I get asked a lot, especially every summer, what are the best herbs to take along on a trip? People are getting ready for their family vacations and epic road trips. And they're like, "Alright, what do I take with me?"
In the world of herbalism, it's really easy to over pack and bring the kitchen sink of herbs with you. When I first started out, I would bring bags of herbal kits with me and bags of tinctures. As the years have gone on, I don't like to pack that much anymore.
I've learned to simplify it down into the top five remedies that I need for a trip. And that can really depend on a lot of different factors:
Where you're going,
What you're doing,
Who you're traveling with,
What issues you tend to have on the road.
Herbs for Digestive Support
I know for myself, I have a lot of food sensitivities. Even though I try to eat clean when I'm traveling, I almost always have a little bit of digestive bloating. So I tend to bring fennel tincture with me pretty much everywhere I go.
For other digestive aids, I sometimes bring activated charcoal, especially if you're going someplace with water that you might not necessarily be safe to drink. Activated charcoal helps bind to things in your gut and pulls toxins out. So if you tend towards diarrhea or Giardia or any of those other difficult digestive issues, activated charcoal is a must have.
And then in general, I can find Mint, Ginger or Chamomile tea almost anywhere across the country now. Even though I used to always pack them, nowadays I don't because
almost every hotel has Mint and Chamomile and that's my basic go-to for a lot of digestive issues.
First Aid Herbs
Herbal first aid remedies are so helpful for traveling. Especially if you're going to be doing a lot of epic adventuring where you could have some cuts and scrapes, gnarly bruises or sunburns.
I like to bring Echinacea and Oregon Grape Root capsules with me, those are great for infections and wounds. I can open it up, put it in some water, and stick a swollen and inflamed finger or toe in it.
I always like to bring some sort of salve or oil, usually with Plantain, Comfrey or Calendula. You might be able to wash out the wound real quick, but then accelerating healing over your trip is always a huge bonus. I like Calendula oil because it's very versatile, as well as Comfrey. Both of those can be used on wounds and sunburns.
And then I like to have something to help clean out a wound or stop bleeding. So those are called styptic herbs. Yarrow’s a great styptic as are Oak Galls. And with Oak Galls, I don't pack them with me if I'm traveling through an Oak Woodland forest.
You can find Shepherd's purse as a wild weed all over just depending on the time of year that you're going. In the summertime, those weeds are usually kind of done. So I'll usually bring a styptic tincture to promote wound healing and wash wounds with me just so I have something on hand.
A lot of times, I also bring Crampbark. Especially for anyone who menstruates out there, Crampbark is a great antispasmodic tincture. I love having something to help with bloating and gas as well as menstrual cramps or just the general internal aches and pains.
Personalize Your Kit for Your Trip
The rest of my kit just depends on what's going on. I know during the age of COVID, I've been bringing a few cold care herbs with me no matter what. Sometimes I'll just use my Mint or my Ginger if I start feeling something. Sometimes I'll bring some essential oils as a sinus steam. Maybe some sore throat lozenges.
And then I like to bring things that help deal with stressful moments on my vacation. I love traveling with my honey. I love traveling with my family, but sometimes we have this thing called stress that comes up.
I like to bring calming nervine herbs with me to chill out through the moments that the family tensions can arise. So whatever it is that you deal with on your vacation, it's okay to plan ahead a little bit and think about what your top five issues that you might have to deal with on this trip?
What About Travel Regulations?
My advice is to try and limit everything as much as you can into a small purse or bag. And especially if you're going on airplanes, it's really important to make sure that you read the new flight regulation laws about how much liquids and powders you can bring so that your entire herbal first aid kit doesn't get confiscated on the way through the TSA.
I've had that happen multiple times and I've learned over the years one ounce or smaller is typically okay. And some countries have regulations for how many things you can bring
or how many liquid based items can fit into one specific size bag. So you need to make sure that you read up on your travel guidelines when you pack your kit.
Also, if you are traveling a long distance, it's important to make sure that you're packing for what's going to survive either a car ride or an airplane ride. I double bag things a lot and sometimes I don't even bring liquids if I'm worried they might spill in my bag and ruin my clothes. In that case, I'd only bring powders, capsules or tea bags that are pre-made.
So it's useful to think through what kind of circumstances you're going to be traveling in and how to best store your first aid kit, and then you'll be good to go.
Herbal First Aid Class
If you're interested in learning how to make your own personalized herbal kit to use for trips and everything else, Artemisia Academy now offers an Herbal First Aid Workshop!! This used to be a class we offered all the time in person, and now we're super excited to be offering it virtually so that more people can access it.
And we'll be sharing more fun herbal information for you to incorporate into your summer adventures soon, so stay tuned. And in the meantime, have a great week and a great summer and thanks for reading.