Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Packing For Mexico To Stay Healthy While Traveling

by Kristen Suzanne in Kristen Suzanne, travel
My (funny) husband's solution to not using tap water while traveling in Mexico. Cover up the faucet with a horse face.

My husband’s solution to not using tap water at our hotel, while traveling in Mexico. Cover up the faucet with a horse face. I’m sure housekeeping was amused.

We traveled to Mexico during the winter and it was the first time taking Kamea outside of the United States. I was concerned about the possibility of getting ill as you so often hear from people traveling to Mexico, so I did my best to research and prepare well for the trip. Thankfully, as a result of my preparations and packing, we all stayed perfectly healthy.

Please note: I am not a doctor, nor a midwife, nor a nurse… I don’t even have a Ph.D. in motherhood yet. The following info, as well as everything on my blog, is not to be considered medical advice. Please, do your own research. 

Before leaving for Mexico, we were advised by our Naturopathic doctors to start taking probiotics and to continue taking them while traveling. We usually have probiotics on hand in the house anyway so that was easy. Here is the brand that Greg and I take and here is what Kamea takes.

The following list is what I packed for our trip.

  • Chlorella – I was unsure as to how our diet would be in Mexico so I packed chlorella to supplement our diet with nutrients as well as to help keep our systems cleansed. Some research suggests that chlorella is great at binding to certain dietary heavy metals like mercury, aluminum, and uranium.
  • Vitamin C Powder – I travel with Vitamin C. Always. It’s so good and proven for fighting illness, viruses, and boosting overall immunity. But, since Kamea doesn’t take capsules yet, I also travel with a food based vitamin C powder. I simply put a teaspoon of it into her sippy cup and shake it up. It’s a bit tart, which she likes some days. On the days she doesn’t, lol, I add vanilla drops and raw honey. Note: “Liposomal” vitamin C is reputed to be the best for optimal absorption of high levels of vitamin C. I make my own liposomal vitamin C at home because it’s cheaper, but its shelf life is limited so I also buy this liposomal vitamin C at times for our medicine cabinet emergencies and travel.
  • Vanilla extract drops – I just love these. Vanilla extract drops make drinking water more fun, and while they won’t keep you healthy per se, they do entice you and your family to drink more water; therefore, staying hydrated, and that’s important. One drop is all you need in a glass of water to transform it into something wonderful, and it’s especially useful for kids who want to drink something other than plain ol’ water. I pack them while traveling so when I mix things like the Vitamin C powder (noted above) into Kamea’s water, along with Raw Honey and a drop of vanilla, it makes the drink irresistible.
  • Raw Honey – Honey is on my must-pack travel list no matter where we go. It has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties to help fight infections from viruses, bacteria, and fungi. I pack it for many reasons including: immunity, cuts, sores, boo-boos, aching throats, soothing tummies, and heck… have a spoonful for dessert and skip the tantalizing crap desserts in most restaurants. I also like traveling with Manuka Honey, especially when going out of the country or camping for its intense abilities to help healing internally and externally. Tip: Put a couple tablespoons of raw honey in a tiny container that can be taken in your carry-on baggage through security without any issues. Put the rest of the jar in your suitcase in a zip bag. Then, once you’re through security, add the raw honey from the little container to a bottle (or two!) of water that you buy, and shake it up. Now, you have a delicious and hydrating treat that can help boost immunity and coat your throat on that icky, dry airplane. 
  • Essential Oils: Specifically Ginger Essential oil. Peppermint Essential oil. Tea Tree Essential oil – Here’s the thing… essential oils rock. These specific essential oils are important for the following reasons. Ginger can used in cases of digestive upset, which, hello(!), can be common in Mexico. Simply put a drop in some raw honey on a spoon or add a drop to a glass of bottled water and drink. Peppermint is wonderful for increasing energy, enhancing digestion, fighting headaches, using for body aches, and many other things. Tea tree oil is wonderful for bug bites (peppermint essential oil is, too, and peppermint essential oil results in a cooling effect when applied topically, which helps relieve pain), zits, disinfecting, etc. Also, to keep germs at bay if you don’t have access to a sink and soap, place a drop (of almost any quality essential oil) in your hands and rub them together. Another bonus of essential oils is that they’re small enough to put in your carry-on bag while flying (even a few of them). I like to inhale them while traveling on planes to help keep my respiratory system healthy. However, if you don’t want to bring the little bottle of essential oil through carry-on, you can put some drops on an organic cotton ball and store it in a little zip baggie. Once you’re on the airplane, sniff the cotton ball from time to time and enjoy its health benefits on your respiratory system in that fashion. I buy ALL of my quality organic essential oils from either Living Libations and/or Mountain Rose Herbs because they have an amazing selection, superior quality, and I love supporting their environmentally minded businesses. Truly. These two companies are the best. *Note: I’m sharing a much more detailed post on how my family uses quality essential oils in our Home Pharmacy and for beauty in the near future.
  • Essential Oil Antibacterial Wipes – I use these to wipe down the airplane tray table and arm rests, hotel room door handles / phone / remote etc, and for our hands while out. I’m not totally anti-germ, but while traveling, especially in a foreign country, the last thing I want is for one of us to get sick so I go above and beyond to do all I can for prevention.
  • Organic Cayenne Pepper – This has a reputation for helping digestion, especially if ill from food, boosting immunity, and helping fight congestion. It’s spicy though, so the recommendation I’ve read is to start with a small amount (a pinch and work one’s way up to a teaspoon, if that’s even possible -> a teaspoon is a LOT so I wouldn’t start anywhere near that high amount) stirred into water and drink. You could add some raw honey that you smartly packed to help a bit with the spiciness.
  • Black Cumin Seed OilNigella sativa is a powerful medicinal plant which enjoys a robust reputation for healing a lot of things. It has a long history (especially in Egypt) of being used for many ailments from headache to toothache to sick stomachs to beauty (and a plethora more). If digestion problems occur while traveling, especially from food, black cumin seed oil could help, which is why I pack it. Black cumin seed oil’s benefits for digestive upset continue to gain popularity today, as well as its potential immune boosting bragging rights (including helping the fight of cancer – big stuff). Poke around long enough online and you’ll see claims of it helping practically everything, including depression. Now, I won’t buy into all of the promises with gusto, yet, until more studies are done, but it turns out they’re being done all the time so perhaps I’ll be shouting black cumin seed oil benefits from the rooftop sooner than later. For now, I believe it could help in certain situations and definitely warrants a place in my medicine cabinet. I buy high quality black cumin seed oil from Mountain Rose Herbs. Once on their page, simply search for “black cumin seed oil.”
  • Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Oil – I would prefer to travel with fermented cod liver oil because of its high vitamin A content and balance of nutrients, which are vital to a healthy immune system, and it also has omega fatty acids. While traveling, it seems our diet becomes higher in omega-6 than omega-3, so by supplementing with something that has omega-3 I can help improve our ratio which assists fighting inflammation. However, I like to keep our fermented cod liver oil in the refrigerator and I didn’t want to chance it leaking while traveling (that would’ve sucked). Therefore, after much research, I opted for Vital Choice Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Oil Capsules. This minimally processed salmon oil has retinol and other nutrients similar to fermented cod liver oil, albeit less and in different ratios. This was the 2nd best choice as far as I was concerned. My whole family took these daily, including Kamea. For her, she just pops them (one at a time) in her mouth and chews them (supervised). I call them “pink gummies” which is fun for her and they taste like fish which she doesn’t mind because she loves wild caught salmon roe.
  • Braun Thermoscan Ear Thermometer – we use this thermometer and we love it. Easy to use and fast. I always travel with it.
  • Kit’s organic snack bars – I wanted to make sure I had something Kamea could snack on for those times she wants something extra. This way I don’t have to scramble to find something to feed her that meets my standards in another country.

Then, we had rules to strictly follow… 

  1. Bottled water for everything(!!!!!!!) including ALL drinks HOT N COLD. We didn’t even chance drinking coffee in restaurants. Instead we brewed our own in the hotel using bottled water. Tip: if you need extra bottled water while traveling you’ll often find some in the exercise facility of the hotel.
  2. Bottled water for brushing teeth. I know I wrote in number one (above) that it’s important to use bottled water for everything, but this bears repeating. We used it for brushing our teeth and rinsing our cups and toothbrushes, too. See that picture at the top of this post? We put that modified cup on the faucet to continuously remind us to NOT use the tap!
  3. No ice in drinks even if drinking bottled water. All too often we would order bottled water but the staff would bring a glass with ice as well. No no no. Send it back and ask for a fresh and “new” glass without ice. Don’t let them just toss the ice and serve that same glass either because the ice most assuredly started to melt and the glass would have residual tap water in it.
  4. Mouth closed in shower. Remember in the movie Sex in the City when Charlotte traveled to Mexico and accidentally opened her mouth to fill it with water from the shower (see clip above)? What happened? Montezuma’s Revenge. Keep it safe and keep it closed in the shower.
  5. Wash hands a lot! We washed our hands more while traveling and I’m glad we did. It’s just better to be safe than sorry especially when traveling with kiddos.

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