During the summer, Andrew, Bandit, and I spend a lot of time in the car.  Between visiting my family at the Jersey shore, Andrew’s family on Maryland’s Eastern shore, teaching trips and trips to visit friends, we do 90% of our year’s driving between June and September.

I can get a little headachy or nauseous from the vibration of the engine and fumes on the road.  I try to make sure I have some of my favorite herbs along for the ride.  But sometimes, if we leave the house in a hurry, I have to make do with what’s easily purchased at a supermarket or rest stop.

Here’s a quick primer to ease your end-of-the-season travels (even if you forgot your herbal first aid kit!). 

PURiST WARNING: I am about to recommend some foods that might not normally make it onto the “healthy” list.  If that will induce nausea in you, stop reading now!

First off, stay hydrated.  The first thing “Aunt Maia” does when the little people start complaining of a headache is give them some water.  Is this always the answer?  No.  Is it the answer often enough that its the first thing I reach for?  Yes.

If someone is nauseous, water can actually induce vomiting.  Adding a little bit of juice to the water will help it stay down.

The addendum to staying hydrated:  if it’s hot out and you are sweating, make sure there is sodium and potassium in your snacks.  When you sweat, you lose these important minerals.  Just lick your sweaty arm if you don’t believe me.

Both sweet potatoes and white potatoes are good sources of potassium.  Salt is a good source of sodium.  So, in a road-trip pinch, grab a bag of chips with your water.

Other road trip necessities:

Ginger: I prefer ginger chews or glycerite to settle my stomach.  Quick fix:  supermarket fresh ginger.  Just break off a piece and suck on it.

Peppermint: great for both headaches and stomach rumblings.  My first choice:  Peppermint Essential Oil.  Just sniffing can go a long way to calm head and stomach.

You can put one drop of peppermint essential oil into a small bottle of water, shake it up, and pour onto a towel (or a t-shirt!) to lay over the forehead of a headaches sufferer.

For general over-heating, try putting a few drops of oil directly on the feet.  If you are running the A/C and the air in the car is stale (or the highway exhaust is getting to you), put a drop on the edge of the a/c vent.

Left home without your peppermint essential oil: York Peppermint Patty actually contains real peppermint oil!  A sweet way to settle the stomach.

Chamomile is great if you are traveling with kids.  A few drops of chamomile glycerite can go a long way to soothe grumpy kids.  Just be mindful that on rare occasions chamomile will act as an allergen to someone with a ragweed allergy.

I also use chamomile for digestive upsets and menstrual cramping.

No chamomile in the car?  Pull into a rest-stop Starbucks and order a cup of Tazo’s Calm tea.  This can be watered down for kids.  I’ve also had success using this as a wash for hives!  You can read that story here.

If you aren’t on the highway, a grocery store will often have a variety of chamomile teabags.  Make sure you choose one that does not have artificial flavorings, which can cause agitation in some people, which will negate the effects of the chamomile.

My final road trip recommendation:  Five Flower Formula (also called Rescue Remedy).  If traveling at 75 MPH isn’t good for your nerves, add a few drops of Five Flower Formula to your water or put a drop or two under your tongue.

Happy trails!