Summer is a great time for exploration, relaxation and travel. Taking time away from our everyday routines can allow us to explore new environments, reduce stress and increase life satisfaction.
While travel offers endless opportunities for adventure, learning and expanding your mindset, it is important to be prepared in order to stay healthy and balanced while on the go.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, there are several aspects of travel that can throw us out of balance if we are not careful.
Travel usually involves transportation by plane, train or car, propelling our bodies through space at speeds faster than nature intended. It also frequently disrupts our daily routine and shifts our biological clocks.
These activities can introduce a light, mobile and spacey quality into your being, and aggravate vata energy, which governs movement. Throw tight spaces, extended time with family and long stretches without balanced food choices into the mix, and you may end up needing a vacation from your vacation.
To avoid dehydration, insomnia, anxiety, jet lag, brain fog and disrupted digestion, Ayurveda offers some powerful strategies for enjoying the adventure of travel while avoiding potential imbalances.
I recently took a last-minute getaway and embraced the opportunity to rest and recharge. Whether you are headed around the corner or trekking across the globe, try these Ayurvedic essentials that help me maintain optimal health even when away from home.
5 Tips for Healthy Summer Travel
1. Stay Hydrated, Nourished and Detoxed
You have heard it many times, but adequate hydration is key to allowing our bodies to stay balanced and deal with the extra toxicity and stress of travel. Dehydration from heat, long plane flights, alcohol or caffeine can aggravate vata and lead to headaches, aching muscles and digestive disruption.
To make sure you stay hydrated, start focusing on adequate hydration before you even leave home. Choose water when flying instead of dehydrating caffeinated beverages or soft drinks, which contain sugars or artificial sweeteners and can contribute to bloating.
2. Keep Regular
In the past, I struggled with a sluggish digestive tract every time I hit the road for a long stretch. The stress of tight flight connections, lack of regular hydration and healthy meals, unfamiliar facilities and uncertain routine create the perfect storm for constipation. Dehydration impairs lymphatic flow in the gut wall and sitting still for long stretches on planes and trains further congests the digestive tract.
To counter this irregularly, stay hydrated and practice some gentle yoga, focusing on twists, side bends and forward folds. These postures help to promote a downward flow of energy so that it does not accumulate in the liver, stomach and small intestine, helping to push toxins and digestive fluids through the gastrointestinal tract. Triphala, an Ayurvedic herbal remedy, helps naturally supports that tone of the bowels and promotes regular bowel movements without causing dependency.
3. Mitigate Jet Lag
Staying in sync with natural rhythms is important in Ayurveda. However, traveling across time zones can throw us out of these natural cycles. Anyone who has traveled internationally, or cross country, has likely experienced the disorienting exhaustion that can hit as we fight our body’s familiar routine. The sun’s energy is a natural way to reset the body’s clock and help stimulate sadhaka pitta in the brain to keep you alert and awake.
Try spending some time outdoors with the sun hitting your skin for at least 20 minutes once you’ve reach your destination. I also find that the adaptagenic herb ashwagandha can be a soothing way to reduce vata and rebalance bodily rhythms to help avoid jet lag.
4. Stay Grounded
Vata governs movement and change and increases with new, exciting experiences. Have you ever felt like a frantic tourist, anxious about every connection and rushing to fit in every museum and site when you are normally an easy-going, laid back type of person? The energy of movement and travel increases vata and can lead to distraction, irregular digestion, anxiety and worry if it becomes out of balance.
To stay grounded while on the go, choose warm, moist foods with healthy oils like:
Steamed veggies with ghee
Avoid drying, raw foods like:
Applying oil to the skin before, during and after travel is also a terrific way to calm vata dosha and help you relax.
5. Eat Like a Local
Mother Nature provides the perfect nourishment for the local climate and seasonal conditions. According to Ayurveda, eating locally and seasonally builds our immunity and delivers greater prana or life force energy. Being in tune with the local climate and setting also balances the doshas and strengthens our connection to the environment around us.
When visiting another region, I love to check out the local farmer’s market for seasonal treats and local delicacies. Not only is this a terrific opportunity to try out something new, it is also a chance to speak with local farmers and learn some of their favorite suggestions.
Try incorporating some of these Ayurvedic strategies during your summer vacation and see how much more balanced, rejuvenated and relaxed your travel experience can be.