How to Stay Healthy While Traveling

Whenever I leave to travel I do my best to be prepared for the best and the worst . . .

Usually a positive attitude and open mind suffice for making the best possible. Unfortunately travel–and the toll it takes on me–also makes me susceptible to the occasional bug, virus, or ailment of one form or another.

So here is what I travel with to take care of myself:

Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap (portioned into 3 oz bottles to keep the TSA happy). If you travel and have never been introduced to the doc, it’s time. It is an organic, plant based soap which I use as: soap, shampoo, deodorant (about a dime size on the finger tip rubbed onto the armpit with a dash of water until the suds die down will last me through the entire day), toothpaste (it takes some getting used to), topical antibiotic, laundry soap, and general purpose cleaner.

Homemade coco butter lotion. Great for dry hands, feet, and lips without any of the chemicals I try to avoid putting onto my body.

Tweezers. Splinters suck.

Nail clippers.

Condoms (let’s not be prudish around here. Sex is awesome. Safe sex is awesomer).

Beeswax. I’m not going to make bold claims about this stuff, I’ll leave that up to the rest of the internet. But I will tell you about a personal experience. Summer 2013 I was traveling across Montana in a bus full of hippies. At one point I stepped on a hot coal while walking barefoot around a fire (yeah, I know). By the time I sat down and rinsed it off the burn had already blistered and broken. My friend grabbed a hunk of beeswax, melted it onto the burn, wrapped my foot in a bandana and told me to leave it on for a couple of days. A day and a half later I took it off and there wasn’t even a scar. Now I wouldn’t be able to tell you where the burn was if you asked me.

Blackstrap molasses. Sugarcane has many minerals in it. Sugar, however, does not. That is because when they process sugarcane into the pretty little crystals you buy at the store one byproduct is blackstrap molasses, where a lot of the minerals go. Blackstrap will give you heavy doses of potassium, calcium, and iron plus it has many other trace minerals. It’s a great supplement for those who travel without a lot of money and can’t always eat as healthy as they’d like. I take about a table spoon shot in the morning, let it sit in my mouth for a little while (so my teeth can absorb all those nice minerals) then swallow it with the help of some water. It’ll give you a little boost of energy, plus I find it to be a mild laxative, so a nice way to get thing moving in the morning.

Garlic. A single clove of raw garlic, crushed and eaten will keep you healthy, and single. I once had a terrible gum infection that two weeks of antibiotics didn’t stop, but two and half days of garlic did. Really powerful stuff for your body if eaten routinely. Known to help the immune system, reduce blood pressure, regulates cholesterol, contain antioxidants, detoxify from heavy metals, act as an anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-microbial probiotic that promotes positive bacteria while targeting the negative, all while also being thought to contain anti-cancer properties. I highly recommend to eat it with something in your stomach.

Licorice Root. This root can be found in many teas for sore throats because of it’s soothing properties. It helps ease pain in the throat, and acts as an anti-bacterial and anti-viral, helping out on those days when you’re feeling hoarse and on the verge of catching something. I also utilize the whole root as a toothbrush.

Osha Root. This root is a very powerful, deep respiratory healer. Works great for reaching past where licorice does and cleaning out the lungs. Also, Osha is a badass. Nobody has ever found out how to domesticate it (screw The Man) and it looks almost identical to poison hemlock. Nicknamed bear root because bears will seek it out after hibernation, it takes a lot of work for Osha to make it into your life so don’t forget to respect it and give it some thanks when it’s around.

Echinacea. Known as a good, all around immune system booster. It can also be eaten raw to numb your mouth. Fun trick and can help you to get down some more difficult herbal or western medicines, just be sure to be knowledgeable of potential interactions when taking multiple medicines at the same time.

Tea tree essential oil. It’ll help get rid of a lot of bacteria and viruses depending on where and how you use it. Inhaling can fight off the cold or flu. Used topically (many warn against using it pure, check other resources about dilution) can keep away infections, and similarly used as a mouthwash to keep your mouth clean and gums healthy (do not ingest tea tree oil).

Peppermint essential oil. Peppermint is one of my herbal crushes. It’s an all around good herb to have on your side. It acts in a lot of the same ways as tea tree, plus it smells great. Used as a mouthwash will give you minty breath and maybe cover up all of that garlic you’ve been eating.

Ginger. I don’t always bring this with me, but it is a really amazing digestive aid when you come across something you and your stomach might not agree about. Dandelion root is another good way to regulate digestion while traveling. Both can be drunk as a tea before, during, or after a meal to get your stomach kicked into overdrive.

Water. There are cultures that believe water was the first medicine given to humans. Since we’re made up of so much of the stuff it makes sense to me. It you are feeling lousy, sluggish, irritable, have a headache, or bad in general, drink water. Lots of it. Do your best to find fresh, pure water. Spring water, naturally filter by the earth is the best, but be sure to acknowledge this gift from Mother Earth when you receive it if you are privileged enough to.

I also have a small amount of bandages, gauze, and other general first aid supplies for situations when herbs won’t do the trick (i.e. when your friend drops a knife onto their foot).

This is how I generally stay healthy while traveling. Each item is a part of my repertoire because it has withstood the test of traveling and my body has positively reacted to it. While these things work for me at this point in my life I am saying all of this as a healthy individual with no illnesses, chronic or otherwise. That is why I encourage each of you to take the time to find out what keeps you healthy and thriving on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level. I invite you to try my suggestions and if they don’t work that’s ok, it means you have the opportunity to find out what does work for you. Good luck.


M. A. Chavez

Is co-founder of Vagrant. Anonymous. He spends his time split between traveling and the North West. He is currently working on getting his debut novel published, and writing his second.

       How do you stay healthy while traveling?

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