Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are heading into summer. Summer usually involves more travel, whether this is day trips to the beach or more lengthy vacations, it is always a good idea to pack a first aid kit. If I am limited to what I can carry with me, I will always make sure to bring lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). Both these essential oils are very versatile and will do in a pinch. But a more specific travel kit is a better option if you have room in your luggage or beach bag.
Two things the pandemic has taught us are how quickly viruses can spread and that high-touch surfaces are breeding grounds for germs. Please note that the recipes in this blog post are not intended to prevent or treat COVID. But many essential oils and essential oil blends can help us stay healthy while we are away from home. This doesn’t need to be complicated. For example, when I am flying, I will put a couple of drops of tea tree on a tissue and wipe armrests, the table tray, and other areas I may touch while in the air. And while we are on the topic of flying, lavender in a nasal inhaler can be helpful for nervous travellers or if you want to sleep during the flight.
An aromatherapy travel kit can help with more specific needs while away from home. Here are some suggestions for common issues that can occur.
A note on drop counts
When it comes to essential oils, not all drop sizes are equal. Essential oils have different viscosities (thicknesses). Some essential oils, such as the citrus oils, are quite thin, and others such as benzoin are quite thick while some fall between the two. When we offer recipes, we have taken drop size into account and done the math for you.
We often eat differently while traveling, which can lead to digestive issues. Essential oils that can be helpful are black pepper (Piper nigrum), sweet fennel (Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce), ginger (Zingiber officinale), sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), and peppermint (Mentha x piperita).
General digestive complaints: for issues such as constipation, heartburn, or flatulence, topical application tends to be more effective. Add a 5 ml digestion blend to your travel kit, using a combination of some of the essential oils listed above for digestive complaints. Make sure to dilute essential oils that will be applied to the skin. Essential oils are most commonly diluted in a carrier oil such as grapeseed or sweet almond oil. Essential oils are very powerful and therefore very little is needed in a blend.
For example, in a 5 ml essential oil bottle with an orifice reducer, you can blend the following for digestive issues:
This is a strong blend so only 2–3 drops per application are needed. Apply to the abdomen in a clockwise motion. Please see safety guidelines below.
Nausea or motion sickness: nasal inhalers can be effective, discreet, and compact (see how to make a nasal inhaler, below). I like a combination of 6 drops of peppermint and 6 drops of ginger.
Increased activity, sleeping in a strange bed, and the stress of rushing from one place to the next can cause us to experience pain. The last thing we need while on vacation is to be laid up because we can’t keep up! Some essential oils have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic actions and can work very quickly to help relieve pain. In fact, some of the essential oils suggested for pain are the same as those for digestive issues. If you are new to aromatherapy and have a limited budget it would make sense to use the same essential oils for digestion and pain. Suggested essential oils for pain and headaches are black pepper, chamomile (Roman, Matricaria recutita, or German, Chamaemelum nobile), copaiba (Copaifera langsdorffii), ginger, lavender, marjoram, peppermint, plai (Zingiber montanum), and rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) CT 1,8-cineole. Peppermint is one of my favourite essential oils for headache as well as pain, so I would include it in a blend for the two conditions.
A suggested 5 ml blend would be:
Add to 4.5 ml of carrier oil in a 5 ml essential oil bottle with orifice reducer. For headache, apply 1–2 drops to the area of pain and the back of the neck. For muscular pain, apply 2–3 drops to the area of pain and massage in.
Often in the busyness of preparing for our vacation we forget to take care of our health. Maybe we’ve stayed up late or haven’t eaten properly and suddenly begin to feel ill. This is not a good way to begin a vacation! Some essential oils that can help to keep us healthy are tea tree, eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), rosemary CT 1,8-cineole, niaouli (Melaleuca quinquenervia), plai, and helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum). If you are feeling congested, Eucalyptus globulus in a nasal inhaler would be a good option.
Another option would be to make a 5 ml blend:
Blend in 4.5 ml carrier oil. Apply 2–3 drops to lymph areas e.g., submandibular, 2–3 times per day.
No matter how excited we are about traveling; it can be overwhelming and exhausting. There are some great essential oils to support us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Lavender is usually top of mind when we think of feelings of anxiousness and sleeping difficulties, and rightfully so! A nasal inhaler with lavender just before bedtime or when feeling a little anxious is a great choice. Sweet orange is great for fretful children; Roman chamomile and petitgrain, orange (Citrus aurantium var. amara (fol)) are also good alternatives.
A nasal inhaler comes in 4 parts: the wick, the nasal inhaler, the base, and the cover.
Depending upon the age of the person using the inhaler and the essential oils being used, we typically use between 5 and 20 drops per inhaler. We do not dilute the essential oil(s) being used in the nasal inhaler.
We recommend using a small ramekin bowl to make nasal inhalers. We also recommend wearing gloves and using tweezers to pick up the cotton wick.
Add your essential oils to the bowl and then, using the tweezers, put the wick into the bowl and roll the wick back and forth until all the essential oil in the bowl has been absorbed by the wick.
Using tweezers, place the wick into the nasal inhaler and then pop the base on to the bottom of the inhaler. The cover is then screwed on tightly to the nasal inhaler to prevent the essential oil from evaporating.
Essential oils and essential oil blends should be stored in a glass amber essential oil bottle with an orifice reducer. The orifice reducer allows one drop to be dispensed at a time. Never store your essential oils in a bottle with a rubber pipette. Essential oils will erode the rubber on the pipette which will contaminate the essential oil or blend and cause spillage.
Essential oils don’t go rancid, but they are prone to something called oxidation. Oxidation changes the chemical profile of the essential oil, which not only makes it less effective but can also cause it to irritate skin when applied topically. Oxidized essential oils should not be used for any purpose. Oxidation is caused by exposure to air, heat, and UV light.
The way in which an essential oil is stored can greatly impact on the shelf life (positively or negatively) of the oil. The 3 major factors for essential oil degradation are atmospheric oxygen, heat, and light. Essential oils must be contained in dark-coloured bottles and stored in a cool, dark environment. The average shelf-life of an essential oil is 3–5 years; however, some essential oils are more prone to oxidation than others. Essential oils such as lemon, sweet orange and tea tree are more prone to oxidation and the average shelf-life for each of these is about 1 year. The average shelf life of most essential oils is 2–5 years.
It is important to keep your essential oils cool and away from light. Never leave your essential oils in a hot car or on a windowsill where the light shines in. If you are going to the beach or traveling with oils, consider storing your essential oils in a small cooler or in a medicine kit large enough to hold an ice pack. While at home keep your essential oils in a cool, dark space. I keep my oxidation-prone essential oils in a dedicated refrigerator.
Essence of Thyme College of Holistic Studies. (2020). Essential oils and hydrolates monographs [Class handouts]. Essence of Thyme College of Holistic Studies, Gold Standard Advanced Diploma in Aromatherapy. https://www.essenceofthyme.com/gold-standard
FabrikaCr. (2020, June 5). Creative photo of cosmetic bottle with pipette on a white background with shadow of tropical flower [Photograph]. iStock. https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/creative-photo-of-cosmetic-bottle-with-pipette-on-a-white-background-with-shadow-of-gm1227570349-362100463
Tisserand, R., & Young, R. (2014). Essential oil safety: a guide for health care professionals (2nd ed.). Churchill Livingstone.
Article by: Colleen Thompson, Cert Ed, MIFPA, RA®, EOT®, CA
For over 25 years, Colleen Thompson has been a passionate and highly respected aromatherapy educator. She has owned 3 aromatherapy stores and a holistic spa, and she founded Essence of Thyme in 1995, where she mentors budding aromatherapists from all over the world, helping them create their own thriving aromatherapy businesses.
Essence of Thyme College of Holistic Studies offers 300- and 630-hour professional aromatherapy certification programs that help you grow a successful, fulfilling career by specializing and creating your market niche. Professional Level Certification prepares graduates to become aromatherapy consultants, launch product lines or retail businesses, or provide services as an adjunct to existing holistic health specializations. Master Level Certification and electives are ideal for certified aromatherapists seeking higher education or a path to clinical aromatherapy practice.
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