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Travelers are using CBD to calm nerves, treat jet lag, ease muscle aches, and more.
Apprehensive travelers are turning to CBD for its calming effects. But crossing borders with it can be tricky. We break down the rules for you—and the best products to try.
As travel makes its roaring comeback and you return to the friendly skies or the open road, you may also feel a little trepidation after so much time grounded. Some nervous travelers are taking CBD, or cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating cannabis plant extract, for its calming effects. Others use it to treat jet lag or ease muscle aches.
But can you fly with CBD oil or gummies? Here’s what you need to know about traveling with CBD—plus, some of our favorite products for travelers.
According to the TSA, CBD products that contain less than 0.3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), standard for CBD derived from hemp as opposed to CBD from cannabis, are permitted aboard aircraft in checked or carry-on bags. Keep in mind that marijuana and certain cannabis-infused products with more than 0.3 percent THC are illegal based on federal laws and should not be brought on airplanes. The TSA website maintains that passenger screening is aimed at detecting potential threats and keeping everyone safe and not in the business of searching for illegal substances, but that said, the laws are pretty clear and breaking them is ill-advised.
Although CBD has been legal on a federal level since 2018, keep in mind that CBD regulations vary from state to state. For example, it’s perfectly legal to travel with CBD products containing less than 0.3 percent of THC in the state of Vermont, but in Kansas, only THC-free CBD products are considered legal. And even this is confusing as all forms and combinations of CBD appear on the state’s list of banned substances. Before you bring CBD products into a new state, it’s best to research local regulations.
Traveling internationally with CBD is even trickier. Although Canada legalized cannabis in 2018, it’s still against the law to cross the Canadian border with cannabis and cannabis-containing products—even if you have a medical marijuana license. Likewise, traveling abroad to anywhere in the EU prohibits the possession of cannabis and products containing cannabis, regardless of the laws in the country you’re visiting. And if you decide to purchase cannabis in one EU nation—say, the Netherlands—the safest option is to leave it behind if your European adventures have you hopping from country to country.
With the topline legal stuff out of the way, let’s dive into the benefits and uses of CBD for travelers.
“The literature studying the effects of cannabis on anxiety is fairly robust,” says Timothy Byars, director of Medical Cannabis Programs at Pacific College of Health and Science. Studies, of which there are over a hundred now, show promising evidence that CBD may reduce anxiety.
But while CBD’s potential to help stressed or anxious travelers is fairly well known, Byars says it may also promote wakefulness, at least at lower doses. CBD edibles and oils promoting energy or focus are on the rise, though research has not yet gone deep in studying CBD’s stimulating effects. Nonetheless, we’d be remiss to ignore CBD’s potential to help weary, jet-lagged travelers combat fatigue and exhaustion. This writer, for one, has found CBD products promising “energy” or “focus” to be a better bet than downing yet another cup of coffee when the inevitable jet lag strikes. And Boston-based musician Tedros McCrary says he’s found CBD useful on trips out west when traveling requires adjusting to a different time zone. “It’s subtle but effective,” he says.
Whether you’re looking for a way to relax in flight or focus on a jam-packed-making-up-for-lost-time travel agenda, we’ve got you covered. Read on for our picks for the best CBD products for travelers. Each one contains less than 0.3 percent of THC, so they’re legal to travel with on domestic flights within the United States.
This bean-to-bar Madagascan chocolate bar is so tasty it may be hard to stop at one square. But recalling the industry adage shared by Byars, “Start low and go slow,” we recommend sticking to the suggested one square dose, which contains 25 mg CBD from full spectrum hemp extract. Intended to relieve all kinds of traveler ailments from inflammation to anxiety and sleep issues, the preservative-free chocolate bar is a nice alternative if you’re not into gummies or oils.
If you care about authentic (read: not artificial) flavors, you’d be hard-pressed to find a tastier gummy than what this artisanal Oregon brand is producing. Redolent of the Pacific Northwest’s bounty, the blackberry CBD gummies, made from hemp containing zero THC, are especially delicious—and effective. A general-use CBD bite, a single dose can be taken before takeoff or after a long hike when your muscles need some TLC.
These travel-ready packs containing honey infused with pure CBD get our seal of approval both for their flavor profile—floral, fruity, and earthy—and their chill impact on tired limbs, sore joints, and racing minds. With so many gummies on the market, it can be easy to forget that not everyone has a taste for the candy-like item. What’s more: This honey can be consumed on its own, stirred into a beverage, or drizzled on toast or crackers to elevate even the most basic airplane food.
A good option for someone just dipping their toes into the wide world of cannabinoids, these mints are beautifully packaged—we almost feel soothed by the packaging alone—and discreet. Containing just a handful of ingredients, including green tea extract, chamomile, and ginger, each mint has 10 mg of CBD and its effects are subtle yet successful in bringing stress levels down a few notches.
We’ll admit we were initially drawn to this product because of its attractive, streamlined packaging and design, but we stayed enamored after administering a dropper before bed on our first night back in a hotel in an unfamiliar bed and proceeding to fall into a deep, relaxing slumber. The recommended dose’s 5 mg of melatonin no doubt played a part in the oil lulling us to sleep, but it’s hard not to also feel grateful for the groggy-free mornings likely aided by the oil’s hemp-derived CBD.
Truth be told, we’re into all of Mindset Gummies’ categories: happy, calm, rest, recovery, beauty, focus, but if we had to choose just one for our travel needs now, we’d go with focus. Containing terpene pinene, which may aid in memory and stoke creative juices, these blueberry gummies are a great option for travelers with packed itineraries who struggle with jet-lag related brain fog. Plus, pinene—a terpene found in pine, rosemary, and basil—may also help relieve pain.
Travel often requires a certain amount of stamina. Whether it’s a long, international flight, a multiday road trip, or an interstate Amtrak journey, the inevitability of sore muscles and joints is ever present. While many ingestible CBD products purport to reduce inflammation and provide relief for arthritis or other chronic pain issues, we love the swift relief of a topical salve. And a little of this product, made in Massachusetts by a women-led company, goes a long way.
>> Next: How to Calm Your Travel Anxiety
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