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My Travel Wellness Kit

Travel Wellness ki

 

Most days I’m the weirdest traveler in the guesthouse.

 

“What’s that?” people hesitantly ask and point to my glass jar of bacteria.

 

“Umm what are you drinking?” they probe with concern as I mix green powders into my fruit smoothie.

 

Last night my dorm mate was stricken with food poisoning. I mixed black charcoal powder with water and offered it to her to drink.

 

I may be eccentric, but I’m pretty damn healthy.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

My immune system has never been strong. With constant strep throat, sinus infections, and the stomach flu as a child, I took many courses of antibiotics throughout my life. When I left home for college my illness amplified. Chronic cough kept me awake at night for most of Spring quarter and monthly bladder infections pulled me out of class.

 

You can imagine what happened when I started traveling.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

My already struggling immune system had no armor against the intense physical strain and exhaustion. I was a victim many times to questionable street food. Last January alone I had four rounds of food poisoning. Fevers and frequent bathroom visits became a regular part of my life.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

However last May, after being pummeled by a virus on a remote island, I found myself so worn down and exhausted that I simply could not continue traveling. I realized that my physical wellness was essential in pursuing my passions. I returned to Puerto Viejo on a mission to take control of my health.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

Puerto Viejo is a place where one can cure his own cancer as easily as he can drink himself to death. In the past I skirted the gray space between: passionate in my yoga practice in the morning, dedicated to my dance moves in beach bars at night. This time was different.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

Visiting Dr Gregory Damato at the Tierra de Suenos Wellness Center was a huge turning point. In addition to creating a natural treatment plan to restore my health after a year of antibiotics and food poisoning, he opened my eyes to the truth that I have the ability to heal myself, no matter what ails me. He showed me that food was more than calories and pleasure; it was medicine.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

I also began practicing Reiki. A dear friend and gifted yoga instructor, Kristin, attuned me in Reiki through a course at her studio Om Yoga in Puerto Viejo. Adopting this practice into my repertoire gave me another tool for self-healing that went beyond food. It also allowed me to heal others.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

Fortuitously, during my Reiki Level I course, I met a fascinating woman named Graciella. In the past she worked as a medical doctor in San Jose. Today she practices Reiki in the jungle. She and her husband, a hippie from San Francisco, are strong believers in the power of probiotics. Graciella spoke to me about the importance of regularly ingesting fermented foods with the ferver of a Baptist Minister.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

So I began cleansing. I began giving myself Reiki. I began making kefir and sauerkraut. I became immersed in alternative medicine and healing. I realized that feeling good began with taking care of my body.

 

Two months ago when the time came to hit the road again, I was determined to maintain my health. Sure I could stay healthy in the hippie enclave of Puerto Viejo or in Seattle with the comforts of home, but what about backpacking through Southeast Asia?

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

In preparation, I departed Vietnam armed with my most essential health supplies. I’m happy to report that it has gone quite well. With the exception of a cold my first week in Vietnam and a brief stomach bug I have stayed healthy, even after countless overnight bus rides, rooms with air conditioning, and sharing beds with friends with fevers.

 

This is what I packed:

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

Coconut Oil

 

This wonder oil is antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal. I drink raw organic coconut oil in my smoothie, lather it on my skin, brush my teeth with it, and even use it as sunscreen. It protects against parasites in the tropics, repels insects, has an SPF10, and smells oh so good. Make sure that the brand you buy is organic and cold pressed to retain the beneficial enzymes.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

Spirulina Powder

 

Before I left I knew that I would go through serious green veggie withdrawal. For months I was drinking a green smoothie every morning loaded with kale and spinach. While I miss that smoothie dearly, I’ve compromised by adding spirulina powder to my water or fruit smoothie. I packed a large bag to last me months. Spirulina has tons of vitamins and minerals found in dark leafy greens. The taste is not the greatest, but if you mix into a mango banana shake it’s not bad at all. Expect a green mustache and lots of stares.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

Chlorella

 

Chlorella is a powerful cleanser that I use only occasionally. It works by binding with heavy metals and toxins then flushing them from your system. I find it to be quite potent so I reserve it for the day after flying or when I have a stomach virus.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

Grapefruit Seed Extract

 

I packed grapefruit seed extract for its versatility. It is a natural antiseptic, which I use for cleaning wounds, mixing with water for a mouthwash, and drinking diluted in water to maintain a healthy ph level in my stomach.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

Activated Charcoal

 

What would I do without this miracle powder? It is the only thing I have ever taken, pharmaceuticals included, that clears up stomach poisoning almost instantly. You can purchase it in pill form, but I prefer the versatility of the activated charcoal powder. I use it as a skin scrub mixed with coconut oil to detox and exfoliate, occasionally brush my teeth with it for a whitening treatment, and mix a small amount with water to drink when my stomach is acting up.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

Tea Tree Oil

 

I did not actually pack tea tree oil, but I really wish I had. In the past I have used it to clear up infected wounds. It is quite potent and is proved to even kill staph infections. It also works as an insect repellent when mixed with coconut oil and applied to your skin. You can find inexpensive tea tree oil at Trader Joe’s.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

Enema Bag

 

Ok, humor me for a moment. I know this makes most people squeamish, but I promise it’s really not that bad! In fact I feel pretty amazing after doing a coffee enema. My skin clears up, my energy lifts, and I feel a strong sense of clarity. Unfortunately it is not the most convenient tool when you are sleeping in hostels with shared bathrooms. I typically aim to do one per week, though when traveling it has been less frequent. I recommend doing a coffee enema after flights and when you have food poisoning in particular. Make sure to do your research, enemas are controversial, but in my experience when done properly they are completely safe and highly beneficial. You can order enema bags online and be sure to use filtered clean water and organic coffee.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

Water Kefir

 

Full disclosure: traveling with water kefir is a pain. It needs to be fed daily, it takes up space, and sometimes my jar leaks. However for me the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience. Water kefir is a fermented drink made from kefir grains, sugar, and water, and produces thousands of strains of probiotics. Probiotics are, in my opinion, the single most important supplement for your health, particularly when traveling. Taking probiotic supplements is certainly more convenient, however if you are taking high quality pills they can get quite expensive. Also, I find that making your own probiotic foods is much more effective than probiotic pills and purchased probiotic foods because you are using the bacteria that actually exists in your local environment.

 

If you want to set up your own water kefir batch, you can start by finding someone in your local community who has some water kefir grains to share or you can pick up dehydrated water kefir crystals from a local co-op or order them online.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

Yoga, Meditation, and Reiki

 

I strongly believe that health and wellness is more than what you put into your body. Illness can often emerge from our emotions, particularly stress, anxiety, and fear. By regularly practicing meditation, yoga, and Reiki, I seek to restore balance in my mind, body, and spirit. Plus it just feels damn good to stretch your muscles, clear your mind, and relax.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

I’ve fortunately had access to some of my health staples in the countries I’ve traveled through. In Vietnam I was able to find raw cacao (for Magnesium), chia seeds (for fiber and omega 3s), and local bee pollen (vitamin B and other minerals). There are also loads of natural, indigenous health treatments all over the world if you ask the locals. In the tropics the aloe vera plant, young coconut, ginger, and turmeric can all be used as medicine for various ailments. Best of all they are cheap and readily available.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

While I have tried to use exclusively natural products, I have made a few exceptions in extreme circumstances. Early in my trip I got a nasty burn from the exhaust of a motorbike. After two weeks of cleaning with salt and grapefruit seed extract and coating with coconut oil, my wound was not healing and it was infected. I finally broke down and cleaned it with hydrogen peroxide and used antibiotic cream. Sometimes when you are traveling you have to weigh your risks. Developing a serious infection was too big of a cost for me.

 

Travel Wellness ki

 

Disclaimer: I am in no way a nutritionist or a health expert. These are simply the tools I have found that work for me. Please do your own research and use what works for you. Whether you have travel sickness, a chronic cough, or cancer, the more you research and experiment the more you empower yourself to take control of your own health. It could change your life.

 

What do you pack in your suitcase to stay healthy on the road? Are you a crazy hippie like me? :)

 

 


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Comments

  1. Bravo to you for not letting your tender physical state disrupt your resolve to travel — being true to your mantra of making travel your prime priority and living your values —- A very interesting post, makes me curious about natural health, tho I’m sure I don’t have the discipline to explore as you have

  2. This is great! Thank you for sharing your list. I use most of these things in my everyday routine in the States – but it is good to hear that you can travel with them and use them in other countries. I wouldn’t have thought of bringing kefir with me – but now I will! Hope you stay healthy and happy out there! :)

  3. Hey girl! Love the info here! Where did you get your powdered charcoal? I’m heading home tomorrow for a bit and I will purchase a bunch of these things while I’m in the states. xoxo

    • This American Girl Says: December 4, 2013 at 7:57 pm

      Thank you! I actually bought mine in Puerto Viejo at the farmer’s market! But you can buy them in any health store. I usually have just seen the pills. And of course online you can find anything and everything.

  4. Thank you so much for posting this, I’ve got about 6 months till I begin my travels and I have been super curious about many of the things you posted above. This information will be very beneficial for me.

  5. This is my favorite post yet! So many good tips and ideas to think about. Thanks lady! :)

  6. […] reading ThisAmericanGirl’s post regarding her Travel Wellness Kit I’ve been inspired to begin culturing my own Water Kefir(Super […]

  7. This is great, thank you! A wellness kit is definitely something I overlook in my attempt to pack superlight. I remember on my last trip, a good friend packed a big bag of doterra essential oils. many of them were medicinal, and used internally a drop or two at a time to cure a variety of ailments. The taste was awful, but definitely useful and saves space! Anyway, thanks for sharing, I will start to do this forward; I miss my green drinks when I travel too. I didn’t ever think about bringing the powder along with me!

    • This American Girl Says: December 9, 2013 at 7:35 am

      You’re welcome! Yes, I definitely wish I had more essential oils with me. Let me know anything else you think belongs in the kit :)

  8. This Charcoal powder is something I must look into. I sometimes battle with stomach problems!

  9. Can I find good *organic* coconut oil somewhere in Puerto Viejo? I’d love to buy some :)

  10. Banana Bug Says: May 31, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Thank you. I’m printing this. I’ve used coconut oil, natural sources of magnesium and other things for decades. I’ve often wondered how you manage to live/travel with the locals, consume the traditional cuisine of so many countries and . . . . . still write such lively, healthy, positive blogs! Have you ever picked-up a strange “parasite”? A travelers worst fear!

    • Camille Willemain Says: June 1, 2014 at 8:26 am

      Aw thank you so much! Hm have I gotten a strange parasite? Not sure, most likely considering how sick I’ve been but as soon as I get back to my probiotics everything always balances out :)

  11. I am a crazy hippie also. I do have to say, it sounds like you may have an allergy to something. I had sicknesses like you, found out I was allergic to gluten and have removed most of the dairy also, and am rarely sick now and have way more energy. You might try removing those two things for a few months and see what happens. Thanks for the specifics though & have great fun with your travels! :)

    • Camille Willemain Says: June 20, 2014 at 9:59 am

      Thank you! I’ve definitely noticed that when I’m traveling, as long as I have kefir water I don’t get food poisoning. However, I also discovered in Southeast Asia that I’m allergic to dairy, as my skin now completely breaks out when I eat it after basically going off it for 6 months. I may also be allergic to gluten, generally I try to eat as little of it as possible. Thanks for the advice!

  12. […] to replace dark leafy greens, and any healthy snacks or bars I have space for. Check out my Travel Wellness Kit for more of what I pack to stay healthy on the […]

  13. Great Read! This is very helpful to me because I’m a frequent traveler. The one thing that I’m always concerned about is my health. Will I get sick from eating the food? I try to eat healthy but it’s a struggle. I plan on getting better at choosing healthier food options. Thanks for sharing!
    http://www.inspireandlove.com

  14. Love your holistic approaches to health :)
    But… Do you recommend getting traveler’s insurance? We will be in Costa Rica for 6 weeks

    • Camille Willemain Says: October 23, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      Thank you Jasmine :) I personally don’t use traveler’s insurance, but it might not be a bad idea. I think it’s less important here than in SEA with poor healthcare and chance of motorbike injuries.

  15. Gearing up for a ltt to South America – used to making lots of fermented foods at home but haven’t tried water kefir and would love to know the logistics of how you made it on the go! thx

  16. […] For more of what keeps me healthy on the road, check out my Travel Wellness Kit. […]

  17. Great post! I will definitely be sharing it :)

  18. hi,
    i always carry tea trea oil and char coal with me. what i can also recommend are homeopathic remedies. but when using it u should deny mint and coffee.
    u can carry them easily since they dont take a lot of space and they work well and fast when you take the right ones.

    good health! *

  19. Great information! My grandfather was a medical doctor and in his day they used activated charcoal to treat stomach viruses, poisonings and some overdoses! I have an addition to the kit: I get motion sick in rough seas or mountain roads and swear by crystallized ginger (and acupressure wrist bands) I also travel with chamomile tea to calm the stomach and lavender oil for a good night sleep. Thanks for sharing your amazing experiences with us!

  20. Hi,
    I am like you. I am traveling with all sort of weird packages, chlorella tablets, essential oils, coconut oil.
    For the Emma bag it usually stays home and don’t bother to take it with me as I like to travel light.
    I am in Africa and I haven’t been sick yet.
    I wouldn’t travel without some clay. It allows me to drink whatever water available. I add one teaspoon of green illite powder clay per liter of water. You can the drink it or leave it at the bottom. It also helps against parasite, malaria and supposedly helps you cleansed.
    It’s also great for wounds and other injuries.
    Thanks for the great information.
    Martin

  21. […] about getting slapped in a bar, being heartbroken in Bali, having excessive food poisoning, and cleansing my liver with coffee enemas, yet I never seem to get to the bottom […]

  22. Thanks for the tips! I’m going to Sri Lanka for a year and trying to avoid sickness as much as possible, really appreciate you passing your experiences on. (I don’t know if you know anything about this but I was told not to eat ANY leafy greens there, which is going to make me very sad; is Spirulina the best option or is there a way to make foreign greens ok for my system?)

    • Camille Willemain Says: July 10, 2015 at 9:21 pm

      Hey Casey, hm that’s strange I haven’t heard anything about not using any of the leafy greens. Some people are weird about eating vegetables that can’t be peeled, but I just make sure to have my kefir water and it’s never a problem. In Southeast Asia I bought local green spinach all of the time. You should be fine :) BUT leafy greens can be hard to come by, which is why having the spirulina on hand is good.

  23. Is it easy to find essential oils in Costa Rica? I am planning to do some long term traveling there and don’t know if I should bring my tea tree, peppermint, and lavender oils with me or just buy them there?

    • Camille Willemain Says: July 29, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      Hey Leyla, hm you can buy Aromaflor which is awesome and made by my Costa Rica friend, but there definitely not easy to find everywhere. I think you need to go to her shop in San Jose. Personally I buy all of that stuff ahead of time, and I get my oils wholesale with Young Living. If you’re interested in getting wholesale essential oils, shoot me an email at camille@thisamericangirl.com.

  24. Camille, How do you bring the water kefir into a country that does not allow you to bring in foods that have been opened? Ex: Mexico

  25. We met Gregory Damato at Envision last year (after a month in PV!) and we learned all about chaga mushrooms. We were so surprised at his knowledge and cool attitude about health. We are back in Costa Rica and once again made it to Envision (this time staying in Dominical for a couple months). We visited Greg again and thanked him for catapulting us into the world of medicinal mushrooms. He and his family are such beautiful and authentic beings! I’m curious if you his wellness center is near PV?

    • Camille Willemain Says: March 9, 2016 at 10:45 pm

      That is so awesome!! Ok so they used to run the wellness program at Tierra de Suenos but now they do their own thing down here in Puerto Viejo :) I love his wife Hillary so much!