How-To Create an Auto Spa
By Leslie Wolski

It is mid July, the temperature outside is 101, but the heat radiating off of I-5 feels more like 201 degrees Farhenheit. The mini van is packed to capacity with kids (ranging in age from 4 to 9), suitcases, sleeping bags, pillows, boogie boards and the family dog. The air conditioning shudders as you ascend the highway grapevine. You have been on the road only three hours and already you are tired, cranky and hungry. This is when the question, "Are we there yet?" gets asked one more time…

It is at this moment that you must make a choice.

You can take the path that most parents do (out of desperation) and loudly proclaim, "We’ll be there when we get there!" turn up the random, static on the radio and ask for a mini bag of Cheetos to calm your nerves. Or you can RELAX…

When preparing for a trip, most of us make lists: clothes to bring, snacks to pack, sights to see.  I propose you add one more list. It will be the best list you ever wrote. Let’s call it the "Auto Spa List". This list will help you turn your car into a mini sanctuary at a time when you and everyone else need it most.

Here is what you need:

1. A classical music cd (or any other soothing instrumental soundtrack)
2. An automobile aromatherapy diffuser
3. A small bottle of lavender essential oil
4. A large bottle of water with 6 slices of lemon inside
5. A small cooler filled ¼ full of ice
6. Wash cloths soaked in a bowl of water and 3 drops of rosemary essential oil, then wrung out and kept in the cooler

I recommend that an adult other than the driver carry out the following spa steps:

1. Put on the classical music. Turn it up enough that you can hear it and FEEL it, but not so loud that it becomes a noisy distraction.
2. Tell the kids that you are all about to play the "Spa Game" and to start you all have to start taking slow, deep breaths (for some reason kids really dig this). Deep breaths immediately start to clear your head and help you to relax.
3. Open your lavender essential oil and apply it to your aromatherapy diffuser. Then turn it on. Auto diffusers can usually be found at stores such as Target and instructions for use will vary, but are always simple.
4. Let everyone in the car smell the lavender oil from the bottle. You may want to apply a drop to your wrists as well. The smell of lavender is very calming and can help reduce stress and eliminate headaches. This is a great time to tell the kids a little about lavender, where it grows and what it does.
5. Continue deep breathing, enjoying the scent of lavender and the beautiful music for about 10 minutes. Have everyone concentrate on relaxing his entire body. Tell the kids to relax their fingers, then their hands, then their arms and so on.
6. Next, have everyone enjoy some of the lemon water. Dehydration while traveling is very common and can cause irritability and fatigue. This is also a good time for a nutritious snack.
7. Now, take a moment to stretch and get your blood flowing again. Tilt your head so that your ear reaches for you shoulder (not your shoulder to your ear. Hold for a count to ten (have the kids count it out). Repeat on the other side. Then, everyone but the driver can hang his head, chin to chest for another 10 count.
8. Last, pass out the rosemary infused, chilled wash cloths and have everyone take a moment to "wash" his face. The cool cloth and breathing in the rosemary will help to revive everyone after the lavender relaxation period.

This "Auto Spa" moment is guaranteed to give you a much needed respite from the stresses of the family car trip. And the dreaded phrase "Are we there yet?" will become just another excuse to relax.

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Leslie Wolski is an international spa consultant, author and professional speaker. She owns LULU, a Spa Lifestyle Company. Author of SPA Refreshing Rituals for Body and Soul, Wolski can and can be contacted at
lwolski@sonic.net . This is her first article for BAFT.

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