We’re on the road again and we couldn’t be happier.
For our family, pursuing adventure together is becoming part of our DNA. The past two weeks we’ve been traveling down the West coast, starting from our home outside Vancouver, Canada and making our way through Washington and Oregon all the way to the Bay area in California.
The original impulse for this trip came out as a result of something called Maker Faire, a massive fair in San Mateo, CA, designed to equip, inspire and educate “makers”… be they entrepreneurs, programmers, inventors, or what have you.
It was wonderfully quirky and I quickly fell in love with this place where “it’s cool to be smart.” Our kids were offered opportunities to learn to solder, code, create and use robots, build circuits with LED lights, polish stones, watch drones battle each other, build Guinness-record setting style paper airplanes, and just generally, innovate. Highly recommend this to anyone, home educators or not.
To keep things cheap, we’ve been tent trailer camping our way across the country, and visiting as many beaches, rocky coasts, forests, mountains, and other outdoor wonderlands as possible.
With nature exploration (and road trips in general, actually) comes owies, tummy upsets, bug bites, rashes, headaches, sunburn and the like. Our kids are pretty much fearless and if they see a tree, they won’t stop until they’ve climbed it (scraped knees and banged up elbows be hanged).
Though we’re traveling with the massive medicine kit I originally put together for our trip around the world, it’s not quite necessary for shorter stints on the road.
For those wanting something small and simple, I created a list of what I would put in a small first aid kit of natural remedies, just perfect for your summer travels.
5 things to include in a natural first aid kit
1. Herbal salve
Whether you buy or make your own herbal healing salve, this is my #1 don’t-leave-home-without-it recommendation. We use this salve to soothe, encourage faster healing and prevent infection for any sort of cuts, scrapes, rashes, bites, or burns (after they’ve stopped burning).
2. Activated charcoal
You can also take in capsule form for almost any sort of digestive upset (gas, upset stomach, food poisoning, diarrhea, etc.). For adults, we swallow two capsules with water. For kids, we crack open a capsule into a spoonful of raw honey or apple sauce to make the medicine go down.
If charcoal isn’t your thing, and I’ll confess it can be messy, clay is my other go-to remedy. It can be mixed with water for digestive upsets, similar to charcoal. It’s also the perfect quick remedy for itchy bug bites, especially mosquito bites.
Powdered is the cheapest form to buy it in and you can always mix it with more water for taking internally, or less for making a thick paste for skin. I happen to like the tubes of hydrated first aid clay, just because they are so convenient while traveling or when you need it fast.
3. Essential oils
Essential oils are a handy remedy to keep with you at all times. Some of the cheapest single oils are the most useful for a variety of issues. My top three picks are:
- Peppermint– for digestion, headaches, motion sickness, allergies, and cooling (for heatstroke)
- Lavender– for relaxation/calm, difficulty falling asleep, applying directly to burns (both sunburns and from fire/hot water), insect bites.
- Tea tree – as a wound disinfectant (mixed with water), for rashes and skin soothing, cleaning/disinfecting while camping.
(And just a note… I’m not going to entertain a brand-war about EOs in the comments. I personally have about 5 or 6 different brands in my cupboards, the ones in the picture above are the ones I just happened to grab for this particular trip, and I prefer to keep this blog non-partisan when it comes to essential oils, if you know what I mean. If you’re really looking for somewhere to buy oils, I would recommend Mountain Rose Herbs.)
4. Aloe gel
Since you’re not likely to bring the potted plant off your kitchen windowsill, a small tube of straight aloe vera gel (look for one that is as close to 100% aloe as possible) is perfect for applying immediately to sunburns to cool and relieve the pain.
After the initial burning has stopped, herbal salve can also be used to aid faster healing. Wet chamomile tea bags will also work on burns in a pinch.
When we traveled to Arizona years ago, we carried these small drink packets with us. Being from Canada, the heat was a bit much for us and we sometimes felt light-headed or struggled with mild heat stroke, as well as the usual dehydration that you have to be aware of in high heat or dry climates.
The electrolytes in this drink are particularly useful for helping to combat dehydration and heat stroke. The regular EmergenC does have fructose (sugar) in it, but they also carry a special electrolyte mix that is sweetened with stevia (and barely at that – I usually add an extra drop or two of stevia to improve the taste).
Honorable mentions go to:
CleanWell hand sanitizer – This triclosan-free hand sanitizer is always in both my diaper bag and medicine kit. It’s the best all-natural sanitizer I’ve found so far and readily available in most natural/health stores, plus oodles of online shops.
Vitamin C/Zinc lozenges – Sometimes the stress of travel can lower the immune system, not to mention being exposed to different bugs or viruses in new places. Lozenges with vitamin C and zinc are a simple thing to carry for immune boosting and can help with a sore throat or cough as well. Just look for a brand with minimal sweeteners and no coloring.
Natural candied ginger or ginger gum – I love this for motion sickness, on long car rides, windy mountain roads, flights, etc. The ginger helps with nausea, and if you choose the gum, it combats painful ear popping with elevation changes. We also will use a dab of peppermint oil on pulse points. An even more specific oil blend for motion sickness is MotionEaze, which we brought on our round-the-world trip.
Arnica Gel – For kids who are particularly prone to bumps and bruises, arnica is a wonderful homeopathic remedy that helps to relieve pain, swelling and bruising. I apply it whenever someone comes back with something that looks like it’s going to be a doozie and it does help.
I’ve linked to Amazon for most of these products, as this is where I find the best prices on many items. However, I probably shop equally as often at Vitacost. If you’ve never shopped there before (and I highly recommend you check it out – their prices really are very competitive), you can use my referral link to pick up at $10 off coupon, good on any size order.
As we’ve traveled, we’ve had a few cuts and scrapes, some headaches, a cut lip, motion sickness, a burn, and the like over the course of this two-week trip, but nothing so major that my little kit couldn’t come to the rescue.
Our trip ends today and though we’re eager to get back home, we’re already scheming where else we might want to visit this summer, like renting a house on the coast with friends, or more camping. I’d love to hear what your own summer plans are!