Natural ‘First Aid Kit’ for Travel

Renée Naturally Qualified Naturopath, Nutritionist & Western Medical Herbalist

In my mind, nothing is as inspiring, energising, and enlightening as travel. The anticipation, the journey, and then the reflection are equally exciting and keep the mind actively seeking new experiences to grow and challenge us physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Whether your adventure sees you lounging by a local lake, camelback riding in a desert, or scaling lofty mountains in some faraway land… packing a ‘natural first aid kit’ means that you can relax and enjoy the experience knowing that you’ve got the basics covered for any common holiday ‘ills’ you may encounter.

At first glance, the list might seem a bit exhaustive but just pick and choose depending on your destination and requirements. Part of the beauty of travel is that we’re living out of our comfort zone, but let’s face it- no one wants to get into a ‘discomfort zone’ with the likes of diarrhea, sunburn or nausea, so here are my fave natural first aid essentials…


Aloe Vera Gel – A remarkably effective treatment for any kind of burn, especially sunburn. It helps to relieve discomfort, speeds healing, reduces inflammation and also helps moisturize the skin and relieve dryness. Gently apply a thin layer of Aloe Vera gel to the sunburned area – reapply it every hour until the pain is gone. Make sure you choose a product that contains no mineral oil, paraffin waxes, alcohol, or coloring. If you’re lucky enough to be in the tropics, fresh aloe can be found in many local markets. Cut the stem in half horizontally and rub the sticky pulp directly on the affected area. Remember to drink loads of water as sunburn dehydrates the body!



Probiotics – Basically, our bodies need both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria to stay in healthy balance. Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria that our bellies require in order to stand strong against ‘bad’ bacteria that can dominate if we’re run down, eating badly, or exposed to new environments and foods. Having a harmonious balance of good and bad bacteria means that you’ll be less prone to illness when external bacteria try to invade and wage war on your holiday health! Ask your health store for a brand that doesn’t need to be kept refrigerated (as many do, which is just a hassle if you’re on the go), and take 1 capsule on an empty stomach every morning.


Homeopathic ‘No jet-lag’ Pills – Everyone seems to have a theory about how best to beat the lag…but really, it catches up with most of us in the end one way or another! My best advice is pretty simple really…loads of water and no caffeine or alcohol en route. Homeopathic jetlag pills are also really effective in my experience, and are available in most supply stores at airports worldwide.


Rescue Remedy – Often touted as ‘Yoga in a bottle’, this Bach flower remedy is used worldwide by people of all ages to help calm the body in times of stress or discomfort. It’s a great remedy to take if you find yourself a bit too far out of your comfort zone, or the logistics or traveling become a bit too stressful. It also helps to calm the mind if you find it hard to sleep in a new bed or time zone.



Vitamin C – Because the body can’t manufacture Vit. C itself, it must be obtained through the diet or in the form of supplements. Let’s face it…holidays are often a time for indulgence and although we might have the best intentions to be healthy, we might not get ample amounts of fresh fruit and veges to top up our Vit. C levels (Pina Coladas don’t count, sorry!) It’s important to keep our immune systems strong when traveling, as we’re often exposed to new viruses and bacteria, and the last thing you want is to be knocked back with the flu when everyone else is enjoying themselves. Take 500 mg twice a day… think of it as nutritional travel insurance!


Ginger Tablets – People suffering from motion sickness experience symptoms that range from severe headache, through queasiness to nausea and vomiting while travelling. Ginger is an excellent preventative and treatment for nausea and upset stomachs. Take 2 ginger capsules (approx 1000 mgs) every three hours, starting one hour before the beginning of a trip. Prevention is the key; motion sickness is far easier to prevent than it is to cure.


Activated Charcoal Tablets – Exotic food…lovely! Taking your taste buds on a tantalizing journey is part of the joy of travel, but it pays to be prepared in case last night’s dinner delight turns into the morning’s misery! In an acute (i.e. sudden onset) bacterial or viral infection of the gastrointestinal tract (aka your guts), taking activated charcoal often stops the diarrhea. It works by adsorbing the organisms causing the infection and since charcoal itself is not absorbed; it carries the offending organisms safely out of the body. A typical dose is 2 to 4 capsules, 4 or more times per day for up to 2 days. It’s super important that you drink at least 2 liters of clean water a day to help flush the body of the bacteria and charcoal while staying hydrated.



Homeopathic Arnica Drops – The most widely known and used homeopathic remedy. Arnica assists the body’s natural response to shock, injury, fatigue, and bruising, and aids normal muscle recovery after strenuous exercise or exertion. If you’re planning a non-active true R&R holiday, it also assists the body’s natural ability to cope with long-distance air travel and helps restore normal sleep patterns. Acute dose: Take 4 drops per dose orally every 15 minutes for up to 6 doses, then 3 times a day as required.


Natural Insect Repellent – is there anything peskier than sandflies or mosquitoes attacking you while you’re in your Zen-zone? Fight back! Look for products with a mixture of any of the following essential oils – or make up your own concoction pre-trip…Citronella, lemon, eucalyptus, cinnamon, rosemary, lemongrass oil, peppermint, and lavender. Mix in a base of castor or cold-pressed almond oil. Apply liberally as needed. You can also take Vitamin B supplements, which supposedly make you less appealing to mozzies while also boosting your energy levels.


Natural Zinc Sunscreen – Protecting the skin from the elements is so important and thankfully natural sunscreens are starting to make it into mainstream stores. The active ingredient to look out for is ‘Zinc Oxide’ as this is regarded as the best and safest physical sun-blocking agent. Do a little skin test before buying your block, as some zinc brands leave you looking pretty pasty white. ‘Invisible Zinc’ is a goodie.


On a serious note, remember to be careful when taking natural remedies into foreign countries. It is better to carry herbs and supplements as tablets in their original packaging and avoid carrying dried or fresh herbs unless you have special permission. Always declare your natural remedies when asked.


Last of all, my favorite/lightest/cheapest first aid essential – Air plugs! Solid sleep is a must as nothing dulls the highlights of travel more than tired little eyes! Wake up refreshed and ready to capture the beauty that is adventure and discovery, wherever in the world you may be. Here’s to future healthy and happy holidays!

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