Travel is an adventure, and that’s why we love it. A chance to get away from the mundane everyday stuff we all get used to and have some fun. But adventure can sometimes bring surprises – insects that bite, food that doesn’t agree with us, weather we can’t predict, and accommodation that may be less than our usual standards of clean. Accidents happen, and it’s good to be prepared.
This is where a basic travel kit can be useful. Even if you only take one or two key creams and essential oils away with you, this may be enough to deal with many simple problems such as itching bites or sensitivity to the sun.
Essential oils come in tiny bottles, so they are a practical addition to your luggage, even if you’re only taking cabin bags. However, it’s still worth considering which are the most useful ones to take with you, so this blog is to help you find just a few essential oils that will come in most handy.
Our journey starts with travelling to our exciting holiday destination, but for some of us, this can be less than pleasurable. If you feel sick in a car or on a plane, then peppermint oil has a marvellously calming effect on the stomach. Place one drop of peppermint oil on a tissue under the car seat which will stop the feeling of nausea. Ginger is another great oil for travel sickness and can be mixed with a little carrier oil and massaged into the upper abdomen.
Travel sickness is often caused by conflicting messages reaching the brain from the eyes, the balancing mechanism in the ears, and the stomach. It helps to look at a non-moving object on the horizon, or if you are on a plane or a ship, to close your eyes.
If flying makes you anxious, add one drop of lavender oil and one drop of geranium oil to a tissue and place in a sealable bag in your pocket. When you begin to feel uneasy, pull the tissue out and hold to your nose for a moment. Inhale deeply, lie back, close your eyes, and relax.
Children on long flights can get fidgety and irritable. Prepare a bottle containing five drops of chamomile roman in one tablespoon of light carrier oil. If your child has trouble settling, rub a small amount onto their feet and legs, tuck them in with a blanket, and they’ll soon settle down.
A Home away from Home
It’s easy to ensure everything is germ-free when you arrive at your accommodation. Even if it looks clean, a few simple wipes of the door handles, toilet flush and toilet seat with tissue that has a drop of thyme and a drop of tea tree essential oil will remove any bacteria that may be lingering from the last visitors. Thyme, tea tree and lemongrass make a powerful bactericide, and few micro-organisms can escape their powerful effect.
Children can often feel insecure in unfamiliar places, and a few familiar essential oils will help to calm them. For example, if you use geranium as a general room fragrance at home, put a few drops of geranium on tissues and place them around the room. The familiarity of the scent will help children settle down for the night in the pleasantly fresh room that smells just like home!
Hopefully, you are wearing an organic and natural sun cream that protects without the toxic chemicals that can upset our delicate microbiomes. But sometimes, too much sun exposure can lead to sunburn.
As with all burns, it’s essential to get the heat out of the skin, so fill a sink or bath with cold water, add ice if you can, and immerse the burnt area as soon as possible. Then apply one-two neat drops of lavender essential oil (bear in mind two drops goes a long way, and you don’t need to overdo it), and cooling aloe vera if you have it to hand. Hopefully, by morning you will feel better, but spend a few days out of the sun while it heals properly.
Heat exhaustion and sunstroke can appear innocent, but whatever the circumstances, it’s important to get medical attention, especially to the young and elderly. Look out for a person who feels confused or disorientated, has a headache or fever, rapid heartbeat and a high temperature. They may even be feeling cold or shivering despite the heat.
Get the person out of the sun and into the cool. Attempt to cool them down in any way possible using cold water with a sponge, water spray, wet towels etc. The key areas to keep cool are the head, neck, armpits, wrists and groin. Peppermint oil is good to add to a cold compress. Once recovered they should drink plenty of liquids to rehydrate themselves.
Prickly heat is a rash of tiny blisters caused by blocked sweat glands and is extremely itchy. Keep the body as cool as possible. Use six drops each of chamomile roman, eucalyptus and lavender in a teaspoon of alcohol (vodka is fine) and it to a large cup of spring water, then add a splash to the area. Warm baths are very soothing if you add four drops each of lavender and eucalyptus oil.
To avoid getting an upset stomach on your travels, only drink bottled water, never have ice in drinks, and avoid all uncooked food. Lemon essential oil will help to purify the water you wash all fruits and vegetables in before peeling them.
If you are unfortunate enough to have a bout of diarrhoea, then dehydration is the main issue. Drink plenty of fluid to replace those lost. A warm bath with a few drops of geranium and ginger essential oil will help to calm the nerves and at the very least make you feel better.
Most of us are aware of the tiny little insects that can bite and cause severe irritation while enjoying adventures away from home. They can be found hiking in the mountains, taking Forest walks, lazing on the beach, or enjoying an evening drink outside.
Prevention is better than cure. As a general rule, lemongrass or citronella are good oils for keeping insects at bay. Carry a small plastic spray bottle with you and mix essentials oil with water to spray around the room. You can also fill any glasses or cups with hot water from the bathroom, add a couple of drops of essential oil, and place by the windows where unwanted visitors may get in.
According to one study, mosquitoes prefer people who wear dark clothing, so wear light-coloured clothing where they are gathering, and long sleeves and trousers seems sensible. Apparently, they are also attracted to the smell of beer, so if you sit at a table with beer drinkers you may be more likely to get bitten! As an evening deterrent, add a few drops of lavender or geranium oil to your usual moisturiser, or to a tablespoon of aloe vera, and apply to exposed areas.
If you have been bitten or stung and you have no idea what caused it, then apply a small amount of neat lavender to the area, followed by a small amount of neat chamomile roman. If the swelling is excessive as a result of an allergic reaction, seek medical attention.
Some plant species such as stinging nettles, poison ivy and so on, contain irritants, and even allergic reactions. Intense itching may be a problem, as well as areas of inflamed skin. Wash with soap and water as soon as you can, then apply eucalyptus, lavender or chamomile roman oil either undiluted, diluted in aloe vera, or on a compress. A cold compress with two drops of one of these essential oils will often stop the irritation within a few hours.
So, when packing your basic travel kit, you will need the following essential oils;
Peppermint or Ginger – for travel sickness, calming and soothing the nervous system, and peppermint is cooling.
Lavender – for anxious flyers, burns, prickly heat, and insect prevention/bites
Geranium – for anxious flyers, make a room smell familiar and calming
Chamomile roman – to settle children, prickly heat, inflamed skin and irritants
Thyme and tea tree – for a powerful anti-bacterial spray
Eucalyptus – for prickly heat, inflamed skin and irritants
Citronella - for insect repellent
Aloe Vera – calming and soothing irritated skin, and as a carrier oil to dilute essential oils
For those who want natural products without making up remedies with essential oils, Neals Yard remedies have the following products which are great for travel kits as well as first aid kits at home;
Stellaria cream – perfect for rashes, itches, allergies and eczema
Lavender and aloe cooling cream – useful for minor burns, prickly heat and cooling inflamed areas
Citronella formula – for keeping those insects at bay
Mini salve trio – Arnica salve (soothes and warms muscular aches and pains), Calming temple salve (for when those tension headaches strike), and Soothing skin salve (for dry and sensitive skin), all in handy handbag size tins.