During the Renaissance, members of the European nobility started traveling across Europe in search of culture, knowledge, and enjoyable experiences. This “Grand Tour” provided education and a great deal of happiness to nobles much like modern backpackers and nomads.
For all the enjoyment, there were plenty of downsides for our ancestors and in the modern day. People in certain professional roles live on the road for hundreds of days out of the year and despite the desperate attempts to remain healthy, there are still ailments.
Traveling is incredibly difficult on the immune system and creates a whole host of problems for the body. Particularly problematic are reductions in sleep quality, higher stress levels, and the downstream effects of both.
With careful and methodical applications of nootropic compounds, it’s easy to overcome many of these ailments that are often coupled with travel so that you can enjoy yourself more and remain more productive.
Anxiety and Stress During Travel
One of the greatest challenges that come with flying are the stressors involved. Traveling through airports can be particularly challenging due to the high levels of security, the scrutiny, and potential for missed flights and lost opportunity.
For those with an anxious personality, it might be useful to skip caffeine on days that you are flying. Here are a list of recommended nootropics for handling the anxiety so you can relax:
L-Theanine – this major component of black and green tea helps to promote relaxation through a particular feature called “alpha brain waves”. These brain waves are similar to the benefits of meditation, but requires much less time. The alpha waves are associated with relaxation so you can enjoy yourself while in the airport or traveling. Also, if you feel the need to drink caffeine even with an anxious personality, this option is good for travel days to keep you calm as well.
Bacopa Monnieri – the ancient Indian Ayurvedic practitioners loved this herb as a fat soluble adaptogen that could help reduce anxiety and stress. Bacopa can help to improve mood, but also has powerful effects for strengthening the body against disease and stressors. This is useful for any type of stress including that which comes from airport and travel experiences.
Lemon Balm – as you may know from our post on lemon balm, it can be a great tool for relaxation and reducing anxiety. If you are prone to high levels of anxiety, especially in general social situations with many strangers, this might be a great option for you during travel scenarios.
A Good Night of Sleep
Even for those with no qualms about airports, security, and the drama of travel might still have problems with their circadian rhythm. Recently, I traveled to Costa Rica and despite only 1 hour time difference, the flight delays landed us in the hotel room at 4:30 AM with an 8 AM shuttle departure!
Sleep quality is important and especially when traversing many time zones. Getting good sleep is far more useful than finding the most effective drugs for improving your focus and concentration. Here are some options to help tackle different sleep-related problems.
Melatonin – this is nothing more than a brain chemical that is already in your brain primarily for the purpose of sleep. That being said, the brain chemical is on a clock that gets disrupted for travel. You might find yourself wide awake at 3 AM in the morning because your circadian clock has not caught up. Dave Asprey has a very specific regimen for sleeping, which includes melatonin in small amounts while traveling.
Huperzine A – studies suggest that huperzine A, a specific extract from huperzia serrata, can help to improve the quality of sleep by up to 30%. By allowing you to get better REM sleep you can utilize more bang for your buck even if you can’t get the number of hours or comfortable setup that you are used to.
Phenibut – as with any tool, phenibut should be used with care. It can be addictive, which is why taking it only during acute travel occasions is a good idea. A small dose will be a potent relaxation tool for anyone who is trying to maintain good quality sleep. If you use this for specific travel situations only, that discipline will help you to avoid tolerance or dependence.
Immune Boosting for Compromised Habits
Even if you do your best to maintain a healthy diet, sleep, and exercise habits, on the road things can slide. No matter how good you are at home, getting those same habits outside of your normal routine is a great challenge and doesn’t always happen.
As the habits start to slide, so does health. Compromised habits can be the bane of any travelers existence because it causes negative effects on the immune system. Here are some options to keep your immune system strong while on the road:
Vitamin C – this isn’t something you haven’t already heard before, but vitamin C is a little more nuanced than some people would have you believe. The number one problem with simply drinking orange juice is that most concentrated fruit juices are full of sugar, which is an immunosuppressant. In short, any good you get from the vitamin C is overshadowed by the bad (sugar) in this instance. Try to find a simple supplement instead.
Reishi mushroom – traditional Chinese medicine is still one of the most popular alternative routes that people can choose from. Aside from being less invasive than many western approaches, it is also incredibly effective and rooted in thousands of years of efficacy. Reishi mushroom is a great immune booster that you can utilize to prevent illness while on the road. It has a harsh taste, but you can easily add it to a smoothie of some sort and see the difference.
Other adaptogens – beyond simply bacopa monnieri, there are other adaptogenic herbs as well. One of these is called rhodiola rosea, which was an herb used by Vikings in Scandinavia in order to handle the cold. It is useful as a stress agent and immune booster in the same way as bacopa monnieri and another Indian herb called ashwagandha. Any (or all) of these can help to prevent illness while on the road.
EpiCor – sometimes the greatest defense for your immune system is just to strengthen what you already have. EpiCor is a fermented yeast supplement that helps your body to build a natural microbiome. According to one Reddit nootropics moderator “If I keep daily dosages of it, I do not get sick. Period… After starting on an EpiCor regimen, along with some probiotics, I am back to being able to fight off sicknesses…” Strong words from a well-respected individual on the subject.
Cultivate Travel Skills
As you continue through your travel routine, you will undoubtedly find more skills that you can leverage to make the experience better. Nothing is better than hard-fought experience especially considering how unique each person is. Combine what you have learned with some of these unique solutions and you’ll have a much better experience thriving while traveling.