Traveling with Ayurveda: Taking Your Routine on the Go
I love to travel. I have been to India numerous times, visit Japan often, and have seen many other parts of the world. Every time I visit a new place I learn something about myself from the experience. It brings me such joy to see the world through new perspectives and appreciate how others approach life.
I traveled quite frequently in the years before I began practicing Ayurveda. Back then, I regularly returned home feeling more depleted than when I left. It took me quite a while to recover from the feelings of dryness, disrupted digestion, spaciness, and fatigue. After devoting my life to the practices of Ayurveda and Yoga, I learned that traveling is much more enjoyable when I bring my vata-balancing lifestyle with me.
If we make vata dosha our friend, it can serve us to function well in life and access the subtle realms of being.
The movement that comes from any form of high-speed travel, especially airplanes, increases the air element. Daily routines are often left behind, resulting in irregularity in mind and body. Sleep is often disrupted with time changes and meals, and weather can be unpredictable. But your love for travel doesn’t have to mean dealing with symptoms of imbalanced vata dosha.
Prepare for Your Trip
Make room in your luggage to pack a few things that will keep you feeling more comfortable. For instance, I like to bring a shawl that I use for meditation back home. This brings a familiar sense of peace when I meditate in my hotel room each morning. I also bring a travel yoga mat and herbs, especially Triphala and Immune Strong tablets to aid my digestion and support ojas. I bring abhyanga oil that is suitable for my vikriti (current state of balance) and the time of year, as well as plain Sesame Oil.
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One item that always makes it into my luggage is a three-cup rice cooker. With it, I bring ghee, basmati rice, yellow mung dal, mineral salt, and a handful of spices. I like to cook as many meals as possible in my hotel room, and this is all I really need to make a simple and nourishing dinner. Buy local vegetables upon your arrival and toss them on top to steam. You’ll be surprised how creative you can get with just these basic ingredients.
Abhyanga is one of the last things I do before I leave the house.
I cook simple food for the plane rather than relying on the meals the airline provides (nothing with too much liquid, a mixture of split mung and rice or a few dosas is great). I also like to pack a rehydration drink (a combination of honey, fresh lime juice, and a pinch of mineral salt) in several three-ounce containers to bring in my carry-on bag.
During the flight, I oil my ears with sesame oil, use nasya oil in my nose, and use castor oil in my eyes. For the longer flights, I take a small container of Beauty Balm to put on my face. These practices counter the dehydrating effect of airplane travel, and I find them deeply nourishing during a long flight.
One of the most helpful practices to make your trip better is adjusting your body to the new time zone. Shift your sleeping and eating schedule as soon as you arrive at the airport for departure. If you will reach your destination in the evening, avoid sleeping on the plane so you can go right to sleep on your new schedule. Sleep is so important in maintaining ojas, and giving your body a smooth transition to a new routine will make your trip much more enjoyable.
For herbal support, you can also take I Travel Well liquid extract, which was specifically formulated to help the body adapt to the uprising of vata that comes with travel. It is loaded with Ayurvedic adaptogens to help your body adapt to stress and adjust to your new locale.
When You Arrive
As soon as you arrive, find a moment of calm and connection to ground yourself in the new location. When you reach your hotel room, do abhyanga again and sit for a short meditation.
Throughout your trip, keep your dinacharya (daily routine) as close as possible to your home routine. Make time in the morning for meditation, pranayama, and a bit of asana (daily abhyanga is also a wonderful practice to keep vata grounded while traveling). Eat at regular times as much as possible, and go to sleep and wake up at consistent times.
Remember to get out and enjoy yourself! Take walks to acquaint yourself with your new surroundings. Talk to locals and find out which restaurants have the freshest food or to locate the best markets. If you’re in a city, find a park or a little bit of nature that will allow you to remember your connection to the rhythms of life.
Beyond all of these tips, look for ways to bring balance and peace into your life to get the most out of your vacation. The more you point yourself toward sattva in the activities you choose and how you structure your day, the more you will experience the joy of discovering a new place and its people.