Traveling is a mix of wonderful and exhausting. While exploring new places, relationships, and foods adds beauty and joy to our lives, travel’s pleasures often come at a price. Amidst the expansive experience of travel, it’s easy to become unsettled and erratic, especially for someone who is vata in nature or has a vata imbalance. The nature of travel is vata, and this dosha embodies movement as well as spaciousness. When we travel, we incorporate the principle of movement into our lives and increase the level of vata. As the subtlest of the doshas, vata is quickly thrown out of balance, which means we must take extra care to stay grounded and stable. But don't worry: Ayurveda offers excellent tips to help better manage your energy and keep your body, mind, and spirit in balance while traveling.
1. Carry your daily routines with you.
The Ayurvedic principle of following daily routines can help us maintain balance not only when at home but also while traveling. Try eating your meals at the same time each day to help your digestive process acclimate to changes in your diet and environment. Regulate your bedtime and morning wake time. These practices stabilize us and help us stay in synch with our natural circadian rhythms.
2. Pack some Triphala.
Have you ever noticed that after a long flight, you do not poop for a day, or two, or three? This tends to happen because the vata elements of air and ether permeating the airplane are cold and dry and moving hundreds of miles a minute. These qualities will naturally increase the vata in your body and affect your bowel movements. To address this issue, 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 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 the 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 examples of grounding foods. Bring herbal or digestive teas on the airplane with you, and ask for hot water instead of the usual beverages served on board. Also, pack a bag of healthy unsalted raw nuts to eat on the plane instead of the snacks the airline provides.
4. Stay hydrated.
Staying hydrated is key to counteracting the dry qualities of vata! In addition to increasing your intake of fluids and water-rich fruits and vegetables, pack a small amount of ghee or good quality olive oil, and take one teaspoon each morning while you travel. Oils nourish and lubricate the dry, depleted channels traveling can bring. Using fragrant herbalized oils for abhyanga, or self-massage, is another great way to balance vata. This practice not only helps our skin retain moisture but also calms and nurtures us through our sense of touch. Blend sesame and almond oils with a few drops of lavender essential oil and bring it with you for a daily massage before or after your shower.
Sip warm or room temperature water throughout the day. If you sip your drinks instead gulping them, your body will absorb and assimilate the liquids better. Stay away from cold water as it dampens our agni (digestive fire) and can exacerbate a vata imbalance.
5. Rest and reflect.
Often in the effort to make the most of our vacations, we overlook the need to rest and rejuvenate. The new sights and experiences we’re taking in tend to heighten and stimulate our senses, which can prove overwhelming for anyone who’s dealing with an excess of vata. Find the time with in your trip to withdraw your senses. Go inward, though meditation or pranayama. Allow yourself to be present with your experience, and journal daily gratitudes, experiences, or insights throughout your travels.
6. Have a day of rejuvenation upon your return home.
Instead of heading straight into the office after a long trip, take 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 reconnection to yourself and the life you have at home.