Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Happy (and Healthy) Trails To You

So, I just returned from a wonderful trip with my family to Disney World (again)!  Yes, we also went in April...and decided to take our son again last week to celebrate his eighth birthday (on the 8th).  You see, it is sort of like we are making up for lost time.  Until this year we had never been on a family vacation.  We pretty much hardly left the house, due to my health challenges.  To say I was nervous before our trip in April would be an understatement.  We had taken a short trip a few months beforehand (over February break - my first time on a plane in five years) for a quick visit to Atlanta (to check out neighborhoods and houses for a possible move), and it threw me into feeling absolutely terrible.  I knew that I really had to build my toolkit to ensure a successful and symptom-free (or at least symptom-minimal) trip to Disney.  I didn't want to be stuck in my hotel room, sick, while my family was out having fun without me.  And this information is helpful for ANYONE, because who wants to get sick (or not feel your best) on a trip?!

This post is overflowing with info, products, and tips...which sort of makes up for the last 4-5 days I missed!

When I got so sick from my trip in February I immediately did what I always do...research!  I learned that when you fly your body prioritizes certain bodily functions to keep you alive, mainly pulmonary and cardiovascular (to prevent blood clots (DVT), etc.)  Being on an airplane is a stress on your body (you ever notice your squashed water bottle?), which puts you into a type of fight-or-flight.  This means that blood flow and circulation is diverted to the more crucial organs...leaving your digestion at a halt.  This leads me to my first tip:

1. In addition to not eating on the flight, try not to eat about two hours before and after flying, so nothing gets "stuck"/undigested, causing problems later.  Also, for those with very poor digestion, try blending all of the food you eat the day before flying (and day-of & day after).  This breaks down your food, making it more easily digestible, which gives your digestive organs a much needed break in preparation for the impact of flying. If you are on a very long flight, or you absolutely must eat to keep your blood sugar balanced, then opt for taking some protein powder with you to mix into your water bottle (I love these: Epic Protein & Sunwarrior - Warrior Blend - both come in individual packets, which are super handy for travel).

2. Speaking of water...hydration is KEY!  I can't stress that enough.  It is always important, but even more so when traveling.  A dehydrated system is an irritated, inflamed, overreactive, constipated, and anxious one!  Since you can't take liquids with you past airport security, once I am through that area I make a beeline for a place to buy water from.  I buy 1-2 of the largest bottles I can get (adjust depending on how long your flight is), and if I can I buy Smartwater, because it has added electrolytes.  I also carry my own Himalayan Salt with me to add if I need to.  (*NOTE: I typically avoid bottled water at all costs, but there are times it is necessary.)  Airlines only make the situation worse by handing out snacks that are drying by nature - chips, popcorn, pretzels.  Try to opt for things that have a little moisture in them if you are going to snack.

3. As I mentioned above, traveling is STRESSFUL (whether you feel it or not).  Flying not only dehydrates you, but it also irritates your nervous system.  In Ayurveda one of the "types" (Doshas) or qualities they talk about is "Vata."  Vata means air/wind and is characterized by dryness and anxiety (among many other things).  I fall mostly into this category.  And since "like increases like," airplane travel can intensify my preexisting imbalances.  Once I have my water I also add a few drops of Bach Rescue Remedy to keep myself relaxed (I use the Kids formula, because it is alcohol-free which is gentler on the system...and I can share it with my son if I need to).

My Carry-On Stash/"Fountain of Health"
Now on to my "Get On The Plane Ritual," which isn't for those who care what the people around them think!  ;-)

4. The first thing I do is get my Seventh Generation Wipes out (I pull out a bunch from my canister at home and put them in a Ziploc bag for my carry-on).  Then I thoroughly wipe down the arm rests, windows/shades, TV screens (if there are any), tray tables and clasp/lock, lights and vents, seatbelts/buckles, anything within reach that I am going to touch (or my family is going to touch).

5. Next I add more Thieves Oil to our collars to breathe in (you can keep refreshing it during the flight as needed), and I sanitize our hands with the Thieves Hand Purifier - which I also do after each bathroom use (in addition to washing hands, of course), etc.  (For later on your trip...continue to apply Thieves Oil to your collar daily to ward off germs wherever you roam.)

6. Then I take my little "Cloud of Protection" spray and spray it all around us/in our row.  You can also slip it in your pocket and spray it in the bathroom or any small/enclosed spaces where people have been spewing their germs.

7. To go along with the Rescue Remedy for calming and grounding (which I mentioned above) I take an oil (it can really be any oil...like even coconut or olive) and put it on my "Wind Gates" - bottoms of my feet, base of the back of my neck (that little indentation), and down the center line of my breastbone.  This helps to keep the dryness and wind from building out of control, which keeps stress and anxiety at bay.  Part of the problem with air travel is that you lose your sense of groundedness, so you have to do things that will be soothing...like deep breathing and meditating, too.  The oils I love to use for this are Banyan's "Vata Massage Oil" & Purple Prairie Botanicals "Peaceful Prairie Body Massage Oil."

8. Once I get where I am going I make sure I clear out my passages, because though you may be exposed to germs, the most important thing is moving them through so they don't sit in your nose/throat/etc. and take root.  I use my saline spray to irrigate and rehydrate my nose, and I add more eye drops (I use them before the flight, too) to rehydrate my eyes.  As a preventative, or at the slightest sign of a catch/sore spot in my throat, I use my "Sinus Blaster" spray, which is a special blend I get at a local natural foods store.  The closest formula I could find online is this one.  I also really like Barlean's "Olive Leaf Complex Spray," which is not only soothing but is also a great germ-killer! Gargling with hot water/drinking tea helps if that is all you can do as well.  It is all about avoiding stagnation!

9. I usually travel with a lot of homeopathic remedies, because they are gentle and seem to work for me.  I really like this "Yarrow Environmental Solution" by FES Flowers, because it helps with Electromagnetic Fields, radiation, and other exposures that are common during air travel.

10. Speaking of toxins and exposures I never leave home without my Activated Charcoal!  I take it each night while I am traveling to help with airborne toxin exposure, as well as anything I might eat that doesn't agree with me (must be taken 2-3 hours away from other medication/supplements).  I typically bring/prepare all of my own food wherever I go, but sometimes I have to eat something from a restaurant, and though I can usually get some veggies and chicken that have been cooked simply enough, they usually are not organic or have been prepared in a way (or are from a source) that is not as pure as I am used to.  Charcoal also helps with the airplane/airport radiation.  I also always have my DGL on hand in case of stomach upset...as well as continuing to take my extremely crucial probiotics!

Then the next phase is the process I go through once I reach my final destination.  The wipes and sprays come back out as I clean-up my hotel room!  You get the picture.  I also want to be sure to mention how important knowing acupressure points and yoga poses is.  They have both pulled me out of symptoms pretty quickly so I could move on and enjoy myself.  For example - these ear points help with ear pain/pressure from flying...for you or your child (they have also saved us from needing to go to the doctor for ear infections in the past).  I could go on and on, and I have a ton more tips, but this is a great foundation to start with.  I don't want to overwhelm people with too much information, but for immunocompromised people this is no joke.  If you could only do 1-2 of these things I would prioritize the water and Thieves Oil!  That alone will help so much (also not touching your eyes, picking your nose, etc. goes a long way)!  I am happy to report that on both trips we all stayed healthy so we could all be together, cover lots of ground, and enjoy ourselves to the max.  It is so empowering to have a plan and a toolkit to keep yourself well...and to know what to do when a health situation arises.  You can be your own little "Health MacGyver," and that ensures many more adventures ahead to partake in!

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