Travel can be a fun and enriching experience but it can also be a stressor on one's body. To combat some minor ailments that may plague a traveler here are my top 5 natural remedies for travelers.
1. Probiotics Whenever I plan a trip to travel internationally, especially to developing countries, I make sure to up my probiotics game. This generally entails me taking the probiotics at least two weeks prior to, for the duration of the trip, and for two weeks upon my return. Following this routine builds up the good microbes in my intestinal track and can ward off traveler’s diarrhea and other forms of upset stomach. It can also help to keep you regular when dealing with the stress of travel such as the time zone changes, changes in eating habits and schedules, and generally being out of a routine.
2. Propolis - This is a mixture that honey bees make which is used to seal unwanted open spaces in the hive. For humans this potent mixture is thought to have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Whenever I start to feel a tickle in my throat, which for me is thesign of a cold coming on, I pump two sprays of this stuff on the back of my throat a few times a day. I can usually prevent my cold from getting worse and I am feeling like myself again within 2 days. The key is to take it early an often.
3. Herbal tea - Drinking a warm cup of tea is a great way to relax on a flight, calm oneself down before bed, or settle an upset stomach. Peppermint, chamomile, green, Echinacea, and smooth move are the ones that I suggest traveling with.
4. Activated charcoal - This is a good go-to remedy for food poisoning and stomach bugs as it absorbs most organic toxins and chemicals before they can enter the body. Which is exactly what you want to do if you accidentally ate some bad food. As a bonus, you can also use it to brush your teeth as it is a natural teeth whitener.
5. Ginger chews - Ginger is known as a great anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory herb. It is also great for treating nausea, helping with digestion and easing congestions. These candies taste good and are perfectly packaged for travel.
6. Oregano oil - Like many of the other items listed, oil of oregano is known for it’s anti-bacterial properties. You can use this not so great tasting oil to treat gastrointestinal or respiratory issues. If the taste is too strong to handle you can always dilute in a carrier oil such as coconut oil. If you mix a few drops with water and put into a spray bottle you have a natural insect repellent.
Last year, somewhat on a whim, I went on my first safari in Tanzania. As part of that trip we visited Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and of course the Serengeti. Being a city girl I was a bit apprehensive about spending any amount of time in the bush, however that soon changed as we approached our lodge and had our first animal sighting which was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had while traveling. That trip was so life changing that I'm planning my second safari and depart to South Africa next week. This time we will explore the Madikwe game reserve. If you plan on going on a safari in the future here's my take on the ultimate safari packing list.
1. Binoculars - You'll want to invest in a decent pair of binoculars for your trip if you don’t have a pair already. You don’t want to spend all that money traveling to your safari only to be unable to get a good view of the animals. My glass of choice is the Zeiss Terra ED 8X32.
2. Camera - While your phone camera could do the trick, you may want to bring a slightly more powerful camera with a zoom lens to really capture the animals in their natural element. I'm currently enjoying my Nikon J5 mirrorless digital camera due to the sleek, lightweight body.
3. Flashlight - What I learned on my last safari is that it wasn't safe to leave our room at night without a "security" escort. These escorts kindly walked us from our room to dinner and back to ensure we we're eaten by lions. The only weapons our Maasai escorts had were a spear and a bright flashlight which supposedly kept the big predators away. Once I learned about this I started carrying my flashlight with me each night. It also came in handy at one lodge that was dimly lit due to solar power and another that shut off the power in the evening at a certain time which would have made using the bathroom a bit of a challenge without it. If you don't have one already you can find a pretty good option here.
4. Comfortable Shoes - On safari you'll spend quite a bit of time in a jeep during your game drives. You'll want to be as comfortable as possible so you can enjoy all of the wonders that mother nature has to offer. Besides game drives there are also walking safaris in which case comfortable shoes are even more important. You can bring sneakers or hiking shoes but my safari shoe of choice is the Merrell Ashland Chukka. These shoes are so stylish and comfortable that started wearing them regularly after my safari. Another thing I like about these shoes is that they cover my ankles, a small deterrent for any potential critters.
5. Lightweight Light Colored Clothing - During your game drives or walking safari you'll want to blend in with your surroundings so as to not scare the animals away, Leave your bright colored frocks at home or at least wear them to dinner at the lodge. Also, if charter flights are involved on your safari they'll be regulations on size and weight of your bags. Most lodges offer laundry services at a decent price to help with this challenge. I really like the Columbia Sportswear Women's Saturday Trail Pant as the come in various inseams and they don't have those hideous giant side pockets that come down to your thigh.
6. First Aid Kit - You should take a first aid kit with you on all of your trips and it should be a part of your every day carry when out and about. While your safari ranger may keep a first aid kit in the jeep it doesn't hurt you’ll want to be sure that you carry any specific medications that you require with you at all times. If you want ideas on what to include in your first aid kit check out this blog post.
7. Sunglasses - You should protect your eyes from the sun at all times. However, on a safari eye protection is even more important as game reserves can be pretty dusty as you drive around searching for your next sighting. As such you'll want to avoid getting this dust in your eyes.
Ray-Ban Aviators are a classic option if you're in the market for a new pair.[Sidebar: if you wear contact lenses, you will want wear your glasses during game drives to avoid eye irritation.]
8. Hat - As the mid day sun can be quite intense in the bush a good hat with a strap is a must. If you're a Curious George fan and want to look like a relic from the British Colonial period you can opt for a Pith Helmet otherwise a slightly more practical option is this classic safari hat by Tilley.
9. Bug Spray - Mosquito bites are never fun and they are even less fun when you're in a malaria zone. One way to protect yourself from bites (besides sleeping under a mosquito net and covering up especially during dusk and dawn) is to buy a good mosquito repellent. For years the recommended repellent was 30% DEET however, new guidance from the CDC says that lemon eucalyptus oil can be just as effective at repelling mosquitos and it's all natural. I first discovered Repel’s Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent Spray prior to my trip to Thailand and have been using it ever since.
10. Sunscreen - Who wants to ruin their vacation by getting sunburned on the first day? I'm pretty sure the answer to that question is no one. I usually travel with Neutrogena's Ultra Sheer Sunscreen Stick in SPF 70 as it offers a high SPF and thanks to its stick format application is a breeze.
11. Field Guide Book - To better understand all of the wildlife that you encounter on safari it's nice to have a small field guide book to cross reference during your game drives. I have the Wild Lives Field Guide to Africa and it not only covers the big five but it also many of the lesser know creatures and beautiful birds you might encounter.
If you also need some guidance on what to pack for a long haul flight be sure to check out my blog post covering that topic.
1.Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones//2. Kate Spade Classic Nylon Maia Travel Wallet //3.Henri Bendel Jetsetter Convertible Backpack // 4.White + Warren Cashmere Travel Wrap // 5. Bedtime Bliss Sleep Mask // 6. Sockwell Women's Compression Socks // 7. 1byeOne 10,000 mAh 2-Port Portable Charger // 8. Nikon 1 J5 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Silver) // 9. iPad // 10. Poweradd International Travel Charger // 11. J-pillow Travel Pillow
As I travel relatively often one of the best things that I did was enroll for Global Entry. Prior to enrolling for the program I would have to wait in the long customs and immigration line and when it was finally my turn to see an agent I was always asked 101 questions regarding the nature of my travels etc. One guy actually said to me "you sure travel a lot" and my response was something like "yep" but I really wanted to say something along the lines of "well that's why I have a passport" but thought wiser of it. When I learned about Global Entry I signed up immediately and I haven't looked back. Luckily at the time I had a credit card that reimbursed me for the $100 application fee.
What is Global Entry?
Global Entry is a program that offers expedited pre-clearance for approved travelers entering the US. Global Entry is currently available to US citizens and permanent residents and has been expanded to include citizens of the following countries:
To apply one creates an account on the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) fills and then fill out an online application and pay the $100 fee. You will receive an email if the application is approved and then you will be invited to schedule an appointment at one of the Global Entry Enrollment Centers. My interview was relatively quick and painless and if you schedule it on the same day that you leave for an international trip, you can use the Global Entry Kiosks when you return. The membership lasts for five years and if your passport expires within that time frame you can update your passport information via GOES. Another benefit to Global Entry membership is that it automatically enrolls you in TSA PreCheck.
What is TSA PreCheck?
TSA PreCheck allows you to breeze through airport security without having to remove your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jacket. Like Global Entry it is valid for 5 years and it only costs $85. I would caution that TSA PreCheck is not available with all airlines and all airports. So if most of your trips are international in nature you may not be able to benefit as much from TSA PreCheck so be sure to check the list of Airports & Airlines before signing up.
So you've booked your dream vacation and you're counting down the days until take off. Now what? Here are the top 5 things you should do prior to take-off.
1. Travel Insurance/Trip Cancellation Insurance
If you booked your trip through a travel consultant like myself, he or she probably told you about the importance of purchasing a travel insurance/cancellation policy for peace of mind. If you're traveling domestically and already have a health insurance policy you're mostly in the clear. However, if you're traveling abroad, it makes sense to take out an insurance policy as the quality of medical care and facilities abroad can vary and they sometimes won't treat you unless you can prove that you can pay for their services. With travel insurance, you'll have that peace of mind.
On the other hand, if you've invested a substantial sum of money on your trip you may want to take out a trip cancellation policy in case of unplanned scenarios prior to your vacation. If you break a leg, or worse, prior to your departure date you may be able to recoup all or some of your trip expenses should you need to cancel. Coverage and policies vary so it’s best to do your research or talk with your online travel professional.
2. Visa Requirements
If traveling internationally it is important to check the visa requirements for the country that you are visiting on the US Department of State website.
A lot of countries have agreements with the US that don't require you to obtain a visa but there are many that do. Some visas can be obtained on arrival at the country you are visiting but unfortunately some require additional planning and must be acquired prior to boarding a plane. If you work with a skilled travel professional they can help guide you through this process.
3. Get Vaccinated
Again, if you're traveling internationally, it's important to confirm which vaccinations are necessary for the country you're visiting. To find out more information on vaccine requirements you can check out the CDC website.
Careful planning is necessary when getting vaccines as certain injections need to be completed at least 30 days prior to travel, if not longer. A lot of people skip this step however it is important if you want to remain healthy while traveling abroad. The good news about vaccinations is that once you are vaccinated from certain illnesses you won't require the vaccination again for your next trip. Most vaccinations last anywhere from 5 to 10 years and some offer lifetime protection.
4. Check for Travel Alerts and Warnings
Before traveling internationally it's also a good idea to check The Department of Homeland Security website prior to leaving. The website provides helpful information on short term travel alerts in the country or region that you may be visiting. The site also provides longer-term travel warnings for the places that you may simply want to avoid to remain safe.
If you are traveling for an extended period of time it is also a good idea to register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program with the US Department of State. This program registers you with the nearest US embassy or consulate and notifies you of any safety or security information in your destination.
5. Call Your Financial Institutions/Confirm Fees
To ensure that you have access to cash and your credit cards abroad it's important to inform your financial institutions when you will be traveling. Otherwise you could be in for an unpleasant surprise when you try to use your credit cards abroad. Trust me, I speak from firsthand experience!! I called my credit card company before traveling but didn't inform them of all the cities that I'd be visiting during my trip and my credit card was denied during my layover at the Dubai Airport. It is a best practice to include all countries you will be stopping in, including layovers. Another best practice is to include a day or two buffer after your return date to account for any cancelled or missed flights.
Bonus tip: Get a second checking account! This tip applies especially if you're traveling solo or with friends and not necessarily with a significant other that you share accounts with. For my trip to Thailand I opened a separate checking account to avoid paying fees when taking out money. While shopping at one of the many malls in Bangkok I stopped to take out some money and unlike the ATMs that I was used to back home the machine held on to my card during the entire transaction. After the machine dispensed my money I walked away happy to have avoided paying surcharges. That happiness what short lived when I realized upon arrive on Koh Samui that my debit card was back on the mainland. Thankfully, I had the debit card from my regular bank so I still had access to liquid currency while traveling and all hope wasn't lost.