How to Master Your Motion Sickness While Traveling
How to enjoy the journey.
Do you suffer from motion sickness while traveling? Motion sickness can manifest in a variety of ways–and the symptoms you suffer might change depending on the mode of transport you’re taking. Whether you struggle with nausea on boats, headaches while flying, or a general sense of queasiness whenever you’re aboard a motorized vehicle, these tips will help you manage the symptoms and feel better so you can enjoy the journey as well as the destination.
Treat Motion Sickness Like Altitude Sickness
If you’ve ever experienced altitude sickness, you might remember that it feels a lot like motion sickness: nausea, headaches, fatigue, you name it. It’s not a surprise then that some of the same over-the-counter and alternative treatments you use to manage altitude sickness can help with motion sickness symptoms. If your stomach is feeling okay but you’re not sure about eating, try a glass of orange juice to keep your immune system boosted and blood sugars up. Taking an over-the-counter antihistamine can also help since it manages your headache and nausea–and might even knock you out so you won’t feel sick anymore.
Opt for the Front-Facing, Forwardmost Seats
Motion sickness is caused by conflicting signals between your inner ear and your visual experience. You can make this worse by sitting in certain directions or postures that create even more disagreement between these two sensory systems–the most common of which is sitting facing backward. Instead, opt to face forward whenever possible, and book those seats in advance if you have to! It can also help to sit toward the forward of whatever vehicle you’re traveling on since you’ll experience less sway and bumps that way.
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Travel With Stomach Soothers
Nausea is the most common symptom of motion sickness, and it’s the one that’s most likely to eliminate all joy while traveling. To keep your stomach calm, plan ahead and bring stomach soothing candies or tablets. Both Tums and Pepto Bismol make travel-friendly tablets, and candies like mints and ginger hard candies offer flavors that are known to help calm an upset stomach.
Ginger Is Your Friend
Speaking of ginger, this root is a great option if you struggle with motion sickness. Ginger is a natural treatment for nausea, and there are lots of options for how to ingest it. Most planes, trains, and boats serve ginger ale because they know it’s a great option for motion sensitive travelers. You can also buy ginger candies if you love the flavor of ginger. If you don’t, ginger pills are also available, usually in the vitamin section of your local pharmacy. The other good news is that you shouldn’t have any problem bringing ginger pills across the border no matter where you’re traveling.
Bring OTC Medication From Home
If alternative treatments like mint and ginger aren’t enough, bring your own over-the-counter treatments. Dramamine packs a powerful punch for the small, tube-shaped container it comes in. There’s definitely room in your carry-on for that if you want to avoid feeling any motion sickness while in transit. Similarly, Tums now offers individually wrapped treatment chews that can fit in a coat pocket without making a mess.
Look Up From Your Devices (Or Book)
In today’s connected world, travel is a great time to catch up on emails and texts, watch a movie, or read a book. Unfortunately, these activities may exacerbate motion sickness, since they exacerbate the conflict between what your eyes are seeing and what your inner ear is feeling. Take regular breaks from your screens or book–or stop altogether if you’re feeling sickly. Try looking for the horizon line if possible, since the farther you look, the better able your brain is to get a sense of the actual motion you’re experiencing.
Practice Meditation and Deep Breathing
Meditation is a good practice in your daily life, but it’s also helpful when you’re in the throes of terrible motion sickness. Many people experience nausea in waves (unfortunately similar to the waves rocking the boats that make them sick), and meditation and slow, deep breathing can help you ride the figurative waves better. Mindfulness meditation will help you understand that the feelings are all temporary and will eventually pass too (no matter how miserable you feel in the moment).
Close Your Eyes
If you don’t have a daily meditation practice, that’s okay. Part of the reason meditation works is that it involves closing your eyes–therefore, merely closing your eyes may help with motion sickness (even if you don’t know how to meditate, or choose not to). And, hey, it may also help you slip into sleep–which is a surefire way to reset those confusing signals in your brain and reduce your motion sickness.
Use Ear Plugs
Since part of the problem with motion sickness has to do with signals from your inner ear, putting in earplugs may help. While they won’t calm the fluids in your inner ear causing the motion sickness in the first place, they will create a more calm space for you to try and relax and ride through the worst of the discomfort and nausea. It’s always smart to pack earplugs anyway, as you might need them once you arrive in your destination.
Teach Yourself Basic Acupressure
You might wonder if those motion sickness bracelets work. The answer is that they do–for some people. Motion sickness bracelets target pressure points on your wrist to help reduce the feelings of nausea you’re feeling. You can also teach yourself where those pressure points are, and apply pressure yourself using one hand on the opposing wrist.
Bring a Barf Bag In Case All Else Fails
We all hate to think about it, but at some point, your motion sickness may win. The last thing you want to do is be feeling sick… and covered in it too. If you seriously struggle with motion sickness, consider traveling with a barf bag. You can grab one off your next flight and slip it in your bag, or look online for more effective ones (modern “barf bags” have a ring you place around your nose and mouth to contain the mess).
What to Do If Your Traveling Companion Is Sick
If you’re traveling with family, a friend, or a child who suffers some motion sickness, some of these tips can help make a day of torturous travel into a joyous one. If you have the front-facing seat, offer it to your travel companion. Bring a few mints in your carry-on in case of nausea, or offer ibuprofen to help manage any headache symptoms. These small steps go a long way to help keep your whole travel crew happier in transit.