Stay Healthy on the Road with an Herbal Travel Kit

Traveling is one of the great adventures of life—new places, new people, new sights, smells and sounds. It’s at once stimulating and relaxing, thrilling and nerve-wracking. It can take us deep into nature or deep into the city, and can be done alone or with company, pets or children.

Travel manifests itself in many ways, but wherever the destination, travel can have a way of bringing up health concerns. Whatever the situation, there are herbal allies ready to help. This is a small list of the many wonderful herbal allies available to use when traveling.

Stress, tension and sleeplessness all respond well to lavender essential. This powerhouse can be useful for everything from general stress and sleeplessness to helping with insect bites and sunburns. Lavender essential oil also makes a great insect repellent and soothes all types of burns, including sunburn. Lavender essential oil is one that can be applied neat (undiluted) to unbroken skin, but please be aware that essential oils are highly concentrated and should be used with respect and responsibility.

Digestive upset is common with travel; it seems the two tend to go hand in hand. For general stomach upset, peppermint, chamomile and ginger are tasty and can often be found at local grocers and restaurants. Bitters also can help with an upset stomach and come in many forms from dandelion and burdock to leafy greens such as arugula.

Getting a cold or flu while traveling is no fun and traveling also exposes us to viruses we may not have at home. Echinacea tincture is wonderful to have on hand when feeling under the weather and can also be applied topically for oral irritation such as toothache or canker sores as well as for bug bites or skin infections. Tincture of lemon thyme in a spray bottle is also great to have on hand; it can be useful for supporting the body’s natural defenses against microbes and can be sprayed into the hands as a hand sanitizer.

Be sure to bring earplugs and an eye mask if you have trouble sleeping. And herbal allies such as chamomile and lemon balm are lovely for settling down for sleep. If these milder herbs aren’t doing the trick, more potent herbs such as passion flower or valerian may do the trick. Please note that for a small percentage of people, valerian can act as a stimulant like coffee and should not be used in conjunction with sedatives (alcohol, medication, etc).

Hannah Sparks is a practicing herbalist and herbal educator in West Newbury. She works one-on-one with clients at her home office and is available to teach classes on a wide variety of topics relating to using herbs. Sparks can also be found selling her hand-crafted, all-organic skin care and herbal teas at the Beverly Farmers’ Market and Salem Farmers’ Market, as well as online at

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