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Essential Oils for Car Travel

Traveling by car for an extended period of time can become exhausting for everyone, especially during the heat of the summer. We have compiled some tips we have learned for using essential oils to make car travel a more enjoyable experience.

Taking Aromatherapy with You in the Car

Since space is limited, and things can easily become lost under a seat or in the clutter that inevitably happens during long car trips (especially on trips with small children), a little organization and planning can help keep your essential oil necessities accessible and ready to use the moment they are needed. To keep them handy, you can try some of the following:

Staying Alert

Keeping the constant vigilance needed to safely drive and arrive at your destination requires an alert mind. According to the book Modern Essentials, peppermint, ylang ylang, lemon, basil, and rosemary essential oils applied to the temples and bottoms of feet may help with alertness. Diffusing invigorating oils such as these in the car can also help. Carol Schiller and David Schiller also recommend in their book, 500 Formulas for Aromatherapy, using small 4 oz. spray bottles with an invigorating blend of essential oils (such as 110 drops peppermint, 35 drops cinnamon, 35 drops lime, and 20 drops patchouli in 4 oz. of water) to mist in the car to help keep the driver alert (being careful not to spray this mixture around the eyes) (p. 86). If the driver is feeling very tired, he or she should stop driving and take a break.

Car Sickness

In order to help alleviate the motion sickness that many people experience during car trips, Kurt Schnaubelt recommends using a drop of peppermint oil placed on a sugar cube and then eaten. He also recommends scenting the air in the car with a few drops of peppermint to lengthen the stomach-calming effect of the peppermint oil (Advanced Aromatherapy, p. 104). It can also help to keep looking outside, to open a window to get fresh air into the car, or to close your eyes until the feelings of sickness subside. Oils that help with car sickness are peppermint, Digestive Blend, and ginger.

Staying Cool and Refreshed

While traveling during the summer months, especially when the car has been parked in the hot sun for a while, even a good air conditioner in the car doesn’t always work fast enough to keep you cool. Several essential oils that have a cooling effect include peppermint, eucalyptus, melaleuca, lavender, Roman chamomile, and citrus oils (Modern Essentials). Diffuse these oils in the car, place a few drops in a small spray bottle filled with water to spray in the car (being careful not to spray close to people’s eyes), or create your own cooling wipes to use on the skin. You can also try adding a drop of peppermint to a glass or metal water bottle filled with water and drink slowly. If you don’t have a glass or metal water bottle, try putting a drop of peppermint or a peppermint beadlet in your mouth; then as the oil fills your mouth, drink it down with water. Because some oils can break down plastic materials, especially thin plastics often used in making disposable water bottles, it is best to avoid putting oils in plastic water bottles.

Keeping Children Busy and Calm

Those who have traveled with young children know that it can be challenging keeping their attention focused on things other than how long and boring it is sitting in the same position for so long. Books, travel games, and portable video players are often used to help alleviate this boredom; but activities such as these that keep eyes focused on one spot inside the car can often lead to feelings of car sickness in many people. Click here for some car games that can help keep young eyes focused outside the car and thinking about other things.

If children are having a hard time calming down in the car, some essential oils that may help include lavender, bergamot, myrrh, ylang ylang, rose, Roman chamomile, and Calming Blend. These oils can be used in a massage oil, a wipe, or in a personal inhaler.

Additional Tips & Testimonials

  • “I live in Southern California, and traffic jams are pretty common here. Citrus oils in the car help take the edge off the frustration and anxiety I feel when I’m sitting in traffic and puts me in a better mood.” – Chryssa Jones (Moreno Valley, CA)
  • “Peppermint, wild orange, & frankincense….diffused is AWESOME for staying alert and awake on long drives! Also, great in a handy little inhaler. Perfect for all night drives or even just a pick me up.” – Mindy Hoggan
  • “I’m in Las Vegas, and our summer heat can get pretty brutal! I have a thermal tote embroidered with “oil junkie” in the front that I keep my oil carrying case in. I always add a small ice pack in these 110–115 temps!” – Desiree Deittrick Perdichizzi
  • “We keep peppermint and lavender handy in the car for dealing with motion sickness. We also use peppermint to cool us down when we get too hot. (TX can be brutal!) And the lavender works great when the children get too rowdy! We also keep wild orange handy to add to the peppermint when the driver starts feeling tired!” – Melissa Hall Loughney (Beeville, TX)
  • “I put ginger behind the ears of myself and the kids who suffer from motion sickness, and it works great.” – Marnie Ellis
  • A car diffuser is a must for road trips! Change the scent pads with oils in your keychain set. ;)” – Nicole Sternad (Billings, MT)
  • “If you need a mood shift on a long road trip, put a drop or two of lemon or wild orange on a cotton ball and place on the front windshield vents. Works for our 2 and 4 1/2 year olds every time!” – Toni Kuo Weijola (Appleton, WI)
  • “Lavender goes on my daughter. She HATES the car seat and will cry the whole trip unless I put a little lavender on her and she instantly mellows out.” – Kayla Leib (Spokane, WA)

If you have a tip or experience you would like to share, please comment below!

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