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Even before the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) reared its ugly head to disrupt all our lovely travel plans, traveling was a dirty business. Yes, you know there are those of us who don't wash their hands after going to the bathroom, kids who slobber all over their hands and touch everything in sight (totally normal but....) and people who sneeze without covering their mouths. Why, you might ask yourself, don't they do that? I wonder that too and can't decide if it's a cultural thing or a bad manners thing but the reality is it doesn't really matter. I just have to integrate that reality into my travel plans and I've put together a list of how my family and I approach travel in places like airplanes and trains where the common areas - and the seat where you'll be inhaling every possible pathogen for hours - hasn't had the amount of cleaning that would be required to actually get the area clean.
On The Plane
Spray and Wipe with Essential Oils
Studies have shown the dirtiest parts of an airplane aren't the bathrooms! They are the trays, headrests and backseat pockets you've been using imprudently your whole life.
So that's what we focus on. That, plus the armrests and metal seat-belt buckles.
When I started to travel more, I bought a ready-made holistic travel essentials kit that I found in an artisan gift shop full of hand-made products. It had a tea tree and lavender oils spray, a roll-on headache relief combo and acupuncture magnets. But I've run-out of all the oils and looked online to replace the kit. Since I couldn't find that same kit, I made my own. Tea Tree oil is a natural antiviral and antimicrobial. There are a few blogs I follow that give recipes on how to make your own cleaning supplies without all the toxic side-effects of bleach and chlorine. Amazon has the dark-colored glass travel bottles that are the perfect size to store and travel with these life-promoting and bacteria-killing oils. The glass needs to be dark because light breaks down the oils.
When I first arrive in my row, I take out all the stuff I'm going to need to make my spot as clean as possible. I spray my essential oil based disinfectant all over my tray, my arm rests, the headrest, the touchable TV screen and the belt buckle. Then I'll use an organic wet wipe to wipe the liquid off. These are also great after you go to the bathroom because that plane water has also been tested to have tons of bacteria so the water that washes your hands is nasty too (wait to have that coffee or tea until you get where you're going please!). Also, this is great to have around for sticky, dirty hands since the sanitizing lotion just spreads the dirt around. I repeated this with the rest of the family's seating area too. If I'm flying solo, I ask my seatmates if they'd like my spray.
I recently purchased a tray cover and I love it! It looks good and has its own pockets. I recently read that the seat pocket is the dirtiest part of the airplane. After recalling all the tissues I'd stuffed in there while waiting for the flight attendant to come by with his trash bag, it makes sense. I'd still spray the armrests and entertainment touch screens down though.
Also, a recent new discovery is an airlplane seat cover. Yes, a pair of African-American sisters invented an anti-microbial slipcover called Slumber Bliss that goes over your airplane, bus or train seat so you don't have to share germs with the last five passengers who sat in your seat before you.
Spray More and Hydrate
Our pediatrician turned us on to a saline nasal spray with xylitol called Xlear. The saline moisturizes your nose as air travel can be notoriously dehydrating. The xylitol prevents germs from sticking to your mucus membranes. So, you know all that crap floating around? It won't stick to your nasal passages. I squirt it as I sit down in my seat a couple times and right before or after I'm about to get off the plane. Xylitol based chewing gum and lollipops are also great for equalizing the ears and preventing cavities. Yep, you read that right. Xylitol has tons of health benefits. It's also used as a sweetener and could help you lose/maintain your weight.
ProTip: The kids (or anyone actually) won't want to use your nasal spray after you no matter how many times you show them that you've sanitized the tip with your organic wet wipes. I found it easier to make a personal hygiene kit for everyone that includes an anti-microbial toothbrush and travel toothpaste for long flights.
If you're feeling really anxious about flying, germs or the coronavirus, meditation and deep breathing might help. A couple shots from the liquor cart might do it too. (Don't forget, stress destroys the immune system.) Also, if motion sickness is a thing for you, here are some tips.
Off the Plane
Before Allopathy became a thing in the medical world, Homeopathy cured many of the ailments presented in society. Unlike the list of side-effects associated with prescription drug commercials (that read as long as the commercial itself), there aren't any with homeopathic remedies. There also isn't much profit from selling them since they're inexpensive....and effective. So for an industry that goes into a lot of debt with the amount of schooling it requires to practice it, it's not an attractive option. But for those of us who actually want a remedy that works, without side-effects, it's perfect. I bought a homeopathic travel kit from Washington Homeopathics and, after being treated a few times by a couple different practitioners so I understood a bit how it works, I bought a book on how to diagnose my ailments and use the remedies efficiently. I'm still learning but friends have been amazed at how effective the remedies actually are. I have one friend who had gone to doctors for six weeks trying to figure out her head cold and after taking a homeopathic remedy, her head cleared in 10 minutes. Anyway, I'm not trying to convince you to give up what you're comfortable with, I'm exposing you to new ideas to supplement your existing base of knowledge. In case this is a new idea.
If you don't want to invest in the kit, the two things I carry with me in every purse I own (because they're so inexpensive, it's easy to stock up for convenience) are Arnica Montana for bruises (because, boys...) and Sovereign Silver Colloidal Silver for scrapes (....because boys...). Before antibiotics were invented, they used colloidal silver. It's important to get a reputable brand, however, because some formulations are processed in unsafe ways.
If you'd like to be a bit more prepared I got this list from the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges website and it appears pretty good based on common complaints we've experienced out in the world.
- Arnica montana – traumas, bruises, soreness, aches.
- Arsenicum album – food poisoning scenarios involving diarrhea, vomiting, chilliness.
- Belladonna – high and sudden intense fevers. Dilated pupils, redness, heat with no sweating.
- Ferrum phosphoricum – high fevers with chills, rosy cheeks; may not act or feel acutely sick.
- Nux vomica – digestive upset due to overindulging in foods or alcohol; headaches, constipation.
- Aconitum napellus – any physical or emotional ailments from sudden fright or getting chilled - this also prevents you from getting sick if you're around those that are.
- Cantharis – sunburns, UTIs with scalding and bloody drops of urine.
- Cocculus indicus – motion sickness, jet lag, time zone changes, insomnia.
- Ledum – insect bites or blunt trauma, relieved by cold application.
- Apis – insect bites, hives, allergic reactions; with swelling, redness and heat; relieved by cold.
Now, if you've never worked with a homeopathic practitioner or doctor, it might be a good idea to do that first so you get an idea of how it works. But for non-life threatening maladies, these are a great choice. (Always consult your medical practitioner, though, before undertaking any new type of treatment. Though you might want to select someone who knows something about this stuff before forming an opinion ....looking at you Dr. C!)
Even before the Coronavirus reared its ugly head to disrupt all our lovely travel plans, traveling was a dirty business. Learn how to stay healthy while your family vacations...naturally!
Other Ways to Boost Your Immune System
This virus attacks the lungs first so you need something that protects and does battle against germs there first. I learned about this Himalayan Salt Inhaler from my mother-in-law who is battling cancer. It's like being in a salt room in your house and cleans out your respiratory system from the inside with no drugs and it doesn't require electricity to work so you can use it anywhere. After using it, you realize how much clearer your respiratory system feels, even if it didn't feel like it was inflamed. I like this brand because it comes in a variety of colors so you could get one for each member of your family, if you want, and be able to tell them apart.
Listen, there's also nothing like having a solid immune system that does all the fighting for you. The people that die from the regular flu are people with compromised immune systems, older people with underlying medical conditions, people with respiratory ailments and babies. So if that's not you, don't worry about it.
Also! Guess what? Most kids are asymptomatic with Coronavirus. In fact, the symptoms and duration of Coronavirus (COVID-19) are most mild with babies! You can keep an eye on the progress of worldwide infestation here. Remember, stress causes your immune system to weaken.
Here's how to keep your immune system strong:
- Take Elderberry gummies (or syrup but gummies are easier when you travel) - Elderberry has been shown in tons of studies to be more effective at fighting flu (and colds) than the vaccines and also way more effective at treating them vs. Tamiflu - with no side-effects that drugs sometime produce. If you're super inspired here's a homemade elderberry recipe you can use.
- It starts as a sore throat - an Oregano Oil / Olive Leaf tincture will kill some viruses in your throat.
- Sleep - the above homeopathic remedies may work to get your body to integrate into a new time zone so you could get the sleep you need to stay well. We've also used melatonin to stimulate our body's natural desire to sleep (especially to combat the natural excitement of being in front of a TV screen on a plane for hours). Also, I found an app at the Los Angeles Travel and Adventure Show called Uplift that resets your body clock through acupressure. It totally works. I've told tons of people about it. Invented by a scientist who was tired of jet-lag (lol), so he found a way around it.
- Juice Plus or another good whole food supplement high in vitamin C - we've been taking this since Kaleb turned four and I complained to our pediatrician that he was always getting sick and making me sick since I never got enough sleep because I was still nursing Knox. These are 33 fruits and vegetables and fruits, juiced and dehydrated. They come in gummies and capsules. I buy it for our parents too so have an account with the company if you want to try it.
- Water - You never know how clean your water is if you're traveling in another country. Hell, you don't know how clean your water in in THIS country. Unless you read the water quality report, which I've done and why I now buy bottled water that comes in glass jugs. Water flushes toxins from your system and it's essential that you have a good source. One option is a reusable water bottle that filters the bacteria and viruses from the local water supply. The GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier + Filter Bottle even filters nasty chemicals you shouldn't be drinking like fluoride and chlorine. Plus, if you keep buying plastic bottles, you might start feeling guilty about it, you might think of the BPA going into your body and you might run out of water in the middle of the night!
- Probiotics - Most of your immune system is centralized in the gut and how you process food directly impacts what your body gets or doesn't get out of it. A good probiotic - which naturally populates your gut with the healthy bacteria it needs to operate effectively - is essential in our processed food world. I used to LOVE the VSL#3 probiotic and would seriously have a crowd gathered around me at parties as I extolled its insane efficacy. But, alas, like all good things, it had to end. They were victims of their own success and tore each other down as their profits went up. I have yet to find one I like as much but I do use this one and it's the best I've found so far. But I get mine from Sprouts and not Amazon because they have to be refrigerated. Maybe they ship it in a cold pack? I'm looking for one I can take when I travel and this site has some great tips.
Here's some additional tips from the CDC to prevent infection. Oh, and don't forget to wash your hands (just not on a plane, ewww!).
If you've found a way that keeps your family healthy when you travel, I'd love for you to share it with everyone by leaving your advice below. Thanks so much for your time!
Disclaimer: I just became an affiliate for the Amazon website since, as a mom, it's the most frequent way I shop now and it's also how I recommend products to friends that I'm using and love. You can't hold back my love. Yet, I'm not an affiliate of any of the other products I recommended except Juice Plus.
Disclaimer two: I'm not a doctor and this isn't medical advice. This is me, sharing what I've learned and some of the resources that contributed to that knowledge. Please visit a homeopathic doctor or a naturopath or an MD to get more detailed advice for your specific condition.