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Tips for Flying with Essential Oils

Taking Aromatherapy With You on the Plane

With restrictions placed on carrying liquids on the plane, the easiest way to take aromatherapy on board a flight is to just take essential oils that have already been absorbed into a tissue, wipe, handkerchief, cotton ball, wick, or a decorative clay or terra-cotta pendant, where they can be taken out and inhaled or used to wipe down a surface as needed. Since there are no restrictions for the amount of liquid packed in a checked bag, you can still take your oils with you to have after you land.

If you still do want to carry the essential oils or other liquids on the flight with you, it is best if you know the rules:

Carrying Liquids on U.S. Flights (3-1-1 Rule)

In the United States, the TSA has imposed what it calls the 3-1-1 rule for carrying liquids on board an airplane with you. Simply put, this rule states that all liquids must be in containers that hold 3 liquid ounces or less and all the containers with liquids being carried on must be contained in 1 closed zip-top plastic bag that is 1-quart (or smaller) in size. That zip-top bag must also be pulled out of carry-on bags to be screened separately when going through security. This rule covers any type of liquid, lotion, paste, cream, or gel. This rule does make a few exceptions for baby and medical supplies (see for more details on exemptions to this rule) but pretty much covers any type of essential oil, massage oil, liquid soap, shampoo, toothpaste, lotion, beverage, liquid or gelled food (such as jams and cake frosting), and even gel shoe inserts.

If you don’t want to check your baggage or desire to keep your essential oils or other liquids with you on board the plane, you may wish to condense these liquids into smaller glass or plastic containers in order to maximize the variety of liquid items you can carry with you. A few ways for doing this include:

- Place essential oils in smaller 5 ml or 5/8 dram glass vials, using larger containers for the oils you will use more often.
- Place lotions, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and other personal care liquids, creams, and gels in smaller 1 or 2 oz. containers.
- To bring a small amount of toothpaste with you, squeeze the toothpaste into a small container.

Dealing With Pressurized Cabin Air

The pressurized air that is recycled through an airplane cabin can often feel stale and dry and can intensify any feelings of airsickness that may arise. To help counteract these effects, try bringing either a small spray bottle with water and a few drops of peppermint oil to mist the air around you, or make your own moisturizing wipes to wipe down your face, neck, and arms.


According to the book Modern EssentialsDigestive Blend, ginger, peppermint, and lavender essential oils can be effective at counteracting the feelings of motion sickness that can arise on flights when one or more are applied to the feet, temples, and wrists. Inhaling the scent of peppermint oil from a tissue, inhaler, or aromatic pendant can also help calm feelings of nausea.

Disinfecting/Sanitizing (seats, luggage handles, etc.)

As with any situation where many people share a confined space, there is always a much higher probability of coming in contact with other people’s germs while you are flying. The most likely places you will come in contact with these germs will be places others' hands have touched, such as on armrests, trays, in-flight literature, lavatory handles, seat belts, call buttons, and luggage handles. For a quick disinfecting, wipes that have been pre-prepared with an antimicrobial oil or oil blend, such as Protective Blend, can be used to wipe down areas you will likely be touching constantly or to wipe off and disinfect your hands before eating or touching your face. Some antimicrobial oils or blends are On Guard, melaleuca, clove, oregano, thyme, cinnamon, helichrysum, peppermint, Cleansing Blend, and lime.

Calming Children

Sitting in a confined place for a long time can often be trying for young children. To help them calm down, Valerie Worwood recommends in her book, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, using a massage oil made with 15 drops of chamomile in 2 tablespoons of a carrier oil. Massage a small amount on the child's legs and feet. Other oils that are good for calming include lavender, Roman chamomile, Focus Blend, ylang ylang, and Calming Blend.

Jet Lag

Jet lag often occurs after flying to different areas of the world, especially areas whose time difference is drastically different than the one left. It is experienced as the body's internal clock adjusts to the new daytime and nighttime schedule. It is recommended to drink lots of fluids and to avoid alcohol or caffeine while flying to help prevent jet lag. Avoiding naps and forcing yourself to stay awake until your normal bedtime the first day can also help the body recover more quickly.

The Modern Essentials recommends using invigorating oils such as peppermint and eucalyptus in the morning and calming oils such as lavender and geranium at night. Dilute as recommended and apply 1-2 drops to temples, thymus, lower back, and bottoms of feet. You can also dilute with carrier oil and and massage onto back or add a couple drops to a relaxing bath before bedtime. Grounding Blend is a good blend to rub on the feet both morning and night.

Additional Tips & Testimonials

- "I always take peppermint with me when I fly. I just rub a drop of peppermint on the back of my ears to relieve pressure. With peppermint, my ears don't hurt at all!" - Sheliese (Spanish Fork, UT)

- "Take lemon along to drop a few drops in water...not only gives it flavor but can be a natural diuretic so you don't retain water on the plane." - Colleen Sparks

- "I always take a small 5/8 dram vialof [Protective Blend] with me on the airplane... once I'm seated, a drop of [Protective Blend] in my hands and a deep breath will help me relax, kill any germs I may have picked up in the airport, and boost my immune system so I don't get sick after the flight. Another tip: adjust the air vent so it isn't blowing on your face. Recycled air means recycled germs...." - Chryssa Jones (Moreno Valley, CA)

- "Mix a few drops of lavender and [Protective Blend] oil with a little fractionated coconut oil and put in a tiny container. Apply to pulse area before flight and on particularly long flights, every couple of hours during flight. May not be necessary to refresh as the lavender will ensure that you sleep soundly! [Protective Blend] helps to keep flight borne bugs and typical germs that are in abundance when in a crowded and air conditioned environment such as a packed aircraft. I also take [Respiratory Blend] (to avoid congestion that usually accompanies air conditioned environments) and melaleuca (for incidentals, e.g. scratches that come with lugging heavy luggage etc. and for wiping down publicly used items on aircraft/seating area, e.g. remotes, seat adjustment buttons, etc.)." - Colette Maat (Paraparumu, Wellington, New Zealand)

- "Two items that I never travel without are 2 ounce sprays of [Protective Blend] mixed with pure water and a lavender peppermint spray also with pure water. I spritz in the airport, airplane and anywhere I am. I have gotten many comments from fellow travelers on the wonderful scent of them, especially the [Protective Blend]." - Meri Radar (Rock Springs, WY)

- "I always put two drops of [Protective Blend] on my AromaTools pendant before I board a plane. It protects me from the recycled air on the plane! I haven't gotten sick since implementing this solution! I also always bring Lavender and [Digestive Blend] with me. I have been able to help neighbors with cranky or sick children to the relief of all passengers :-)" - Cindy Coons (Rochester, NY)

- "I was on a flight this spring when my ears had so much pressure in them and it wouldn't go away. I tried chewing gum and yawning, but the pain was getting worse to the point I was about to cry. I put frankincense oil behind my ear bone and lobes and within about 5 seconds the pressure was gone. I always take it with me on every trip." - Caren Melancon

- "I make a homemade hand sanitizer in a small squeeze bottle with aloe vera gel, water and any antibacterial oil like [Protective Blend], lavender, lemon, or peppermint and wild orange. That way I'm prepared to keep hands and surfaces clean, and share it around too!" - Tayma McClain (Palmer, AK)

- "Mix a small spray bottle, the glass mini one, with water and [Protective Blend], and spray the tray, the arm rests and anything else that has been touched by hundreds of people. Wipe and there is much lesser chance for you to get sick. Also a small sprayer of a mix of lavender, clary sage and [Calming Blend] to use on longer trips to fall asleep." - Martina Webster

- "I travel every 6-8 weeks to visit my family in NY. The last 2 flights got a little rocky and I found myself feeling a little queasy. I put a drop of peppermint oil on the outside of my nostrils and started breathing it in and the queasiness went away. Today I was flying again. A young girl was sitting next to me and she wasn't feeling well. I put a drop of peppermint on her hand and I had her cup her hand and breathe in deeply. Within seconds she felt better." - Arlene Cohen (Far Rockaway, NY)

- "Until I started using essential oils, I always suffered from motion sickness on any trip by land, sea or air. Now I can travel without OTC medications or a prescription! Ginger has been a lifesaver. I like to apply a drop to my wrists and behind my ears, but even smelling it straight from the bottle eases my queasiness." - Amy Gouker

- "Bring your [Soothing Rub] packets or squirt some into a balm container. It's nice to have when you have some aches acting up on a plane with totally uncomfortable seats. Most of the people are uncomfortable, so it's nice to share a little." - Fawn Martinsen

- "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)

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