Travel brings a change of routine and surroundings; it stimulates new ideas, creativity, and personal growth—and invites a sense of freshness into our lives and relationships.
However, the irregular nature of travel, the unexpected bumps on the road, and the food indulgences that often come with exploring new places can throw off your digestion—and so much more.
No matter what kind of traveler you are, Ayurveda on the road can help you avoid digestive drama while traveling, so you can set your sights on new delights.
For the Anxious Traveler (Vata Dominant)
Car trips and plane rides propel the body through space at high speeds, increasing the elements of air and space in both the body and mind. It’s no wonder a day of travel can leave you feeling spacey, out of sorts, or anxious.
Made up of the air and space elements, the vata dosha governs all movement in the body. It’s responsible for the movement of the muscles, respiration, and heart, as well as the flow of thoughts and emotions. So, excess movement such as long car rides and airplane travel, or irregularity in schedules, can upset these functions, causing stress, feelings of anxiousness, irregular digestion, or even occasional constipation.
Keep your digestive and elimination systems working properly while traveling with these simple tips:
>> Stay regular. Vata is balanced by regularity in routine. So when traveling, try to stick to your regular eating routine. Eat three nourishing meals at around the same times each day, with your main meal at lunch and dinner three hours before bed.
>> Pack the essentials: Nourishing snacks. Dry airport snacks or packaged crackers and chips from the gas station on the road increase the dry quality in the colon, the main site of vata. So, travel prepared. Pack a DIY version of instant oatmeal with a small container of ground oats; a teaspoon of ghee (which encourages natural elimination); a sprinkle of cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg; and find hot water in the airport coffee shop or when you make a stop on the road. Other healthy packable snacks are raisins mixed with nuts such as cashews, almonds, or walnuts; oranges; or a banana and almond butter, jelly and fresh-diced ginger sandwich for extra nourishment.
>> Support balanced elimination with one tablet of Triphala the morning of travel and one to two tablets at bedtime.
>> Have a cup of warm ginger tea, or vata-balancing tea, before or after meals. Cold drinks and carbonated beverages upset the flow of vata. And road trip meals tend to stress the digestive system, so travel with and sip ginger tea to promote healthy digestion.
For the Irritated Traveler (Pitta Dominant)
With travel comes the element of surprise. Whether it’s a delayed flight, long airport security lines, or a freeway traffic jam—before you know it, a vacation, or your temper, can go up in smoke.
Pitta, the dosha made of fire and water, is responsible for digestion and transformation in the body and mind. Its main site is the small intestine. When it is in balance, Pitta provides strong digestion, impressive organizational skills, and strong stamina. Out of balance, pitta is prone to acid indigestion, loose stools, excessive sweating, stubbornness, and impatience.
Keep Pitta pacified and peaceful on the road with these Ayurvedic tips:
>> Avoid overbooking the vacation “to-do” list. Pitta tends to go to extremes, so after making a list of sights to see, take one or two items off the list and take time to rest. Spending time in the cool mountains, near or in water, or any cooling environment pacifies pitta, so visit the mountains or a park with a pond; go kayaking; or try paddle boarding wherever your travels take you.
>> Stay hydrated, especially in the hot summer months. Cooling coconut water maintains a balanced internal body temperature and can cool heated digestion.
>> Brew your own cucumber water before you hit the road. Cool digestion and keep the internal fire of pitta in balance with a 24-ounce glass Mason jar filled with water and eight thin slices of fresh cucumber, one sprig of fresh mint, and three sprays of food-grade organic rose water.
>> Pack cooling snacks. Due to pitta’s strong digestion, it’s important to not get overly hungry. Pack organic oat-and-fruit cereal bars in your carry-on bag. Favor fresh, sweet, juicy fruits like plums, blueberries, apricots, and watermelon. Celery with almond butter or hummus, and cucumber sandwiches on sprouted wheat bread (sans the honey for sweetener) make great pitta-pacifying snacks.
For the Homebody (Kapha Dominant)
Road trips and vacations often come with tempting and tasty foods, and part of the fun of being on vacation is to treat yourself and indulge. However, too much overindulging can create problems for your digestion. Kapha, the dosha made of water and earth, provides the body with lubrication, support, and protection. It creates stability and patience in the mind, which is ideal when traveling.
The main site of kapha is the lungs, with some of the secondary sites being the sinuses, stomach, and joints. Overeating, eating late at night, or eating rich entrées and desserts can stress kapha dosha in the digestive system and sinuses, causing nausea, excess phlegm in the nose and throat, or slow and sluggish digestion—all of which can upset the enjoyment of your travel. Nothing can ruin a vacation like an upset stomach, or feeling congested or like you are getting a cold.
Enjoy the travel temptations in moderation and keep your digestion and respiratory systems balanced with these natural tips:
>> Keep large, late-night meals to a minimum. Eat your main meal at lunch when your digestive fire is strongest. If your main meal is heavy and rich, favor appetizers or desserts which are more light and dry. Try to eat your evening meal well before bedtime (three-plus hours).
>> Have your dessert at lunch! Avoid eating heavy, sweet desserts during the kapha time of day (6 p.m to 10 p.m.), when your digestive fire is low. But rather, if you desire, enjoy an ice cream sundae or chocolate cheesecake with your midday meal. If you do get a late-night sweet craving, favor warm fruit pie or split a dessert with your travel companion.
>> Energize with snacks. Due to kapha’s inherent nature of heavy, oily, and dense, it can tolerate the crunchy, munchy snacks that typically aggravate vata or pitta. Great snacks for the kapha-predominant are kale chips, raw veggies like cauliflower and broccoli, corn chips, or homemade popcorn.
>> Spice it up. Kapha is the one dosha that is energized by spicy food, and kaphas know this well. So don’t be afraid to spice it up when dining out.
>> Exercise. While traveling, all doshas benefit from exercise, but kapha dosha the most. Increasing your metabolism is a great way to keep kapha in balance.
Safe travels and enjoy your summer fun—while staying in balance.
Author: Valerie Brown
Image: Harvey Barrison/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Social Editor: Leah Sugerman