The Pack: Melissa Parke Rousseau
Why the artist-herbalist swears by goo in her nose and silver in her ears when she flies.
I’m not a great traveler. I’ve been severely ill for a really long with late-stage Lyme disease, and it’s debilitating. So that being said, I’m a very high-maintenance traveler [laughs]. Air travel in particular for me is just really unpleasant.
I’m such a routine person, a ritual person, and I have everything in place every day that keeps me strong. Traveling disrupts that so much. The most helpful thing I’ve found so far is doing my best to keep up my home routine and the things I do daily. And for me, that’s bringing my herbal blends with me. Normally I would keep them separate—I’d usually work with herbs in a simple way, so one at a time—but for a recent trip [to Vermont] I definitely made a blend of things that are really supportive for me. Zinc I take on a daily basis throughout the year for my healing needs, so when I travel I continue my routine. I pack green powder just in case I can’t get to my nourishing herbs or get to a juice. Green Vibrance is amazing.
On the airplane, I’m full on: I line my nostrils with a homemade salve and I bring a Living Libations inhaler with their Immune Illume essential oil, so I’m puffing on that. Like, I sniff it up my nose! Oh my God, it feels so good. It’s a really good way to keep your lungs completely clear. There was one time I traveled with it when they didn’t let me take it on the airplane, but that was a while ago. I’ve traveled with it okay over Christmas.
And the salve has a base of olive oil and jojoba oil, and then I infuse, like, a million different skin herbs with it: sea buckthorn, rose hips, nettle, calendula, rose, marshmallow root, yarrow. I use it everywhere—my husband uses it as a beard oil, and I use it on my face and body—so I’ll bring a little with me when I travel so we can slather ourselves and line our nostrils and lips. The respiratory system is one of the more vulnerable systems in the body when we travel—it’s the easiest way to catch things, and I know it sounds weird but that’s why I always line my nose with goo when I’m traveling.
I know it sounds weird but that’s why I always line my nose with goo when I’m traveling.
I’ll spray some essential oil sprays and room sprays on the airplane, and I definitely douse myself. I bring things to clean my airplane seat—it’s whatever brand of wipes is available in individual packets at the checkout, and usually in some sort of citrus scent, since I need uplifting scents when I travel. I do a lot of colloidal silver. The spray is brilliant. You can spray anything with it—add a little to your water, spray it directly in your mouth, I put it in my ears sometimes; putting stuff in your ears, like garlic oil and silver, can be really helpful because it’s a different kind of passageway into your immune system and sinus.
Jenny Q’s Anxiety Free is really important [for me to pack]; I get really anxious flying, specifically, so I always take this one from Jenny’s Grateful Desert shop in downtown Joshua Tree. It has skullcap, which is so soothing, wild oat top, damiana, nettle, neroli…. So that’s my carry-on arsenal.
I also bring things to clear the space once I get to my destination. Smudges in particular can be really antibacterial and anti-all those things that can affect our immune system. So cleansing the air is really powerful. For anyone staying in a hotel, or even an Airbnb, cleanse the air! I’ve been working with a bunch of different smudging to clear stuff, but I don’t actually use white sage anymore because it’s endangered; we’re trying to encourage people to give it a break. So we’ll bring copal and frankincense just to set the tone in the space we’re staying.
One of our favorite things to do when we travel is visiting the local herb shop—it’s just so inspiring, and if you can’t take your herbs with you, they’ll have everything you need. Plus it gets you into the local situation. So it’s this whole chain of beautiful events where you’re supporting local, you’re supporting the place that you’re visiting, and you’re learning about herbs that might be more appropriate for that area.
That’s my routine! It smells really good—at least, I think so! And obviously the air is really clean.
—as told to The Glassy