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Car Travel Tips

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:

- Place a few essential oils you may use in the car in 5/8 dram vials. Put these small vials in a small zip-top bag or small padded case. Keep this bag or case in the glove-compartment or in a convenient dashboard tray, seat pocket, or cup-holder for quick and easy access.

- Make several types of wipes or tissues and place them in small, zip-top bags, labeled with what they are. Place all of the smaller bags in a larger zip-top bag and place this in the glove-compartment or in a convenient seat pocket where they can be easily accessed.

- Make a car diffuser or use a commercially available car diffuser, battery operated diffuser, or terra cotta air freshener to diffuse different oils throughout your trip.

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 can 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. Some activities that can help keep young eyes focused outside the car and thinking about other things include:

- Wildlife Search: When traveling through areas where animals are likely to be seen, offer small rewards for the first person to see a certain type of animal. You can also offer a reward to the person who sees the most varieties of animals.

- Alphabet Game: When traveling through areas where there are many signs, try to find each letter of the alphabet in order. You can let children work together to see how fast they can complete the alphabet or compete against each other to see who can complete their alphabet first.

- I Spy: This classic game works great when traveling through areas where there are many different things to see but doesn't work so well when traveling through areas where everything is the same (like through a forest or through wheat fields). To play this game, have one player choose an object they see outside the car and then give a clue such as, "I spy something that is red." The other players then try to guess what the object is. The player who first correctly guesses the object gets to choose the next object.

- Trip Memory: This variation of a classic memory game works well when there are a variety of objects to see outside the car. To play, the first player chooses an object outside the car (such as a tree) and then says, "On the way to (wherever you are going), I saw a tree (or whatever object they saw)." The next player then adds a different object that they see by saying, "On the way to Kalamazoo, I saw a tree and a rock." Players continue to add to the list, saying each object on the list in the correct order, until one person makes a mistake. That person is out, and play continues until all players have been eliminated (or you can choose to start over as soon as one person makes a mistake).

- Car Bingo: Make simple bingo cards using objects likely to be seen on a car trip (such as a telephone pole, semi-truck, police car, tree, house, train tracks, etc.) in each of the squares. Have the children mark off each item when they see it. Offer small rewards to those who get bingo or complete their entire card.

Other activities to divert young minds can include singing favorite songs, talking about what their favorite things are (favorite animal, food, movie, etc.), counting objects outside the car (such as trucks, cows, trees, etc.), or taking a nap.

If children are having a hard time calming down in the car, some essential oils that can 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

- "Air or car travel: [Digestive Blend] on the tummy for motion sickness. [Grounding Blend] to keep you grounded as you deal with restless kids and passengers. Packing: Put a drop of lavender in your suitcase so clothes won't smell musty. Also pack an empty spray bottle so you can mix lavender and water to spritz on clothes to smooth the wrinkles out." - Kimberly Packard (San Marcos, CA)

- "We used lavender to keep the kids happy and calm, peppermint for headaches and staying alert during our 15 hr drive (all in one day), cotton balls with [Calming Blend] on them put in front of the car vents, and lemon oil in our water. Love my oils." - Shelly Villaverde

- "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. I also use peppermint & wild orange to improve alertness on a long drive, and use [Calming Blend] (or lavender) to get the kids to settle down. I also use homemade wipes for quick clean-ups, and I always use essential oils when detailing the car to spot-clean upholstery, freshen the carpet, and rejuvenate the trim. If you have a car full of kids that are punching each other before you even get out of the driveway, then [Calming Blend] is your new best friend. Works like a charm." - Chryssa Jones (Moreno Valley, CA)

- "Peppermint, Wild Orange, and [Joyful Blend] are our "go NOWHERE without it" oils when it comes to car travel! It's a "triple whammy" as we call it! Whammy #1: I mix up 3 teaspoons of witch hazel, 3 teaspoons distilled water, 4 tablespoons of pure Aloe Vera, and 6 drops of [Joyful Blend}. I keep it in a glass spray bottle and my husband shakes it and gives his face or arms a spritz when he feels drowsy." - Amanda Jones (Deltona, FL)

- I diffuse [Calming Blend] in my car diffuser to stave off the road rage. Nothing like being calm while dealing with crazy drivers all around me. [Digestive Blend] for the tummy upset of traveling, Lavender to relax from the "Are we there yet?" and [Cleansing Blend] for those nasty smells that you drive past." - Sherilyn Nelson (Las Vegas, NV)

- "[Anti-Aging Blend] is amazing for eye fatigue while driving." - Amy Parker Dunne

- "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 out 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)

- "On a road trip there is nothing to help adjust moods like "Name That Oil!" The front seat passenger, usually me, will take the lid off a bottle and hold it in front of the AC vent for everyone to guess. It only takes a few of the right types of oils to calm the tension or enhance the joy. And it is fun! Once, I handed my husband a bottle of peppermint to use so I could help lull the kids to sleep with [Calming Blend] and lavender." - Linda Fackrell Heywood (Mesa, AZ)

- "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)