Traveling is a mix of wonderful and exhausting. The joy of exploring new places, relationships, and foods we have never tasted is a beautiful thing to experience. Amidst the expansive nature of travel, it can be hard to stay grounded and stable, especially for someone who is Vata in nature or has a Vata imbalance. The nature of travel is Vata, and it embodies movement and expansiveness. When we travel, we incorporate the principle of movement into our lives and increase the level of Vata. Since Vata is the subtlest of the doshas, it is quickly thrown out of balance, which means we must take extra care to keep grounded and stable. But don't worry, Ayurveda offers excellent tips to help better navigate your energy and keep your body, mind, and spirit in balance while traveling.
1. Carry your daily routines with you.
Just as Ayurveda suggests to incorporate daily routines to maintain balance in ordinary life, you would try to keep many of those routines while traveling. Try eating your meals at the same time each day to help your digestive process acclimate to the change. Regulate your bedtime and morning wake up. Our routines stabilize us and support our circadian rhythms.
2. Pack some Triphala.
Have you ever had a long flight and noticed you do not poop for a day, or two, or three? It is likely because the Vata elements of air and ether permeate the airplane: cold, dry, and moving hundreds of miles a minute. These qualities will naturally increase the Vata in your body and affect your bowel movements. Start taking Triphala a couple of days before you travel, and continue to take it during your trip. This will not only help offset the effect of the flight, but it will be helpful in digesting new the delightful new foods you will be trying.
3. Eat foods that are grounding.
Raw foods, salads, dried fruit, and smoothies are all drying foods that will further aggravate Vata dosha. Skip the chips and grab a meal that is warm, moist, and perhaps heavier. Root vegetables, soups, fish, chicken, and oatmeal with cooked apples are a few ways to eat grounding foods. Bring herbal teas or digestive teas on the airplane with you and ask for hot water instead of the beverages they serve. Also, pack a bag of healthy, non-salted raw nuts to eat on the plane instead of the snacks they provide.
4. Stay hydrated.
To appease the dry qualities of Vata, staying hydrated is key! Hydration is not only through water but through oil too. Pack a small amount of ghee or good quality olive oil and use one teaspoon each morning while you travel. This will help nourish and lubricated the dry and depleted channels traveling can bring. The practice of abhyanga, or self-massage, is also great for providing hydration and its nourishing touch and helping us feel calm. Bring an oil blend of sesame and almond oil with a few drops of lavender essential oil with you and apply it daily before or after your shower.
Sip warm water or room temperature water throughout the day. If you sip your drinks instead, your body will absorb and assimilate the liquids better. Stay away from cold water as it dampens our Agni (digestive fire) and it can add to the Vata imbalance.
5. Rest & reflect.
Often in the effort to maximize our vacations, we overlook the need to rest and rejuvenate. With new sights and experiences, our senses are already heightened with stimulation, which can be overwhelming for Vata. Find the time with in your trip to withdraw your senses. Go inward, though mediation, or pranayama. Allow yourself to be present with your experience, and journal daily gratitudes, expereinces or contemplations throughout your travels.
6. Have a day of rejuvenation upon your return home.
Instead of heading straight into the office after a long trip, have one day to reground at home. Let your body rest; drop back into your daily routines. Allow this day to be a ritual of self-love and re-connection to yourself and the life you have at home.