6 Best Essential Oils To Help You On Your Summer Travels

July 7, 2017
Anna-Ok/getty

It’s that time of year to hit the ground running…or flying, or driving, or boating. With your summer travel plans in the works, don’t forget to pack essential oils. Yes, you heard us right. Those tiny vials pack in super potent plant extracts that can make over your hotel room as well as your mood, take the sting out of bug bites and sunburns, and even get your out of whack sleep and digestion back on track. (Speaking of which, here are 5 herbs and supplements that can seriously improve your digestion.)

“Throwing yourself in a different environments is really tough on the body,” says Hope Gillerman, founder and formulator of H. Gillerman Organics and author of Essential Oils Every Day. “Essential oils can help you deal with what’s going on in the moment.”

We turned to the experts to find out the must-pack essential oils for your travels, no matter where your summer adventures take you.

(Like what you're reading? Sign up for our newsletter to get health insights, clever kitchen tricks, gardening secrets, and more—delivered straight to your inbox.)

Scroll to Item
1/6 kazmulka/getty

Pack: Peppermint

You won’t regret packing peppermint. The minty multi-tasker can cool you down in hot climates (dilute a few drops in a carrier oil such as grapeseed, jojoba, or olive oil and rub on the back of your neck), banish bloating and kickstart digestion (dilute in a carrier oil and smooth a few drops in a clockwise circle around your belly button), and even add pep to your step. A dab directly on skin, applied with a cotton swab, can also relieve annoying bug bites, or add a few drops to a foot soak if you’ve been on your feet all day. Great for road trips, one study found that peppermint scent can boost a driver’s alertness. Add a few drops to a car infuser (this one clips on to any car vent) and breathe happy.

Buy it: Aetos Organic Peppermint Essential Oil

Pro tip: Don't leave essential oils in your car. Heat causes oils to degrade. Store in a cool, dark place out of direct sunlight.

Scroll to Item
2/6 botamochi/getty

Pack: Lavender

“When in doubt, use lavender,” says Mindy Green, MS, RA, RH, aromatherapist and herbalist in Boulder, CO. “It’s great for bug bites, bee stings, bumps, bruises, and minor scrapes.” For small applications, like bug bites, apply lavender oil directly to the skin with a cotton swab; when using it on larger areas of the body, dilute in a carrier oil first. A true multi-tasker, the calming oil can also work as a chill pill for anxious fliers, ease headaches and relieve sunburns.  Research shows the floral aroma can even treat insomnia and improve sleep quality. If you’re tossing and turning, tuck a lavender-infused cotton ball under your pillow.

Buy it: Aetos Organic Lavender Essential Oil

Pro tip: Don't pack essential oils in checked luggage. “I wrap the bottle in tissue and a tiny ziplock bag in case it leaks and keep it in my purse. You never know when you might need it,” says Green.

Related: 7 Cool Things We Never Knew Lavender Could Do

Scroll to Item
3/6 5PH/getty

Pack: Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)

Traveling can bring out your inner crank faster than you can say delayed flight. Lighten up with this light and zingy scent. “Mandarin has a beautiful aroma that lifts the spirit and acts as a mild sedative to the nervous system,” says Stacey Moss, creator of Moss Botanicals, who brings undiluted mandarin oil along to diffuse in her rental car and hotel. If you don’t have a diffuser, use a few drops on a cotton ball or handkerchief and inhale when needed. The citrus scent can also be combined with water to de-stink a musty hotel room (add 36 drops to a 2-ounce spray bottle—here's how to make a DIY room spray).

Buy it: Aura Cacia Mandarin Essential Oil

Pro tip: Don't forget to pack your favorite unscented lotion or jojoba oil. For every 1 ounce oil use 18 drops essential oil, suggests Moss: “This can then be used as a refreshing body massage.”

Related: 12 Travel-Sized Natural Beauty Products To Bring On Your Next Trip

Scroll to Item
4/6 Olgaorly/getty

Pack: Geranium

Jumping time zones not only messes with your sleep cycle, it can throw your hormones and even your menstrual cycle off. Enter geranium, a balancing oil that can get out-of-whack hormones back on track. A 2017 study showed that geranium oil can raise estrogen levels in perimenopausal women. Anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, geranium oil is both healing and regenerative for the skin, which comes in handy whether you’re dueling dry cabin air, high temps, or pollution. Make a hydrating facial toner by mixing 2 ounces aloe vera juice and 18 drops geranium oil in a spray bottle. Bonus: The floral scent can also keep insects away.

Buy it: Aura Cacia Organic Geranium Essential Oil

Pro tip: Keep your eyes closed if misting the face, says Green. 

Related: 8 Foods That Help You Fall Asleep Fast

Scroll to Item
5/6 amazon

Pack: Litsea Cubeba (aka: May Chang)

Jet lag have you down? Take a whiff of Litsea Cubeba. Like most citrus oils, it has a clean, uplifting scent that can refresh and energize, plus studies have shown it can bring on the calm. “It’s a very balancing oil,” says Gillerman. “Apply diluted litsea on legs and hips day of departure for its diuretic effect and on neck and shoulders during flight to ease anxiety and balance emotions.”

Buy it: Plant Guru Listea Cubeba Essential Oil

Pro tip: Don't use listea by itself undiluted. Try Gillerman’s multi-use blend: 40 drops organic lavender, 6 drops organic mandarin and 4 drops wild-crafted litsea mixed with 2 ounces jojoba oil or another carrier oil.

Scroll to Item
6/6 Olgaorly/getty

Pack: Ginger

Planes, trains, and automobiles aren’t doing your motion sickness any favors. Inhale this: Studies show a whiff of ginger can quell nausea and vomiting without any of the side effects that come with over-the-counter meds. Just put a few drops on a cotton ball or washcloth and inhale as needed. Ginger is also known as an energizing scent that can pick up your mood and kick-start a sluggish digestive system.

Buy it: Aura Cacia Fresh Ginger Essential Oil

Pro tip: Don't worry if you can’t remember how to use an essential oil—“simply inhaling it straight from the bottle will create a physiological and psychological effect immediately,” says Moss. 

Related: 7 Surprising Benefits Of Eating More Ginger (Goodbye, Migraine!)

Outbrain