Summer’s here and for most people that means it’s vacation travel season. Whether you’re traveling by car or plane, going on a long trip or a weekend getaway, no matter what time of the year it is, it helps to be prepared for some of the unexpected upsets and minor ailments that can sometimes mar a perfectly good vacation.
The biggest of these is probably the stress that simply comes with travel — delayed, canceled, or missed flights, lost luggage or misplaced documents, a flat tire or other major car trouble, motion sickness, jet lag, and various camping-related mishaps natural hair.
Then there are the more common culprits like colds and allergies, upset stomach or digestive stress, headaches, insomnia, fatigue, minor cuts and bruises, blistered feet, rashes or hives, chafing, and sun burn.
There are a number of surprisingly simple ways you can use essential oils, alone or combined with other plant-based ingredients, to address these problems head on and avoid the kind of misery that can make you wish you’d stayed home.
1. Colds, Allergies and Sinus Congestion
With plants, flowers, and grasses in full bloom, pollen is everywhere making summertime synonymous with allergies. Then there’s the congestion that accompanies minor colds you can pick up from air-borne bacteria on planes, trains, and buses, not to mention airports and climate-controlled hotels. To minimize the likelihood of picking up someone else’s cold, wash hands frequently with soap and keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer (preferably one made with essential oils) with you for when you can’t.
To ease congestion, Eucalyptus Radiata essential oil is your best option. It is the gentlest and safest of the various types of Eucalyptus available and can be applied frequently without irritation. For a more powerful decongestant, try our Breathe Ease Diffuser Blend (see our Guide to Diffuser Blends for ingredients and suggested uses). In extreme cases, a trace amount of Peppermint essential oil applied to the back of the roof of your mouth can bring fast and effective relief.
2. Upset Stomach or Digestive Stress
There are several essential oils that can assist with stomach upset and indigestion including Sweet Fennel, Ginger, Lemon, Peppermint, and Tea Tree. For relief from minor nausea and indigestion, place 1 drop of peppermint and 2 drops of sweet fennel in 24 oz of purified water. This also makes a cool, refreshing drink that you can use in place of plain drinking water. For stronger, faster relief of indigestion or nausea, add a drop of peppermint or ginger to a teaspoon of honey and place in a cup of hot water or herbal tea (Chamomile, Ginger, or Licorice Root tea will increase the effectiveness). For fast relief from diarrhea, add one drop of tea tree oil to a cup of chamomile or peppermint tea (or hot water if no tea is available but be prepared for the unpleasant taste). Repeat until discomfort subsides.
3. Headaches and/or Insomnia
Lavender essential oil is a remarkably effective antidote to minor headaches and accompanying muscle tension, and can provide a sense of calm when you have difficulty sleeping in a strange or uncomfortable place. For relief from migraine headaches try our Head Ache Blend, which combines lavender with peppermint (a cooling analgesic), marjoram (a sedative and muscle relaxant), basil, and chamomile, and comes already diluted in Jojoba oil for direct application to the affected areas (temples, forehead, brows and neck muscles). For insomnia, try our Sleep Ease Diffuser Blend, which combines lavender, tangerine, marjoram, spruce, and petitgrain.
With the exceptions of lavender and tea tree, undiluted essential oils should be used with a portable diffuser. If you’re camping or somewhere where you can’t use a diffuser, put a drop or two on a handkerchief or bandanna and wrap around your head or tuck under your pillow and breathe in the vapors. Don’t over-use.
Jet lag, stress, long drives, and extended sight seeing excursions (especially on foot) can lead to exhaustion and fatigue. The best way to deal with this is to pace yourself, try not to cram your schedule with more activities than you can realistically handle, eat a good amount of protein (preferably at breakfast), and always stay hydrated. Essential oils that can help are Eucalyptus (mental clarity) and Peppermint (stimulant) or try our Stay Alert Diffuser Blend, which includes both along with Rosemary, Cinnamon Leaf, Orange, and Cedar wood. Use this with a Car Scenter diffuser to help you stay awake during long drives. To relieve tired and achy feet, put a drop in a tepid foot bath, or several drops in a tablespoon of carrier oil for a stimulating foot massage.
5. Minor Cuts, Scrapes and Other Skin Eruptions
Minor wounds (i.e. splinters, hang nails, insect bites, blisters, cuts, scrapes and burns) need to be disinfected and treated immediately or they can lead to painful inflammation and a variety of uncomfortable skin eruptions. This is when Tea Tree oil can become a reliable and trusty friend! It kills bacteria, cleanses wounds, and promotes speedy healing. Like Lavender, it can be applied “neat” (directly) to the skin. Think of it as an invisible liquid band aid. Our Boo Boo Blend, which combines tea tree with lavender, geranium, and chamomile (anti-inflammatory) is an excellent choice as well. For sunburn relief combine 1 teaspoon of Lavender or Boo Boo blend with 4 oz of aloe vera juice and store in a spritzer bottle. Substitute 1 oz of peppermint hydrosol for the aloe juice to enhance the cooling effect. Shake well and spray liberally –as often as needed to reduce pain and speed healing.