When I’m traveling, I’m easy to spot.
I’m that girl stirring green powder into her fruit smoothie on the street in Thailand. The one sprinkling chia seeds on her breakfast at the hostel. The one brewing her own science experiments in her backpack to protect her from getting food poisoning.
I’m that girl who will hand you charcoal to cure your stomach bug. The one who will insist you inhale her essential oils when you’re nauseous on the bus. The one who openly talks about coffee enemas and parasite cleanses with cute boys.
I’m that crazy hippie health nut girl.
Because I’ve also been the girl with food poisoning in hostels for days on end. With fevers on party islands in a beach shack. With chest infections in tropical storms. With a bloated belly after months of bread in Europe, feeling insecure because of her broken out skin. I’ve been the girl who almost quit traveling, because she wanted so desperately to feel healthy again.
I decided that I never wanted to sacrifice travel for health, and I never wanted to sacrifice health for travel. There had to be a way to have both.
Two years ago, in Southeast Asia, I shared with you all my Travel Wellness Kit, and it served me well for a long time. However since then, I’ve learned some new tricks, traded up, and created what I believe to be a more effective, longer lasting wellness kit. When I’ve got these goods, I know I can handle what the road throws at me.
Without further ado, here’s my latest ultra witchy hippie dippie travel wellness kit:
What I Get Locally
Oh wait, just kidding. Let’s start off with what I get locally. Because I believe, that going local is always the best way. You carry less luggage, save money, contribute to the local economy, and receive the experience of connecting with the food medicine of your environment.
In the tropics I always buy fresh herbs, ginger, garlic, chilies, limes, and turmeric from the morning markets. I make a special tea that stimulates digestion and kills any bacteria or virus. Local honey and bee pollen are readily available in most countries in the world, and help acclimate you to the local environment preventing you from getting allergies.
Young coconuts are antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, and ultra hydrating. Papaya is full of enzymes to help digestion and the seeds are known to kill parasites. Aloe grows wild and is sold in markets in many countries in the world, which not only saves sunburned skin and cleans wounds, but also repairs the digestive tract after food poisoning.
I always make sure to buy high quality, cold pressed oil, whether it’s olive oil in Spain, argan oil in Morocco, or coconut oil in Thailand. I slather it on my skin, put it in my hair, and use it to cook with.
Alright, for real now, this is what I pack:
The biggest change to my new wellness kit is the addition of high quality essential oils. It’s hard for me to imagine I ever traveled without them. These ultra potent powerhouses come in tiny bottles that you can take in your carry on, last for months, and have so many uses. I also have tiny sample bottles that I carry in my daypack wherever I go.
I always travel with tea tree, for its antibacterial properties that come in handy for wounds, insect bites, and blemishes. I’ve also started using a blend called Purification (which includes tea tree) that’s great for cuts, insect repellent, and even deodorant. Copaiba is the strongest anti-inflammatory in the world and I’ve found it extremely useful for relieving the itch and swelling from insect bites. DiGize, another blend I use, is great for nausea and when taken in high doses can actually kill parasites. Peppermint is another one I always travel with because I get motion sickness easily, and inhaling it stops the spins.
To boost my immune system and balance my stomach acid, so important when traveling, I have a homemade morning tincture made from 10 drops of Thieves essential oil, 10 drops of Copaiba, 5 drops of Lemon, and 25 drops of olive oil. Most mornings I get a big glass of warm water and squeeze half of a fresh lemon, along with a few drops of the tincture. I have not been sick once since I started taking this four months ago.
Read more about how I use essential oils for travel (and sign up to order them wholesale) in my post Why I’m Obsessed With Essential Oils.
If you travel with just one thing on this list, let it be water kefir grains. These tiny freeze dried crystals are packed with thousands of strains of probiotics, enabling you to rehydrate them on the road and brew your own powerful probiotic beverage. When I started using water kefir, it completely changed my life, preventing me from ever getting food poisoning, and almost always preventing me from getting sick.
I know what you’re thinking, why not just bring probiotic pills? In my experience, even the highest quality probiotics (we’re talking $100 a month) are not as effective as water kefir. Plus, eventually you will run out, which will certainly happen if you’re on a long backpacking trip.
The beautiful thing about water kefir, is that you can continue to make and consume it indefinitely. All that you need is a glass jar, the water kefir grains (completely vegan, dairy free), filtered water, and sugar.
Read more about how to make your own water kefir in my post How to Travel the World and Never Get Food Poisoning.
For me and activated charcoal, it was love at first swallow. It clears food poisoning within hours, makes my skin glow, and since I started using it in my toothpaste, my teeth have never been whiter. Because it’s ultra absorbent and detoxifying, the charcoal attracts and collects poison and toxicity, that you then flush out. You can buy it in pill form or in a loose powder. The pills are less messy for travel, but I like the powder, which is easier for me to add to a skin scrub with coconut oil and raw sugar, or sprinkle into a homemade coconut oil and peppermint toothpaste.
When I travel in places where dark greens are impossible to come by, spirulina powder is a lifesaver. It may not have the same nutrition as a bunch of kale, but one small teaspoon is packed with iron, vitamins, minerals, omega 3s, and protein. It’s extremely anti-inflammatory and when you’re struggling to even find vegetables, it might save your health! It tastes really really bad, so your best bet is to order a fruit smoothie (no sugar please!) and stir in a teaspoon of the powder. Though I’ve gotten pretty used to the taste and can now handle it just stirred with water.
Pink Himalayan Salt
It doesn’t take up much space at all, is packed with important minerals, and is soooo much healthier for you than the bad quality salt that’s sold in supermarkets all over the world.
Ok, so you would assume that you can get baking soda anywhere, right? Color me surprised when I got to Morocco and even in a fancy grocery store that carried 10 different brands of ice cream, they didn’t have it. The good news is, it’s a powder so you can absolutely pack it in your carry on and a little goes a long way. Baking soda has seriously saved my life when I was very, ahem, backed up. If you struggle with that problem when traveling, it’s a MUST. Mix a half teaspoon with warm water and lemon juice to drink first thing the morning and your problem will be… eliminated.
I also use baking soda to make my own deodorant, toothpaste, and clarifying shampoo. Even hair stylists have told me that the most effective way to clean your scalp (necessary weekly if you’re a beach bum like me) is to mix a spoonful of baking soda with your regular shampoo.
While in the past I had problems with not being able to keep anything in, after excessive quantities of bread in Morocco, I had precisely the opposite problem. Getting raw vegetables, or really anything with fiber, seemed nearly impossible. Since then I’ve vowed never to travel without digestive enzymes.
When your diet is constantly changing and often less than ideal, your digestion is bound to get out of whack. Taking a supplement replenishes your body with the digestive enzymes necessary to break down your food so that you can actually absorb nutrients and eliminate more effectively. I recommend taking a couple with every meal, especially if you’re already having digestion issues.
Homeopathic Sleep Aid
I’m pretty sure that the number one reason why our immune systems go down when traveling, is a lack of sleep. Between red eye flights, long bus rides, and constantly changing beds, we rarely get the rest we really need. When I planned to take the long haul flight from Seattle all the way to Vietnam in the middle of the night, I wanted to arrive fresh instead of jet lagged. I knew I needed to sleep on the plane.
Well, I can almost never sleep on the plane. Back in my pre-health nut days I even took a Valium once, which believe it or not made me MORE chatty. This time I bought Natural Factor’s Tranquil Sleep, natural homeopathic chewable sleep tablets with valerian root in them. I took two, fell asleep during take off (?!?!) and didn’t wake up until we were landing. I slept 11 hours on an airplane. That’s scary effective.
Sometimes it’s hard to know where your next meal is coming from during long travel days. That’s why I always travel with chia seeds. They have protein, fiber, and tons of Omega 3s, and are known for offering a boost of energy. I add them to my water (which they turn into a gel) if I’m stuck on a long bus ride or sprinkle them on a fruit salad at breakfast so I can get some protein.
Yes, we’re going there. We’re going to talk about enemas. Because there’s nothing sexier than a clean liver and clear skin, and the travel lifestyle can take a toll on both. Specifically, I’m talking about coffee enemas, which I believe are the most effective way to cleanse the liver that exists. I’m very sensitive to caffeine, so I don’t drink coffee, but I haven’t had a problem taking it this way. By retaining the coffee (fair trade organic please) it moves through your colon into you liver, opening up your bile ducts and allowing the toxins to release. I’ve had my skin clear up within hours of doing one, and I always feel lighter and more energized afterwards. It’s especially good to do after a long flight or after a bout of food poisoning. Order your bag online here, and be sure to pack some good quality coffee.
Travel Yoga Mat
Travel is hard on your body. It just is. You’re probably walking more than you’ve ever walked in your life, doing all sorts of physical activities you’ve never done before, and sitting in cramped uncomfortable spaces for long flights, train rides, and bus rides. Yoga is the answer.
I’m a pretty strong believer that yoga is in fact the answer to everything, for everyone. Because there is a yoga for every body. Whether you have injuries, tight muscles, a restless mind, sleep problems, digestion difficulties, or headaches, there is a yoga for you. Whether you struggle with accepting your self worth, believing in your dreams, being alone, being with others, motivating yourself, letting yourself relax, there is a yoga for that. Even just spending ten minutes in the morning to breathe and stretch can profoundly change your life.
Fortunately yoga has spread across the world, making it easy to take classes anywhere, but I still travel with my own mat. This way I can do yoga whenever I want, wherever I want, especially when I’m totally off the grid. I used to travel with the Manduka ecoLite travel mat, but it’s very very very thin and not very supportive. I’ve since upgraded to the slightly thicker (so it doesn’t pack quite as easily) Jade Travel Mat.
More important than what you put in and on your body, is the energy and attitude that you radiate from within. Learn a healing art, become certified in Reiki, give yourself massages, do trades with other travelers. Smile. Be positive, be happy, relax, and you will be the healthiest you that exists. Take that attitude with you wherever you go. There’s no better medicine.
What do you bring with you when you travel the world to stay vibrant and healthy?