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Whether you are traveling, hosting guests, or taking a vacation or staycation, most of us experience some disruption to our daily routines during the holidays. It is quite normal for one’s wellness routines to become altered during these busy and festive times. However, in order to keep your balance and optimize your ability to enjoy the holiday festivities, taking time to return to yourself—and care for yourself—is important. Taking your wellness routines on the go requires flexibility and a bit of planning, but it’s worth that little bit of extra effort. Let’s take a look at some ideas for how to adapt your wellness routines for travel and particularly busy times.

Prioritize Your Wellness Routines

When there is a disruption in your day-to-day routine, prioritization becomes especially important. It’s normal for one’s diet, herbal routines, and movement practices to undergo changes during the holidays, travel, and particularly busy times. So, it may be helpful to take a moment and first assess what your foundational wellness routines are. Is there a particular herbal protocol that is especially important for you to maintain? Do you benefit from sleep support, digestive support, and/or adaptogens? Are you someone who needs quiet time every day? Do you require hot food and hot beverages? Do you thrive when you move your body for a significant amount of time every day? Is daily journaling important to you? What helps you stay happy, healthy, and sane? Think about your cornerstone practices and plan from there.

To offer one idea, as a yoga practitioner and yoga teacher, my daily yoga practice is incredibly important to me. Obviously, I can’t take an entire yoga studio and all of my yoga props and books with me on the go. However, I can pack a thin travel mat, a yoga belt, and typically a couple of foam blocks. Also, I can get creative with the spaces I visit, clearing away at least a small space for practice, and perhaps even making use of the furniture on hand as useful yoga props.

Now let’s take a more detailed look at what you might include in your wellness routine packing list.

Balancing Mobility with Stability

Travel and disruption to daily routines tend to increase vata dosha, which is mobile by nature. (An increase in external mobility increases the mobile, changeable energies within the body.) Therefore, especially for vata types and during the vata time of year, taking measures to pacify vata dosha becomes important. This is especially true if there is travel involved. Vata dosha is pacified through warmth, oil, and regular routine. With this in mind, here are some ideas on helpful items to take with you on the go. These tips will be helpful for everyone, regardless of constitutional type.

Stay Warm From the Inside Out

Focusing on warm, cooked foods and hot beverages is a good idea during winter. You may want to consider where you will be staying and what resources will be available to you. If you are staying in someone’s home while traveling, having access to a full kitchen will of course make sticking to your food and herbal wellness routines easier. Even an electric kettle and/or a stove top is a big help. In this case, you may want to search ahead of time for nearby natural foods stores, minimizing the items you need to pack.

If you are staying in a hotel or somewhere without a full kitchen, you may want to consider packing tea bags and instant soup or porridge mixes. Though not ideal, you can heat up water in a microwave to use for tea and instant mixes. Or, you can get hot water from the hotel kitchen or food bar. I like to add a few packets of instant miso soup to my travel bag when I am on the go. Many instant miso soup mixes contain seaweed, tofu, and even mushrooms, making a nourishing, replenishing snack that imparts a warming energy, as well as important minerals and essential amino acids.

In addition, warming spices help bring balance during colder months. Furthermore, many tasty, warming spices such as ginger (Zingiber officinale), cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.), cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), and black pepper (Piper nigrum) boost digestion and offer antimicrobial benefits, making these spices a win-win for winter.

Clients often ask me what to do if they can’t find optimal food choices away from home. One tip I suggest is bringing a couple of spice mixes on the go. You may not always be able to control which foods land on your plate, but you can properly spice them up. A pumpkin pie spice blend, a warming fall favorite, makes a delicious and wise choice during both fall and winter. You can check out more ideas for DIY spice blends in the Herbal Academy article Ayurvedic Holiday Gift Guide. Of course, purchasing a store-bought curry mix or pumpkin pie spice blend is always an option as well. Make your own blend ahead of time with whole or powdered spices and add a small spice shaker to your suitcase or travel bag. Adding a touch of spice to porridges, tea, warmed milk, and even savory dishes such as roasted vegetables will keep your gut happy, help your blood get moving, and offers a cozy feeling away from home.

The Balancing Effects of Oil

Maintaining a daily abhyanga practice, or self massage with oil, is one way to calm the dry, mobile nature of vata dosha. This is a routine that you can cultivate and maintain at home and on the go. You can visit an ayurvedic clinic or spa to receive abhyanga from a trained practitioner, or, abhyanga can be the simple practice of self-massage with oil. You can read more about abhyanga and other daily self-care routines in the Herbal Academy post 5 Daily Self-Care Practices to Implement This Year.

When it comes to the type of oil for abhyanga, plain untoasted sesame oil is a good choice for winter as it is rich, warming, and especially balancing for vata dosha. Also, if you are traveling, you can easily pick up a small bottle of (untoasted!) sesame oil from the grocery store. This is a convenient and inexpensive option, plus sesame oil doubles as a nice drizzling or low-temperature cooking oil.

Or, go with an herbal-infused massage oil to receive the extra benefits of herbal allies. You can make your own herbal massage oil. Here is one recipe that is especially good for fall and early winter: Vata Massage Oil Recipe. If you are anticipating a busy holiday season, you may want to set aside an afternoon to prepare some special herbal-infused oil prior to the height of the seasonal hustle-bustle. If you make a large batch, your handmade herbal massage oil can double as a gift for loved ones and a self-care treat for you!

Maintaining Routine: Timing is Everything

In working with clients in my Ayurveda practice over the past several years, I have observed that staying regular with wellness routines is a big challenge for many people. Choosing a regular time for each activity is helpful for developing and maintaining routines. This can be particularly challenging if your schedule has become erratic or jam-packed or if you are dealing with time zone shifts.

However, the more that you can create anchors in your day, or as one of my Ayurveda teachers calls it, “islands of serenity,” the better chance you have of developing and maintaining nourishing practices.

Sticking to a routine could mean setting a timer, leaving yourself a sticky note, or getting help from a family member or friend–think an exercise or meditation buddy–to hold you accountable. Also, if you can associate the routine with something positive, such as listening to your favorite podcast while you chop vegetables, you will be more likely to be willing to repeat it.

Herbal Wellness Routines on the Go: Herbal Preparations

You may have daily herbal routines that are important to your health and wellbeing. When schedules become full or turned upside down, you will probably want to think about the best way to maintain those routines. If you are traveling away from home, you may need to be strategic in choosing your herbal preparation. Also, as noted above, consider tips for timing and maintaining consistency.

If you don’t have a regular herbal routine and you have big holiday plans or travel plans, you may want to consider your areas of vulnerability. Are you susceptible to cold viruses when you travel or are stressed? Is it particularly challenging for you to sleep when away from home or to adjust to different time zones? How do your digestion and elimination fare when you are away from home or when there is a change in your daily habits? Being aware of how you tend to go out of balance will help you to determine the essentials to bring with you.

Once you have determined what kinds of herbs you need, the next factor to consider is how to take them. The type of herbal preparation you choose will make a difference in terms of what is suitable for days or weeks spent away from home. For instance, herbal-infused ghee may be more troublesome to pack than capsules or tinctures. Though loose powders, decoctions, and herbal oils are wonderful ways in which to enjoy herbs, you may want to switch to easy-to-carry herbal preparations such as capsules, tinctures, and gummies—at least while you are on the go.

This is also where a little research comes in handy. For instance, if you are traveling to a place where there is a well-stocked natural foods store or herbal shop, you may be able to pick up what you need once you are there. Ironically, I once caught myself trying to pack all kinds of ayurvedic herbs for a trip to India…until I realized I was traveling to the home of Ayurveda! Not only was I able to visit ayurvedic clinics and shops, but I could also get what I needed, and then some, while in India. That said, if there are certain formulas or single herbs that are critical for you—such as formulas to assist with sleep and digestion—you may want to have those on hand and then purchase any others once you have settled in your new locale.

In Closing,

You don’t need to hop on an airplane in order to think about having some key wellness items with you while on the go. In addition to the items already mentioned in this article, small packable items such as nervine tinctures for stressful moments, immune supports such as these DIY immune stimulating elderberry gummies, refreshing or calming essential oils or hydrosols, or moisturizing balm for dry skin and chapped lips are wonderful supports to keep on hand during busy times. Whether holiday plans have you staying close to home or traveling far and wide, be sure to think about what you need to stay healthy and balanced throughout busy and changeable times.


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