biggest fear when travelling is not missing a plane, being robbed or getting lost in a weird place…it is… (how can I put this delicately…) getting an “upset tummy” on a long-distance bus trip. (I’ve heard enough harrowing tales from fellow travellers in India to scar me for LIFE!)
And so also being a naturopath means I don’t muck around when it comes to preparing for the worst when travelling – my bag rattles with remedies for any unfortunate occasion.
So if you have an overseas trip planned, take a look at some of these indispensible items that you too might want to pack!
1) Tea Tree Oil
This natural oil is an antiseptic, antiviral and antifungal agent all in one little bottle! If I get a cut or a scrape I apply a drop or two stat. I also use it to disinfect my hands and for any suspected fungal infections. People with sensitive skin may want to mix it into a base of sorbolene cream or natural moisturizer first rather than applying it neat. It is also great to mix a couple of drops in warm water as a gargle for sore throats or mouth infections.
2) Rescue Remedy
Scared of flying? Missing home? Hotel has cancelled your booking? Then never fear, Rescue Remedy is here! This is a Bach Flower mixture designed for stress, anxiety, trauma and shock. You can get it in drops, sprays, creams or pastilles. I like to travel with pastilles, they are easy to keep in your handbag – and yummy. Any time you are feeling a bit out of sorts or anxious, a dose of Rescue Remedy will help to soothe your nerves.
3) Homeopathic Melatonin
This is a jet-lag buster! Melatonin is actually a hormone our body produces naturally to help us regulate our sleep cycles. The homoeopathic preparation of melatonin can help you to adjust to different time zones and get to sleep at a decent hour instead of being wide awake at 1am and falling asleep during lunch. (It is also great for shift workers).
4) Saccharomyces Boulardii
Yes, I did have to google that to get the correct spelling! It’s a tongue twister, but this natural yeast is my miracle for gastroenteritis and traveller’s diarrhoea. It grows on the skin of lychee and mangosteen fruits, and people in South East Asia have used it since ancient times for cholera. It”s regaining popularity now in the natural health world and is available in capsule forms. It basically works by preventing pathogenic bacteria from adhering to your digestive tract and promoting the growth of your defensive “good” bacteria. It doesn’t have to be kept in the fridge like other yeast/probiotic formulations. Start taking it 5 days before your trip and keep taking it throughout. The dose can be increased if you get an acute attack. I buy a form by the company Bioceuticals called SB Floractiv – much easier to say!
5) Chinese Wormwood
Also known as Qing Hao and Artemesia Annua, this Chinese herb is my other staple for travel in the tropics or where food poisoning and parasite infections are a risk. It supports gut health, kills bacteria and parasites and reduces fever. It is also a well-documented anti-malarial and derivatives of this herb are now being used in new malarial drugs to help treat resistant outbreaks in Africa. I take a tablet a day while I am away to prevent any gastric infections.
6) Tiger Balm
This is my cure for muscle aches and pains and headaches. An asian ointment made from aromatic oils, it is great rubbed on stiff muscles from long flights or bus journeys. You can also rub a tiny amount into your hands, cup your hands over your nose and inhale deeply several times for headaches and stuffy sinuses. It is also beneficial to rub on the chest and upper back during colds. Tip: if you are joining me on one of my retreats in Nepal, wait til you get to Kathmandu to buy it, it is much cheaper there!
This herb boosts white blood cells, your little infection-fighters! Travel can be exhausting, and combined with changing climates, planes, different food and possibly interrupted sleep, your immune system can become challenged and colds and flus can take hold. Taking echinacea before, during and after your trip will keep you fighting strong.
8) Papaya Ointment
Made from the papaya or paw paw fruit, this is one multi-tasking ointment you do not want to be without. Use it for chafing, sunburn, rashes, splinters, insect bites, chapped lips, callouses, scars, minor burns, abscesses and dry skin.
9) Ginger Tablets
Last but not least, especially if you get sea-sick, is ginger. Ginger tablets are a natural way to treat nausea and it works very well for sea-sickness and other forms of motion sickness. It can also help indigestion, so do take it with if you are dining at an all-you-can-eat buffet!
10) One not-so-natural remedy…
Oh, and in the interest of being totally transparent I do travel with one not-so-natural travel remedy: loperimide. I even carry this on my person -in my money belt – if I am going on a long-distance bus trip…it’s a gut blocker and will stop an “upset tummy” in it’s tracks. Though I’ve only ever had to take it once, it gives me peace of mind to know that my worst travel nightmare ain’t EVER gonna become a reality!
Of course, the above treatments are to be used as a guide only, always seek travel health advice from a medical travel clinic prior to any overseas trip.
If you have any natural health remedies you can’t travel without, share in the comments below!