For Serena Guen, traveling the world isn’t just her passion—it’s her career. She’s the founder and CEO of SUITCASE Group, a travel media company that includes the stylish travel publication SUITCASE Magazine. She started Suitcase to “make travel more exciting and experiential for the millennial generation.” Mission accomplished.
Serena is an explorer, constantly traveling and discovering new places, which also means her immune system is constantly threatened—be it from air travel, to city life, to stress. In recent years, she’s managed to find a natural health and wellness routine that keeps her balanced—and shared the results with Hilma.
When Serena began seeking out natural remedies.
I started really caring about natural product l when I lived in America during university, and I gained some weight in a short period of time. It was from all the hormones and extra salt in the food, and it had never occurred to me before that there were these hidden things in foods and products I was using. Then I started paying attention to whether what I was eating was organic, which ultimately led me to start thinking more broadly about all the things I ingest.
Last year, I was taking many different kinds of medication that weren’t natural and I felt terrible. One of the problems I have is that I’ve taken a ton of antibiotics for things that I really needed them for at the time, like kidney infections, but now I think I’ve taken so much my body is out of balance. Now I prefer to take a more natural approach as a first step.
I often think about how we only have one body. It's only just started truly dawning on me that I only have one set of teeth, and my skin is not going to get any younger. It makes you really pay attention to it.
Serena’s on-the-go essentials.
My work is quite stressful—I’m often in airports, which are not very nice, so when I’m traveling I bring a lavender oil, or wild rose, or ylang ylang, and when I get on the plane that really helps to make the space feel a little more my own. When I travel I take Daosin with me everywhere, which contains DAO, an enzyme that breaks down histamine because I’m lacking it. And when I’m flying I take something called D-Mannose—it’s a simple sugar molecule that’s naturally found in quite a few fruits like cranberries. It has proven to effectively kill e.coli, which really helps my Achilles Heel—my kidneys—stop getting infected.
Another thing I have with me always is a saline nasal spray. Flying really dries out your sinuses, and living in a city also really aggravates them. I was getting really bad sinus pain whenever I was traveling, but if you just use a salt water spray, it can help a lot.
One place that has inspired her on her journey toward natural solutions.
India! They have an amazing knowledge of herbs and how you can use different herbs to treat different things. I remember when I was there, I pulled a muscle and my yoga instructor gave me a salve — it was a mix of oils and herbs and things — to put on my muscle and within three days everything was cleared up.
Serena’s personal philosophy around wellness and health.
I’m trying to be more preventative. I live in a city so there’s quite a lot of extra stress on my body, whether it’s pollution, or noise, or stress from work. I’m trying to spend time in nature as much as possible, that can be as simple as just going to one of the few little parks nearby my office and going on a five minute walk. I eat as many fruits and vegetables as I can. But I don’t work out every single day, I don’t monitor every single thing that I eat; it’s a bit more of a relaxed approach. It’s about enjoying life and making sure the things I’m putting in my body are more helpful rather than damaging.
I’m also finding better work-life balance and making sure that if I’m really tired, to sleep an extra hour or do little things of self care. Before I used to wait to get burned out and have the doctors tell me to do these things, but now I feel confident that I know when to slow down. I definitely needed to learn my limits.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
This information is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult a physician before treating any disorder.