4 Essential oils you must carry on your travels | And how to use them

Browsing essential oils and perfumes in Pushkar, Rajasthan
Browsing essential oils and perfumes in Pushkar, Rajasthan

While essential oils might seem to you very much a new-age experiment, a vegan passion, or a quirk of the flower-children, they have been around for a long time.

The ancient Egyptians, for instance, used oils to mummify. That means Egyptian mummies were using the oils when they traveled from this world to the next. And if it works when you change this world for another, it’s worth a try when you’re merely changing cities, right?

Closer to the present day, the gifts that the wise men bought sweet baby Jesus? They included myrrh and balsam. Great present for someone who was on the move a lot.

Fragrances, whether they come from plants or resins, have therefore had a significant role in various cultures. They’re valued for their spiritual, physical, and emotional benefits. And today, one of the easiest ways to use fragrances for health is through essential oils.

First though, you might want to know how essential oils work. They are said to effectively stimulate the limbic system. You can use them externally after carrying out a patch test for sensitivity. Please do not ingest them.

Packing a few when you travel, along with medicines and other aid necessary, is a great idea. They can help you address everything from travel anxiety to motion sickness. And carrying 10 – 20 ml bottles adds no weight at all, they’re so easy to carry. After a few years, I feel that essential oils are must-haves for travel.

So, here are 4 basic oils (with options) that make great travel companions.

1. Lavender essential oil

Earthy & floral, lavender is a staple ingredient in the majority of beauty & bath products. Bath salts, shampoos, teas, soaps, creams & mists – lavender’s a popular ingredient everywhere.
With good reason. It is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial.
Stress of travel getting to you? Skin drying because of long flights and sudden change in weather? Unable to sleep in a bed other than your own? Lavender can help you ease out all these struggles. It’s a grounding and clearing oil.

Suggested uses: Rub a few drops, with carrier oil, on scalps and soles before bedtime. You will enjoy wonderful sleep. Few drops in water for a relaxing bath. Use with cream or oil to massage face.

Alternatives: Sandalwood, Clary Sage, Cedarwood

2. Eucalyptus essential oil

A useful weapon against headaches, seasonal allergies, and coughs, eucalyptus oil belongs in every backpack. It’s basically a great friend for your immune system and during those trips to the mountains (because mountains over beaches, right?). Your sinuses will clear like the skies after rains. And it gets the blood circulating.

Suggested use: Apply a few drops to your chest and the back of your neck to decongest. Alternatively, put a few drops in hot water and inhale (with a towel over your head). For headaches, put a few drops on cotton balls and rub your temples.

Alternatives: Thyme, Peppermint

3. Tea tree essential oil

God, the uses of this oil. Just ask the cosmetic companies which are making a huge profit from it. Tea tree is antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory.
Stress, change in weather, and exposure to different micro-organisms during travel can affect the quality of your skin and hair tremendously, and tea tree is beautifully effective in those cases. If you have insect bites, or scratches, or wounds – you need tea tree oil. Research says it’s also useful to fight head lice. Well, I’ve never had to find out for myself. If you do, let me know.

Suggested uses: A few drops in your bath water for keeping skin and scalp clean. You can also use it on a clean cotton pad to dab your post-wash face.
Apply topically on insect bites, scratches and burns. Of course, be careful.

Alternatives: Geranium, Camphor, Lavender (not on open bites/wounds)

4. Lemon essential oil:

I mean it could be any citrus oil. Mainly because they’re very uplifting.
We don’t always travel for leisure, often it’s work, or other circumstances. Maybe we feel alone, overwhelmed or stifled in a foreign place or culture. In those situations, citrus oils are great mood lifters. The smell of oranges makes me feel . . . zesty (sorry). Also, if you’re feeling nauseous, whether on a flight or elsewhere – sniffing a whiff can help. It also helps relieve constipation if used consistently over a period of time. Used before sleep, it helps brighten skin. (Citrus oils are photosensitive so don’t use on exposed skin before stepping out in the sun).

Suggested uses: Mix with coconut oil and rub on the back of your neck, wrists, stomach for improving mood. Inhale directly from the bottle for relieving symptoms of nausea. You can also add a few drops to your massage oil.

Alternatives: Mentioned above.

Now, as a proper person with functional grey cells, I expect that you will not drown yourself in these oils, drink them, or use them in place of medicines. Because, mate, you shouldn’t. Diffuse them in the room, squeeze a few drops in your bath water, massage them as advised.

So, are you going to stay well away from this vegan voodoo, or, are you ready to pack your personal essential oil kit?