1 way to stay healthy while traveling


Traveling can be hard on your body. Between hopping from city to city, lugging heavy backpacks/luggage over cobblestone roads, being constantly exposed to the elements and new environments (not to forget new germs), or not sleeping enough for several nights on end – it can be wearing on your body.

Me and my sister’s 14-day trip to Europe was not lacking of stress. Throughout the trip we:

  • Made 3 mad dashes to avoid missing any trains (it was close)
  • Survived a mini hurricane in Edinburgh
  • Survived a thunderstorm in Rome
  • Dragged our butts out of bed sleep-deprived

My Secret Weapon

Naturally we started feeling off the weather. But no fear – I brought my secret medicine!

Over-the-counter medications are yucky. I find they only suppress my symptoms. Sometimes they don’t even do a good job! For example, NyQuil makes me drowsy and dries up my nasal passages. Then it ceases to work, and I feel crappy as ever.

Karl (my sweet ginger kitty) helps me stay healthy by giving oodles of love and happiness, but the secret weapon I’m talking about is the large mason jar of Elderberry Syrup

Ever since I discovered this secret medicine, I haven’t had a bad illness for years. This means something coming from someone who’d catch a flu if anyone so much as sneezed in the same room. I used to have a weak disposition and fell sick 3-4 times a year.

Not anymore. I swear by my secret remedy.

Ok, it’s not so secret because I sing its praises to anyone who would listen.

That secret is: Elderberry Syrup.

Over a year ago I googled “Natural flu remedies” and Wellness Mama popped up. I love her site; it’s full of helpful information for natural living sans drugs.

Elderberry Syrup is comprised of dried berries from the Sambucis Nigra plant, aka. Elderberries. It’s super simple and cost-effective to make your own.

Related Post:   11 Tips for Surviving Rome

I use Wellness Mama’s recipe and buy organic dried Elderberries from Amazon. They cost $16-20, come in a 1-pound pack, and last forever. I can make 4-5 batches with every pack I buy, which is a great deal because good store-bought syrups cost $20 for a tiny bottle – and the store-bought stuff doesn’t even work as well. (Also, it tastes too sickly sweet.)

This recipe only requires 5 simple ingredients (plus water) and less than 30 minutes to make. Plus it tastes delicious.


  • ⅔ cup dried black elderberries (about 3 ounces)
  • 3½ cups of water
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh or dried ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • ½ teaspoon cloves or clove powder
  • 1 cup raw honey (we get from our farmer’s market)


  1. Pour water into medium saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves (do not add honey!)
  2. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half. At that point, remove from heat and let cool enough to be handled. Mash the berries carefully using a spoon or other flat utensil. Pour through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl.
  3. Discard the elderberries (or compost them!) and let the liquid cool to lukewarm. When it is no longer hot, add 1 cup of honey and stir well.
  4. When honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a pint sized mason jar or 16 ounce glass bottle of some kind.
  5. Ta Da! You just made homemade elderberry syrup! Store in the fridge and take daily for its immune boosting properties. Some sources recommend taking only during the week and not on the weekends to boost immunity.
  6. Standard dose is ½ tsp to 1 tsp for kids and ½ Tbsp to 1 Tbsp for adults. If the flu does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear.
Related Post:   11 Tips for Surviving Rome

Recipe from Wellness Mama.

So our secret weapon during our 14-day trip was 2 small bottles of Elderberry Syrup. I was worried it wouldn’t keep well while we were on the road, but the raw honey in the recipe did a great job of preserving the syrup. We made sure to pop the bottles into a refrigerator whenever we were able.

When we felt off the weather (and that happened 4-5 times during that 2 weeks – we’d get sore throats) we’d take generous gulps of the syrup. You cannot overdose on this stuff. If you want to prevent illness you can take 1/2-1 Tbsp per day. If flu does strike you can take 1 Tbsp every 2-3 hours until symptoms disappear. We just gulped the stuff.

So that’s it! Simple, huh?

Other Tips for Staying Healthy

  • Stay hydrated. Always have a bottle of water with you.
  • Try to eat healthy – add vegetables/fruits to your meals, limit sugar intake, avoid sweet drinks and fatty foods
  • Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night (but I know that’s hard when traveling)
  • Travel light so you don’t tax yourself lugging luggage

Have you tried Elderberry Syrup? Do you have a secret weapon for warding off illness while traveling? Isn’t Karl the cutest kitty ever?

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Lydia lives to eat, travel, take photos and write. She loves finding the answer to: “So what is the story behind this?“ She lives in California, USA with her husband and 3 fluffy mongrels (cats). In her free time, she enjoys daydreaming about traveling the world, and working hard on turning it into reality. Read more about her here.