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#1 – Probiotics
No matter where you are planning to spend your family vacation, taking probiotics are essential. But, this is especially true if you are heading to an exotic island or out of the country. In fact, the most important item you will have in your suitcase is a bottle of probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that keep your gut healthy and strong, thus boosting your immune system. You should begin taking probiotics at least one week before your trip, take them every day of your trip, and continue taking them one week after returning home. Since probiotics populate your gut with beneficial bacteria, your body will be protected if it encounters any foreign microbes (bacteria, parasites, etc.), especially from exotic cuisines. If your GI tract is not adequately defended, you are more likely to experience illnesses like the dreaded traveler’s diarrhea. On the other hand, if you keep the beneficial bacteria colonies in your gut flourished, the chances of suffering digestive imbalances from foreign pathogens is significantly decreased. So, unless you’re planning on spending your time in the hotel bathroom, be sure to take probiotics on your trip!
When selecting a probiotic, try to choose one that contains both the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species of bacteria. Lactobacilli prefer the ileum section of the small intestine while Bifidobacteria do best in the large intestine. Take the dosage recommended on the manufacturer’s bottle and double up on your dose if you begin to experience any type of stomach upset – indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, etc. While some probiotics are to be kept cold, you’ll need the kind that requires no refrigeration on your trip.
#2 – Oregano Oil
Oregano oil is another crucial supplement you’ll want to put high on your travel packing list. Not only does oregano oil contain healthy nutrients such as omega-3 and fiber, it is also a potent broad-spectrum antimicrobial, providing protection against bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. It guards against infiltration both within the body as well as the physical environment. This includes bed bugs, lice, fleas and mosquitoes.
Oregano oil also protects against giardia, a common amoeba found throughout the world. In fact, there are more than 200 million people infected with Giardia each year. In one study, oregano oil proved to be more effective at treating Giardia than the commonly prescribed drug, tinidazol.
Like probiotics, oregano oil can also protect against food-borne pathogens and the dreaded case of food poisoning. In vitro studies have demonstrated antibacterial activity of oregano against some of the most common food-borne pathogens including Listeria, Salmonella, E-Coli, and Shigella dysenteria (causes dysentery). And, oregano oil can help treat common symptoms of food-borne illness – nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating and/or indigestion.
Nobody likes to catch a cold or the flu or other respiratory illness while on vacation. Blowing your nose all the time is the last thing you want! At the very first sign that illness is coming on, get going on the recommended dosage of oregano for acute infections and you may very well stop that oncoming infection in its tracks. At the very least, you may be able to shorten its duration and lessen its symptoms.
For traveling, oregano oil capsules are the most convenient. You’ll need to take approximately 500 mg, four times per day, to achieve the antimicrobial benefits in an acute infection or illness. For prevention purposes (to not get sick in the first place), a dosage of 50 mg once or twice daily is recommended. Because oregano is a potent antibacterial agent, you will need to take it at least one hour away from the time you take your probiotic and double up on the probiotic when taking the higher dosage of oregano for acute infections.
#3 – Multivitamin/multi-mineral
You’ll want to be sure to support your energy levels and immunity while traveling. For your adventures, be sure you place on your travel packing list a good multivitamin/multi-mineral supplement that contains a combination of B-complex vitamins (for energy) as well as antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium, calcium and zinc. These antioxidants will neutralize free radicals and boost your immune system. Take your vitamins every day of your vacation and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s dosing instructions on the label.
#4 – Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain from the amino acid Tryptophan. It helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle. For the restless traveler, melatonin can promote sleep as well as alleviate jet lag, which is especially helpful when changing time zones. Melatonin is non-habit forming and will not make you feel like a “zombie” the following day like most sedatives and sleeping pills. To reduce the effect of jet lag and reset your biological time clock, take 3 mg of melatonin one hour before bedtime at your destination location. Do that again for the next three nights to help keep you from waking up at 4:00 a.m. and staying wide awake. For regular sleep assistance, take 3 mg of melatonin one hour before bedtime. Do not take more than 3 mg in 24 hours. Also, do not take melatonin with other sleep aids or with alcohol.
Traveling can be a lot of fun… but only if you stay healthy along the way. So be sure to create a travel packing list and most importantly, pack these 4 important supplements for your next trip. By doing so, you can fortify your immune system (and assure a relaxing time). Bon voyage!
 “Oregano (Lippia spp.) kills Giardia intestinalis trophozoites in vitro: antigiard” asic activity and ultrastructural damage.” Parasitol Res. 2006 May;98(6):557-60. Epub 2006 Jan 20.
 “Antioxidant properties of Mediterranean spices compared with common food additives.” J Food Prot 2001 Sep;64(9):1412-9. 2001. PMID:12440.
 “Essential oils: their antibacterial properties and potential applications in foods–a review. Int J Food Microbiol. 2004 Aug 1;94(3):223-53.
Originally published on July 12, 2012 and updated.