Travel can be unbalancing. Planes, trains, taxis, and changing time zones can leave some of us feeling ungrounded and knock off our circadian rhythms. It’s especially frustrating when we are either trying to relax during a vacation, enjoy a family visit, or get things done during a work trip. No matter why we are traveling, we want to feel good physically and mentally and sometimes it’s tough.
Yoga therapy helps people incorporate habits into their daily life that support their health and well being. Maintaining these habits and incorporating new travel habits is critical for traveling well. There are a number of things we can do to support ourselves before and during our travels.
Start packing a few days before leaving.
If you always pack ahead ignore this, if you don’t, here’s a thought. Pack ahead. It will help you with everything below. You won’t feel as disoriented before you leave and you’ll have most everything you need once you start traveling.
Pay attention to and don’t change your routine before leaving.
Take a look at your sleep schedule, morning rituals, evening rituals, exercise, water consumption. It is easy to let routines get out of sync before even leaving the house. Don’t let it happen.
Pack things that will help you stay grounded, able to sleep, and able to exercise.
Take essential oils like frankincense (grounding — great to take on the plane), clary sage (to sleep), eucalyptus (clear nasal passages), peppermint (rub on stomach), and a small bottle of carrier oil (to mix with the essential oils – especially the peppermint). You could also bring peppermint tea bags for digestion; a neti pot – even though it’s bulky; and a scarf (doubles as a blanket if needed). What are the things that help you feel grounded? What helps you sleep? And, bring whatever shoes and clothes you need to get some exercise (walking, gym, yoga).
Drink more water than usual.
Start by leaving the house with a large stainless steel water bottle filled with water. You could even throw in a slice of lemon or a cardamom pod. A rough model (every body is different) is to fill the bottle once for each leg of the trip and fill again once you reach your destination. The great thing about stainless steel is that you can fill with hot water and add lemon or a herbal tea bag. Remember those peppermint tea bags above. Many hotels have a hot water kettle in the room. Use those tea bags, make tea, and hydrate.
Keep your morning routine while traveling.
Don’t mess with the morning. Whatever you do when you wake up keep doing it while you travel. I always drink a glass of water first thing. Then I do some tongue scraping (this is it is great for digestion), wash my eyes and face, use my neti pot, do some stomach exercises, and finish with some breathing practices. When I travel I add rubbing a mix of peppermint oil (3 shakes) with carrier oil (5 drops) in a circle around my abdomen clockwise (I’m the clock). I also drink some peppermint tea before eating anything else (most hotels, friends, rentals have a hot water pot). I admit, all of this doesn’t always fit in, but I try to keep as much of it as I can. Whatever your morning routine is. Keep it. It will set the day up better.
Plan to walk or run.
Walking is usually easy when you are traveling but not always. Sometimes when I’m at the beach or when it’s cold outside, I can get a bit lazy. When I used to travel for work, I’d forget that I even needed to exercise at all. So, whatever tools you need to get moving, bring them (walking shoes or running shoes). If you don’t know what to do to get moving, find a destination that you can walk to in 30 minutes (and the walk home).
Do some yoga (you can use this as exercise, but I recommend walking or running too).
My favorite series to do when traveling is the Joint Freeing Series. It is my favorite because it relieves joint stiffness and increases circulation throughout the body. At home I use this sequence when I have a headache, when I’m feeling low energy, and when I feel out of sorts in my body (the way I feel when I travel if I am not careful). You don’t need a mat. You can do it in any comfy clothes you have with you. I also subscribe to the Thousand Petals Yoga online library. There are so any practices from beginners to advanced. Paul and Sommer are so lovely – inspiring and funny – a perfect combo.
Set yourself up for sleep.
Make sure you drink enough water during the day and have a sleep routine. For example, start with a shower or even better a bath. Put down the shades/curtains if you have them. If your digestion is still wonky, mix carrier oil (5 drops) with peppermint oil (3 or so shakes) in your hand and then rub on your abdomen clockwise (as if you were the clock). And then, if the smell soothes you and you like it, put some carrier oil in your hand (5 drops) mixed with clary sage (3 or so shakes) and rub on your neck and chest area. If you are feeling edgy or just not right, try the joint free series before bed and maybe even an iRest practice. Don’t pick up your phone and start checking email or social media before bed. You will be tempted and don’t beat yourself up if you do – but you’ve got a better chance of getting to sleep if you do an iRest practice or even read a book. If you wake up in the middle of the night, go back to iRest or even a 61 point meditation (have these cued up on your phone). Second choice is a book. I’m sure there are other things that you know help you sleep at home. Use these when you travel. Don’t forget your tools.
If you stray from the routines just reset when you remember.
Keeping to all of this is hard when you travel. I’ll be so excited about the day ahead that I sometimes forget my morning routines. Or, I’m so tired at night that I just jump into bed without doing any of what is above. That’s ok. These tools are here for when you need them. If you are feeling great, roll with it. Not all of us are sensitive in the same way to traveling. These tools are here to help you when you need them.