Today’s herbal travel toolkit and DIY recipe for a spray that works both as a natural hand sanitizer on-the-go and aromatherapy is written by my friend & clinical herbalist, Lauren Haynes of Wooden Spoon Apothecary. She shares a comprehensive list of natural remedies on the go from preventative measures to anxiety busters to antidotes for common woes like colds, upset stomach, and headaches.
When I was fourteen, I hopped on a plane heading for South Florida. Spring break? Nope! Visiting Nana. Visiting my sharp-edged, Kool-smoking Nana meant undivided attention, hours of Judge Joe Brown, strolling endless flea markets, and bagels. It also meant, nearly without fail, coming down with a nasty cold.
I’d lounge on her black leather couch, peeking through the blinds at the sun and swimming pool, sniveling as I rubbed my nose raw. Dayquil laughed at me. Kleenex said, “enough.” It was my lot to be sick and let Nana care for me. And she did, in her own way. She made me soup and let me change the channel. It was the most tender she’d ever been towards me, and I still remember that feeling long after she’s been gone.
The vacation sickies happen to the best of us. We plan and plan, only to spend a week watching your loved ones swim in the ocean while you mop up the one pouring from your nose. It’s the worst.
Why do we get sick when we travel?
There’s a panoply of reasons. First, exposure to exponentially more germs. Airports? Ant farms for germs. Major cities? Crawling with people and all their germs. Another common reason is simply the stress of travel. Our bodies work tirelessly enough already, and between the planning and the prepping, they’re on the verge of breaking down. Our bodies might not know that we’re headed to a remote beach in Fiji in three days; they want us to chill now. The unfortunate truth is that our body’s way of forcing us to be still, to set aside our “to-do’s,” is by giving us a cold, a stay, anything to make us stop going and give in to what our body is telling us. Even if in three days we’ll be in Fiji.
Natural remedies on the go!
Since becoming an herbalist, I have so many more tools in my tool belt when it comes to combating illness on the road. Whether I’m traveling for business or pleasure, I always have my bag packed with my immune system in mind. Below are my favorite natural remedies to keep me in my prime while I’m traveling. Also, don’t miss the DIY recipe for an essential oil-based hand sanitizer that can double as a calming aromatherapy spray!
Elderberry lozenges – Ubiquitous health food store staples, these little candies provide unparalleled broad-spectrum antimicrobial protection. I like to take one daily, and then ramp up to the recommended daily intake if I feel a scratchy throat coming on. They’re a super easy and tasty way to keep your immune system buffed and polished.
Green juice tablets – Unsweetened green juices can be such a great way to nourish your body on the go. If you’re lounging on the beach or taking twelve meetings in a day, you might not always be able to go out and find the nearest juice bar. Pop one of these fizzing tablets into your water bottle and get your daily boost of vitamins and antioxidants no matter where you are.
Ginger chews – We’re all familiar with the wacky meals and fast food fests that can come from being on the road. These ginger chews are the best thing to have in your bag when you feel that slight queasiness. They are more accessible than making tea and even more delicious.
Papaya enzymes – They look, feel, and act like an OTC antacid, but they’re made from fruit enzymes and work immediately.
Magnesium – Magnesium is your pal for so many travel struggles, from upset stomachs to headaches to sleepless nights. My favorite version is the single-serving Calm powder packets. You can also take these each day as a calming supplement, too, just by stirring them into some water and drinking the Kool-aid. No really, they taste like Kool-aid.
Cbd – Traveling is stressful, no two ways around it. There are so many variables: kids, cars, feeding yourself, does your Airbnb have a clock that ticks all night? Taking a CBD supplement can help smooth everything out. It’s like your soothing personal assistant. We recommend the brand Rosebud.
Hand sanitizer – Oh, the joys of a public restroom. What fun! Even after a good hot scrub with questionable soap, you might want to just spritz on some hand sanitizer here and there. I also love traveling with a mini bottle of Dr. Bronner’s soap, just to avoid the endocrine-disrupting chemicals in most industrial bathroom soaps.
Rosewater – Rosewater softens the emotions, brings you back into your body, hydrates the skin, and helps relieve sunburn. Exactly what you need after that missed flight, or at the end of a long day by the pool. It might sound luxurious, but you’ll be so glad you have it.
Anxiety Ally – Wooden Spoon Herbs’ bestselling formula, they are the perfect calming drops to help you keep your cool on the go. Just take 10 drops in a little water, and be prepared to take on the day. Also great to help you sleep in a noisy hotel.
Migraine Melter – Headaches are a natural byproduct of stress, dehydration, and hunger, so tuck this little bottle in your bag just in case you run into one of those. I mean, you are traveling, after all.
Hangover Tonic – This is a must-have for those late-night exploring your inner wild child. Take a dropper full in your morning OJ or seltzer to support your liver through its darkest hour.
Immunity Now – This tincture is another easy way to keep your immune system in tip-top shape. Knock back a few drops in your water and relax, knowing all the bad guys are in big trouble.
Sweet Dreams – Honking cars, college towns, and crying babies are just a few of the things that might get in your path to Dreamland. Keep this tincture on your bedside and smile, knowing you have them beat.
Dandelion Bitters – Whether you need digestive support, or need to whip up a quick cocktail, don’t be caught without these herbal bitters.
Lavender Hand Sanitizer & Aromatherapy Spray
- 1 cup 235 ml pure aloe vera gel
- 1 to 2 teaspoons 15 to 28 ml witch hazel
- 12 drops lavender essential oil
- Measure the ingredients and stir together in a mixing bowl.
- To thicken the solution, add more aloe vera gel one teaspoon at a time.
- Then package! Travel-size toiletry bottles are ideal for toting this hand sanitizer. Buy empty BPA free plastic bottles from the drug store for the most convenience.
- This blend should last up to three weeks unrefrigerated.
Lauren Haynes is a clinical herbalist, writer, and founder of Wooden Spoon Herbs. Follow her on Instagram at @woodenspoonherbs, or shop the organic apothecary at www.woodenspoonherbs.com.