Essential Oils and Travel: A Complete Guide
© Brittany Neale
Ahhh, the joys of travel. Whether it’s by plane, train, boat, automobile or any other mode, the need to get out there and go is strong. But as truly exhilarating as exploring new places can be, venturing outside of our normal routines can also take a toll on our well-being. And without the comforts of home, simple ailments like headaches, stomachaches, motion sickness, stress, jet lag, anxiety, sore muscles and even bug bites can feel like a major imposition.
Fortunately, with a little preparation and some smart packing, you can soothe those travel-related ills and get on with your trip. Here are some of the most common ways essential oils are being used to help people feel their best when traveling.
Stress and Anxiety
No matter where your trip takes you, there’s a good chance that unexpected circumstances – things like lost luggage, heavy traffic, delayed flights and long security lines – will add worry to your itinerary. So, make sure you have the right essential oils for stress and anxiety There is a wide range of relaxation-promoting essential oils available.
You’ll have plenty of options to choose from, including popular floral scents like lavender and bergamot, and lesser-known oils like basil. In addition, blended essential oils like Worry Free Synergy or Relax Synergy are a convenient way to get the benefits of multiple oils at once.
Jet lag, changes in diet and activity level, altered sleeping patterns – all of these travel-related factors can put added stress on your immune system. Combine that with exposure to new foods, viruses, bugs and bacteria, and you could have a perfect storm for travel-related illness.
Having the right essential oils on hand may be able to help you avoid getting sick on your next trip.
Orange sweet essential oil, for example, is a popular, uplifting scent that’s often used to freshen a room, relieve nervous tension and support the immune system. There are also essential oil blends designed to boost the immune system. For easy use on the road, just dilute with your favorite carrier oil in a roller and apply topically to your chest and neck. And if you want to avoid the germs altogether, you can always make your own DIY hand sanitizer to bring with you.
Whether it’s a result of dehydration from flying or just from the stress of trying to get from one place to another, headaches are a common complaint when traveling. In addition to carrying a water bottle and drinking regularly, it’s a good idea to have headache remedies on hand.
Peppermint essential oil is a popular natural remedy for headache pain. It been used in aromatherapy for thousands of years. And modern science supports its use. According to a 2015 Review of Essential Oils, when peppermint essential oil is applied around the head and temple, it produces good results. Just make sure you dilute it with a carrier oil like almond or jojoba before applying. Straight peppermint essential oil can irritate the skin. Other popular options for headache relief include eucalyptus essential oil and blends like Tension Relief Synergy.
Not being able to sleep is never fun. But when you’re away from home, it can be especially problematic. Those racing thoughts and the resulting fatigue, can put a serious damper on your work performance and/or your ability to enjoy yourself. Fortunately, traditional sleep medicines and all their side effects aren’t your only option. According to a 2014 review, essential oils may be helpful for mild sleep disturbances. And lavender essential oil, in particular, stands out. Often used in pillow sprays, lotions and Epsom salt baths, it has a sweet, dry scent that promotes calm and relaxation. Other essential oils known for their ability to help with insomnia include mandarin, vetiver and rose absolute. There are even special blends for kids that can safely help promote calmness and relaxation before bedtime, so everyone can wake up refreshed and ready to go.
Just ask any experienced traveler: Jet lag can put a damper on even the most well-planned excursions. Fly across a couple of time zones and you might find yourself dealing with fatigue, irritability and maybe even gastrointestinal problems. It’s all due to your circadian rhythms. This internal “clock” tells your body when to stay awake and when to go to sleep. Problems arise when this internal clock remains synched to your original time zone.
However, having a few key essential oils for travel on hand can help your body adjust to time changes faster and minimize the effects of jet lag. Peppermint essential oil, for instance, is known for its revitalizing and energizing properties. Inhaling this strong, fresh scent is a great way to wake up a foggy mind. A few drops of lemon and eucalyptus globulus essential oil sprinkled on the shower floor can also help shake off grogginess. Chamomile essential oil, on the other hand, is a calming and relaxing scent that can help circadian rhythms adjust more quickly at bedtime so you can get to sleep.
When queasiness hits, once again, it’s peppermint essential oil to the rescue.
Inhaled straight from the bottle or diluted and applied to the temples or back of the neck, this fresh, cooling scent is the most popular home remedy for motion sickness and nausea. Another tried and true option is ginger. It’s common knowledge that sipping ginger tea or drinking ginger ale can help with a queasy stomach. So, it makes sense that ginger essential oil is often used in essential oil blends for stomach upset. Just dilute with your favorite carrier oil and massage directly on the stomach. It can also be helpful to make a personal inhaler that can be used on the go for long car and plane rides.
That essential oil blend you packed for nausea? Turns out it may do double-duty for digestion issues as well. When diluted with a carrier oil and rolled or massaged onto the abdomen, stomach relief blends may help calm nausea, encourage smooth digestion, ease gas and bloating and promote regularity. Other essential oils that are helpful for tummy troubles include ginger root and dill weed. For children, sweet-smelling spearmint essential oil and blends like Tummy All Better are a safe and convenient way to keep everyone feeling their best on long trips.
Traveling for vacation often means more time outdoors or in tropical climates. And that can mean more bugs–and possibly bites. Luckily, essential oils can help in several ways. First, fragrances like citronella and lemon eucalyptus may be helpful in repelling insects. To use on the go, dilute with water in a glass spray bottle and apply to clothing or skin. Or dilute with a carrier oil in a roller. For those who want the power of many oils at once, pre-made synergy blends can also be used in the same way to help keep pesky critters at bay.
But what if the bugs find their way to you and you end up with a bunch of itchy, inflamed bites? It turns out there are several essential oils that have antimicrobial properties that may help reduce the risk of infection. Of these, peppermint essential oil is a favorite due to its fresh scent and cooling sensation on the skin. Tea tree essential oil is another popular choice for bug bites. Not only does it have the potential to reduce the risk of infection, research in a study in the British Journal of Dermatology suggests that it may reduce histamine (and therefore itching) when applied topically.
4 Essential Travel Tips
When it comes to traveling with essential oils, the most important thing to know is this: it’s easier than you think. Thanks to a whole array of innovative solutions like balms, creams, pre-made rollers, portable aromatherapy inhalers, travel-sized essential oil diffusers and carrying cases for bottles, you can transport your favorite essential oils safely to your final destination without worrying about spilling or leakage.
Tip #1: Take time to plan ahead
No matter where you’re going or why, planning ahead is the single most important thing you can do. This will ensure that you have all the essential oils and accessories you need to make your trip as comfortable and relaxing as possible. Start by considering what kind of issues/ailments you’re likely to encounter. If you’re traveling to a remote tropical location, bug bites and digestive issues may be a concern. Headed off on a stressful work trip? You may want remedies for things like headache and insomnia.
Also, think about the modes of transportation you’ll be using. Airplane travel may require extra careful packing to ensure your essential oils don’t leak in transit. And certain items, like mini USB diffusers, might be better suited for car trips where you’re not seated near strangers. The bottom line is, by taking the time to consider the unique circumstances of your trip, you’re more likely to have the essential oils you need at-the-ready.
Tip #2: On planes, make packing a priority
When navigating airline travel with essential oils, packing is key.
Whether you’re checking luggage or putting all your liquids in the quart-sized Ziploc bag that’s allowed for carry-ons, preventing leaks should be your primary concern. Be sure to double-check all lids because many oils can eat through plastic bags. By using a carrying case designed especially for essential oils AND then placing it in a plastic bag, you can minimize your chances of a leak onto your clothes or belongings. Spray bottles tend to leak, so pack them empty if you need them for pillow or room sprays. Add water and essential oils at your destination.
Planes use recirculated air. So, it’s best not to use essential oils when flying. And definitely, don’t open a bottle and risk having it spill on a plane full of people who may not love the scent as much as you do. However, if there’s an oil that you really want to use, apply it to your body or a piece of jewelry designed for essential oils before boarding.
Tip #3: Put the brakes on car spills
Cars are a great place to use essential oils. However, once again, spillage is a major concern. Drop an open bottle between your seats and it could be filling your car with fragrance for a very long time! In order to prevent spills, go for options like rollers, sprays and mini USB diffusers that you can prepare before getting into your vehicle. Packing pre-made rollers for kids is another great way to be prepared for minor ailments and boo-boos along the way.
Tip #4: Don’t forget your hotel room essentials
It’s a fact: No matter how much you paid for your accommodations, a strange or musty odor in the room can make it feel less than luxurious. Fortunately, having the right essential oils on hand can help you freshen things up and make you feel good about where you’re staying. Popular room-freshening scents include staples like lemon and orange, as well as lesser-known options like kumquat. Just take an empty spray bottle and make a DIY room or linen spray.
Spray in the air, on pillows and bed linens or use to wipe down bathroom counters and fixtures. You can even pour a few drops near the drain in the shower for a spa-like shower experience. For an even stronger scent, pack a small diffuser that you can leave running. This can be especially good for those who use lavender essential oil to help promote sleep.
Bottom line? Bring the scents that soothe you.
No matter where you’re going, essential oils may be able to help make your trip more enjoyable. All it takes is a little bit of planning, smart packing and preparation and you’ll be ready to breathe in all the new adventures life has for you.