How to Choose the Right Essential Oils for Traveling

How to Choose the Right Essential Oils for Traveling

It’s pretty much a given that I’ll take essential oils with me when we travel. I literally take them with me everywhere anyway, thanks to the small pouch that’s full of sample vials that I keep in my purse.

How to Choose the Right Essential Oils for Traveling

I love my essential oils and since discovering high-quality essential oils that can be used for many different reasons, I frequently pull out that pouch while I’m out and about, whether I need an oil or a friend asks me for some.

So you can bet I take my oils with me when we hit the road on an adventure.

Many people ask me what oils I take with me and I can tell you right now what’s in that pouch:

  • Lavender
  • Frankincense
  • Breathe
  • Melaleuca
  • Lemon
  • DigestZen
  • On Guard
  • Peppermint

(You can read more about why I chose those ones here.)

But when I’m traveling, I always ask myself a few questions so I know which oils I should take, because while I use those oils in my pouch most often, there’s usually a need for something else when we’re away from home.

Try asking yourself these questions before you travel

  • What do I frequently use essential oils for? Stomach problems? Nausea? Migraines? Make sure to take those oils with you, as travel can aggravate ailments you already deal with.
  • What are common problems encountered at this destination? Do people frequently have problems with upset stomach, insomnia, etc.?
  • What are common problems with this mode of travel? 
  • Will we be around people who are sick frequently? If so, what oils will help ward off illness and boost our immune systems?
  • How can I use my oils to bless the people we’re visiting? Do they have a chronic problem I could help with? Would someone benefit from a massage with these oils? (I asked myself this before a recent women’s retreat and found that the Aroma Touch kit was the perfect travel companion).

How to take them with you

When I travel, I take my keychain pouch I mentioned before and make sure all of the little vials are topped off. If there are other oils I want to take, I put them in a small box or pouch where they won’t move around.

If you want to only take sample vials, an empty Altoids box makes the perfect travel case.

The best oils to take with you

Here are some great oils you could take with you. Choose the ones that you’ll most likely need. And, of course, you can always take oils that aren’t on this list – it’s mainly to give you some ideas.

  • Lavender: Excellent for helping you get to sleep and for soothing nerves. Also great for first aid treatment of burns, scrapes, cuts, etc.
  • Peppermint: Use to relieve head tension and nausea. Cools the body and provides an energy boost.
  • Melaleuca: Cleans and disinfects. Soothes earaches and irritated skin.
  • DigestZen: Use for digestive upset of any kind. Must have no matter where you go.
  • On Guard: Use to boost the immune system and fight illness. Full of antioxidants. Disinfectant. Breath freshener.
  • Balance: Grounding blend that is awesome for relieving stress.
  • Breathe: Use for respiratory support.
  • Lemon: Great for lifting the mood. Degunkifier (whether it’s sticky sap or a congested chest).
  • Frankincense: Use as an immune system booster and pain reliever.

Be sure to check out this page before you buy essential oils to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

And if you need help figuring out what essential oil accessories you might need on your travels, check out this post.

Do you take essential oils with you when you travel? Which ones can you not leave home without?

3 Tips for Eating Healthy While Traveling

3 Tips for Eating Healthy While Traveling

3 Tips for Eating Healthy While Traveling
Image by Key Foster

Traveling can be great fun; there are such amazing things to experience in this world, from the Aurora Borealis to the Egyptian Pyramids to watching the sun set from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

There is so much to be experienced, so many cultures to explore … unfortunately, on the way, you will encounter much of the same fast food culture that surrounds us now.

It can be challenging to eat healthy when you’re traveling – after hundreds of miles, moaning children and delays, stopping into a Burger King along the way begins to seem like a pretty good idea (I know, I’ve been there.)

But for the same amount of money, and only a little more preparation, you can set yourselves up with some food that will keep you energized and awake while giving you the chance to see the more interesting sides of the places you’re visiting.

Preparation is key in these circumstances.

Start the Day Right

Say you’re planning a long road trip with the kids – the first thing you will want to do is ensure you have a good breakfast.

It’s easier to feed them something really quick, like cereal, but something more hearty like oatmeal and smoothies, or sourdough toast with peanut butter and hardboiled eggs will keep them going longer.

Don’t Forget the Water

The night before you leave, put as many of your reusable bottles of water in the freezer as you can, ensuring that you won’t go thirsty. There’s also a good chance you can find somewhere along the way to fill them up.

Remember that while the sugar of fizzy drinks might give you a temporary energy-boost, water won’t make you crash later, will stave off headaches and tiredness, and doesn’t make a mess when spilled! (Bonus points for that last one.)

Snack Smart

Pre-portioned packs of fruit and nuts are easy to sort yourself the night before, as are salads and cold pastas.

Don’t want to spend the whole time snacking? A great way to reduce your snacking urges is to stick to your normal eating schedule.

If you eat later than usual you might be inclined to overindulge – or be forced to get whatever food you can while on the move.

A Special Note for Air Travel

With this in mind think ahead and instead of buying food from the airport before flights, bring easy to eat food like hard boiled eggs and sunflower seeds.

Small, regular portions of protein will stop you from becoming ravenous on the plane. If you’re a meat-eater, jerky’s a good snack and remember that meat requires more time and energy to digest than other foods, making you more sleepy in the long run (great for prompting a nap on a plane).

The most important tip though? Drink plenty of water. It sounds simple, but you will need more water than usual on your trip to reduce your likelihood of headaches, tiredness and dehydration.

So while you’re traveling, skip the stuffy restaurants and pick a beautiful place to sit and eat your home-made lunch – it’s about the journey, after all, not the destination.

How do you make sure to eat healthy while traveling?

Big Family, Small Space: Our Bus Update


Late last year, I mentioned that we decided to move into a bus. I’ve been trying to get Ian to move into an RV for a few years now, since discovering the Walk Slowly, Live Wildly blog. I love the idea of traveling with my family. And I thought it would make home school more interesting if we could actually visit the places we’re learning about.

He thought I was crazy.

However, he conceded after we watched the documentary I’m Fine, Thanks (featuring my friends, Matt and Betsy Jabs from diyNatural), which included an interview of a family that lived in a school bus. What made him say yes? They had 6 kids. (Well, that helped, anyway).

So, a few weeks after agreeing to my crazy plan, Ian and my brother drove to Idaho to pick up our school bus. I experienced feelings of giddiness and disbelief as he pulled up and thought to myself, “Oh my gosh, we own a school bus. I’ve lost my mind. What was I thinking? This is awesome!”

But … it was hideous, y’all.

Seriously. Whoever converted the bus into an RV was a huge fan of brown paneling (which he fixed into place with glue, nails and screws). And cigarettes. So we had to gut our home school bus.

And this is what she looks like right now:

So what are our plans? First, we need to finish it up. Last weekend, we moved back out to my parents’ place so we could get the bus done.

Nothing lights a fire under your butt like cramming six people into a 25 foot travel trailer. Except that, we don’t really feel crammed, which means our bus is going to feel huge (at least, that’s what I keep telling myself 😉 ).

Once it’s done, we’ll hit the road. Some wonderful friends have offered to let us park at their place on the coast, and we have some great friends in Colorado we’d love to see again. That’s what we’re thinking so far (right, honey?).

We’ll see where the adventure takes us.

For more pics of the bus, you can check out my Flickr stream and follow me on Instagram. And see our latest update here.

6 Simple Tips for Traveling With Kids


I attended a conference this summer and one night sat down to dinner with three women I had just met. All international travelers, they took turns sharing stories and I was entranced by the adventures they’d had – they were so much greater than my own.

And then I shared about the adventure we had just returned from – a 2,000 mile drive with our 4 small children to camp, enjoy the sights and hang out with family.

They were shocked that I had four kids, let alone took them on adventures.

That’s when I realized that while we haven’t visited Africa (yet), adventure and travel is a priority in our family. And it can be done, whether you have 1, 4 or 7 children. You just have to remember a few things.

1. Practice

Our kids can be a little, um, noisy. Especially at night. We were concerned about this, so we thought we’d practice.

Before our yurting trip on the coast, we stayed in a yurt overnight in a local campground so that we all had an idea of what to expect. We practiced for tent trips in our backyard, explaining that we needed to be quiet because tent walls are so thin. (We were tempted to get a huge, multi-room tent because our family is so big, but this 6-person tent gives us plenty of space.)

2. Start Small

If selling all your stuff and traveling the country in an RV or backpacking through Europe with your family sounds like a dream, practice it first.

Borrow or rent an RV and go on a trip a few hours from home. Do the same with backpacking gear (don’t overdo it!) and hit a local spot for some hiking and camping. That way, you can prepare yourself (and the kids) and figure out what you’ll need on an extended trip.

3. Pack Light

Before gravitating toward minimalism, I’d pack an outfit or two for each day we’d be gone. Now, I try to stick to 3 outfits max (toddlers get a little more). I’ve discovered that because we’re living out of a duffel bag, we usually grab what’s on top and wear it over and over. We also visit places where we know we can do laundry. (Read about how I stopped overpacking here.)

4. Be Prepared

That said, we have essentials that must come with us. Snacks, stainless steel water bottles for each person and certain multi-purpose remedies (find my top 7 natural camping essentials here) are at the top of the list. Most melt downs are caused by someone who’s hungry, thirsty or hurt, so I try to cover those bases.

5. Set Realistic Expectations

On our latest adventure, my husband’s dad wanted us to drive 4.5 hours to his house and then drive 14 hours straight to our destination.

We knew doing that would make us crazy, our kids antsy and take the fun out of the trip. Instead, we left two days early, camped overnight, and made lots of potty, coffee and exploration breaks. It took us a lot longer to get there, but we actually enjoyed the journey and our beautiful surroundings.

6. Have Fun

Once you have realistic expectations for your adventure, it’s much easier to relax and have fun. After all, isn’t that the point? For us, this means having a few ideas of things we’d like to do, but mostly it means leaving our days open to spontaneity.

What tips can you share about traveling with kids? 

7 Natural Camping Essentials I Won’t Leave Home Without

7 Natural Camping Essentials I Won’t Leave Home Without

Image by Photo Monkey

Want to get a great shocked reaction from someone? Tell them that you just drove 2,000 miles over the course of one week to go camping in Montana. Oh, and tell them that you did it with four small children. (You know, unless that’s not true for you).

That’s what we did recently (sorry I didn’t post while I was gone, turns out my laptop doesn’t like 105 degree weather) and we had a great time.

We swam, cleaned dinosaur bones at the Dino Lab and enjoyed delicious food and micro brews with family.

Naturally, driving all that way requires some careful planning to maximize space. If something was going with us, it needed to be important.

I thought I’d share with you the natural remedies that were important enough to make the cut in our minimalist packing plan (as well as some that I wish I’d taken along).

1. Mosquito repellent

The best way to take care of mosquito bites is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Thankfully, you can easily make an effective repellent in about an hour.

  • Take 1/4 cup yarrow flowers and 1/4 cup lavender flowers. Put them in 4 cups water, bring it to a boil and then turn off the heat. Let it steep for an hour, strain and put in a spray bottle. Add 10 drops lavender essential oil.

This worked great for us while we were in Montana. You know, when we remembered to put it on…

One of these friendly guys tugged on Isaiah’s shorts. Should I have made animal repellent?

2. Frankincense essential oil

Bee stings, insect bites or minor wounds, frankincense essential oil helps it all. I’ve seen it immediately diminish the pain of a bee sting. And I’ve used it myself on itchy mosquito bites for instant relief. Keep some in your purse so you always have it on hand.

3. Sunscreen

If we’re going to be outside for less than an hour, I don’t apply sunscreen. There, I said it. It’s not that I think sunscreen is bogus, I just want my body to produce vitamin D.

Using sunscreen to protect from the sun’s harmful rays may not be a good trade-off. Sunscreen doesn’t protect against melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer and using a sunscreen with as little as SPF15 cuts the skin’s vitamin D production by 99 percent, leading to deficiency. ” Dr. Tenpenny

However, if I know we’ll be out in the sun for a while, I’ll put on a layer of natural sunscreen. Sunburns suck.

4. Aloe vera

In the event of a sunburn, aloe vera is very soothing and feels amazing on hot skin. If you have an aloe plant, you can snip off a piece, put it in container and bring it along. You can also find bottled aloe vera gel in most stores in case you forget your plant or don’t have one.

Cleaning rock off of a sauropod femur

5. First aid ointment

Herbal healing balm is one of the first things I pack when I go anywhere, especially camping. With all of the sticks and rocks and things to climb on, someone’s bound to need it (usually moi).

6. Yarrow

Got an old spice shaker that you don’t use? Repurpose it as a yarrow dispenser. Simply fill it with yarrow flowers and shake them out on cuts and scrapes to stop bleeding. Once the bleeding stops, clean off the area and apply your first aid ointment.

7. Coconut oil

This is one of my favorite multi-purpose foods. It’s great for camping because you can use it for cooking as well as body care. Coconut oil goes on my face instead of moisturizer, my arms and legs instead of lotion and a very tiny bit as a frizz tamer for the beast atop my head (I have extremely thick, coarse, wavy hair that has a mind of its own).

I suggest packing it in container that you know won’t leak, as it will melt if you’re some place hot.

What are your natural camping essentials?


Lessons Learned at the Zoo

Photo credit: Diego3336

It was a little past noon and I was starting to feel a little shaky. Breakfast had been small and I had not packed a lunch. And we had not been at the zoo long enough for me to think about leaving yet. Normally I would reach into my backpack and pull out some almonds or an apple for a snack, but alas, I didn’t have it.

Reluctantly, I headed to the AfriCafe and purchased some ridiculously expensive hot dogs.

I learned two lessons last Saturday. 1) The zoo is making a killer profit on hot dogs. 2) It really pays to be prepared.

What to take to the zoo:


If you plan on going to the zoo more than once per year, I recommend purchasing a membership. Especially if you have a large family. When that isn’t an option, though, see if any of your friends have a zoo membership and tag along with them.

Ian’s sister has a membership that allows one guest to go with them for free. And the Portland zoo also gives a 20% discount on admission when the member says they have additional guests. Thanks to the awesome ticket lady for that tip.


Bring easy foods like nuts, fruit – both dried and fresh, trail mix, crackers and jerky for snacks. If you’ll be there near lunch time, pack a picnic lunch. Also bring plenty of water for everyone in a reusable water bottle or Camel-bak (probably my favorite way to take extra water). If you don’t, you can look forward to corn dogs that cost $2.95 or a $5 salad. No thank you; lesson learned.


As in a stroller or wagon or something to put the littles in when they get tired of walking. Because we saved so much money on our admission, I rented a double stroller to haul kids around in. At $9 with a $20 deposit, I was extremely hesitant to do it, though. This was the second most expensive lesson learned on this zoo trip.


We usually take a small backpack with us on outings. It’s a messenger style bag and very low-profile so it’s easy to put in essentials and prevents us from taking too much stuff we won’t need. Use it for snacks, diapers, your camera and to store extra layers.

Realistic expectations

When you go to the zoo once a year, it’s tempting to approach it with a “we will see everything this zoo has to offer” attitude. Sometimes, that’s just not realistic. Especially with four small children. Decide ahead of time the two or three exhibits you really want to see and make a point to hit those first.

If everyone is still doing fine (no meltdowns, accidents or tired kids or adults), then go to another exhibit. But take it one at a time and be prepared to leave if it stops being fun. This makes membership even more appealing. Hmmm, I think I know what I want for Christmas.

What preparations do you make to ensure a pleasant outing?