Many of us spend time traveling about. Some of us short distances and some of us long distances. Some of us travel frequently and some of us travel occasionally. The common theme is travel and the common elements involved are space and air. We travel through space and with time. Ayurveda considers these elements as being those that make up the word Vata. Vata, is a biomedical term that translates to "that which moves."  Vata governs the nervous system and has its main site in the pelvis. Catabolism. This is considered the south pole of the body but the north pole begins in the cranium with all that is wired from head to toe through the nerve tissue. This tissue is responsible for the communication that happens via the information highway and vehicles of the different and efferent neurons. Afferent, being that pathway that delivers information away from the brain and efferent being that which delivers information back to the brain.

The qualities of Vata are primarily dry, cold and88th light. Then, unstable, unpredictable, mobile and subtle. If we think about it, much of our experience that involves travel involves these qualities as well. When we are in a plane, we are 30,000 feet up in the air, where it is cold and dry.  Traveling hundreds, if not thousands of miles. Changing time zones and climates and seasons. When we are on land, the speed of a car, bike, motorcycle, bus or car possesses similar qualities as previously mentioned. Cruise ships as well. Any form of travel provokes the element of Vata.  We all possess an aspect of Vata because we possess all five elements according to Ayurveda. These five elements are Space/Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Fire and water combine to make up Pitta, the principle of digestion and hormones. Metabolism. Water and Earth combine to make Kapha, the principle of immunity. Anabolism.

Depending on our constitutional configuration of Vata, Pitta and Kapha, we will be more or less affected. Clearly, if our biology is predominantly Vata we are more likely to suffer the consequences more than the others. Typical symptoms of traveling involved: dry skin, dehydration, constipation, dry but then drippy noses. Sinus infections. Coughing (dry or wet.) Upper respiratory infections. Ear issues. Reduction in bone density. (Air pockets are present in bones and therefore directed by Vata) Pale color in complexion, disrupted sleep, such as insomnia and digestive difficulties. Increased anxiety. Malnutrition. (From eating on the go and/or poorer quality foods) Irritability. Increased irritability, from not being in one place long enough for stability. It's important to note here that Vata's natural tendency is to move, so a Vata predominant person will justify their wanting to keep moving or honor that they like to move around and travel often.  Unfortunately, time catches up to us all and if we perpetuate cycles that aren't aligned with preserving the integrity of our health we are likely to suffer from consequences affecting our health.

From my travels I have found the following remedies to maintain balance: 

1) Wear warm socks and keep feet covered, especially on planes. Cruise ships to the Bahamas, for example, or other warm climate, may be an exception.

2) When traveling by plane, wear shoes or heavy and closed footwear.

3) Especially on planes, apply a medicated oil before, during and after flights.  The longer the flight, the more you apply this oil to make sure that the sinus passages remain moist the entire time. Such medicated oils can be found on my website through links such as Banyan, Ayurvedic Institute, Life Spa or Sinus Support.

4) Stay hydrated. Warm water or hot teas. Only! Avoid cold/ice beverages on planes. You'll also find the hot beverages to aid with regulating bowel movement.

5) For any part of travel, especially long distances, take Triphala pills.  1-2, before, during and after travel, generally after meals.  This will also help to regulate bowel movements.

6) Depending on the means of travel and location and time of year, you'll find that applying a light coat of warm massage oil, from head to toe, will help ground the nervous system and keep the skin supple.

7) When traveling long distances and changing climates, eat basic simple foods the first day or two to allow the body to adjust.

8) Rest as needed and whenever possible. Listen to the body. When changing time zones, just go with it and do your best to let the body catch up.

9) Avoid traveling with babies by plane, or even long distances, especially with newborns. When they're on planes, the pressurized cavity of the plane itself, combined with the quality of air (dry and cold) and the atmospheric pressure due to changes in elevation gravely affect the intracranial membranes causing discomfort and even pain for the babies little brain and nervous system. Not to mention that this pressure externally alters the structures and pressure in the brain itself. Overall, this is interpreted as a trauma for the baby.  Poor little tikes.  Let's not forget that they start to cry and pretty much cry the entire time, causing passengers to feel irritated from the ongoing struggle and sound.  Do the babies, yourself and other passengers a favor and stay local until the baby is at least a year old.  This is the best remedy.

10) Eat warm foods while traveling. This nurtures the digestive organs and keeps the nervous system grounded.

11) If prone to or already a pre-existing immune issue is present, then taking supportive Ayurvedic herbs like Amalaki, Haritaki, Guduchi, Ashwagandha or even a formula called Immune Support (from Banyan Botanicals) can be of help. Vitamin C, Vitamin D and B-Complex are both very good for supporting immunity.  Furthermore, these herbs are great for balancing the transition of different clients. Travel can cause wear and tear on the body. These adaptogens help to counter the negative aspects of travel.

12) While traveling, especially on planes, avoid drinking alcohol.  Alcohol is generally astringent and drying which will increase dehydration, not to mention that it's usually served with ice which is a big NO NO, for many reasons. Sometimes individuals consume alcohol for inducing sleep.  There are more natural remedies for this. (See number 13.) Furthermore, if someone is traveling via cruise ship then alcohol, though. It encouraged, can be entertained for enjoyment. 

13) To promote sleep, I've found Banyan Botanical's formula "I Sleep Soundly" to be effective. Dose depends on sensitivity and constitutional considerations.

Though these are general resolutions to minimizing the effects of Vata and traveling, Vata will be situated because that's simply what happens. We can be more mindful now and reduce the circumstances that create the consequences. Ayurveda is the best preventative system of healthcare.

Disclaimer: this information is intended for educational purposes only. Any considerations of herbs or lifestyle changes should be reviewed with a qualified expert and/or primary care healthcare provider.