Let’s get something straight here: I love
My first time on a plane was a puddle jumper from Traverse City, Michigan to Chicago, Illinois. The flight was only an hour long and yet it was enough for me to fill an airline puke bag with my half-digested breakfast. And this was back when they actually stocked each seat with puke bags. Now you have to ask for one while simultaneously filling your seatmates with fear and dread.
Motion sickness follows me everywhere: From planes, trains, cars, boats, amusement parks
If you’re also a traveler who deals with the frustrating, nauseating, evil grip of motion sickness, let me be the first to say: I see you. I recognize how much it sucks and I completely validate your need to smack the crap out of anyone who tells you to “just look at the horizon.” It’s garbage advice and we both know it.
You want some advice that’s not garbage? Here are all my best tried and true motion sickness tips for travelers!
Note: I am 100%
What is Motion Sickness?
Motion sickness is the result of your brain receiving mixed signals on the status of your movement. It often occurs in places like planes and cars. Your eyes send messages to your brain that you are not moving, because from a vision standpoint, inside a plane or car you are not moving- merely sitting in a chair. But the motion sensors in your inner ear and throughout your body send messages to your brain that you are moving, as it can sense the movement of the plane or car. As the brain receives these mixed messages, it cannot discern which is true so it just kind of freaks out and makes you sick instead. Thanks, brain.
Motion sickness is much more common in children and pregnant women, but there are a lucky few who get to experience motion sickness through their whole lives! Yay!
There are some other factors that can cause motion
What are the Symptoms of Motion Sickness?
The symptoms of motion sickness can vary in different people. And those who are affected by motion sickness may experience a range of symptoms each time they get sick. Children are more likely to vomit due to motion sickness, as they’re less likely to recognize the signs of motion sickness before it gets too severe. Other common symptoms of motion sickness include:
- Cold Sweats
- Dizziness and light headedness
- Pale Skin
- Vomiting or heaving
Tips for Preventing Motion Sickness While Traveling
I have found that the best way to help with motion sickness is to be proactive, rather than reactive. This means that if you know you’re prone to getting motion sickness, do what you can to minimize your chances of getting sick before you get on the plane (or car, or boat, or whatever). And if you start feeling sick while in motion, employ these motion sickness tips as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the longer it will take to recover from the sick feeling.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click a link and purchase one of these items, I will get an itty bitty (no, really…) commission at no cost to you! Thanks!
1. Take Medication
At least 1 hour prior to boarding a plane, take motion sickness medication. You can even take it 2-3 hours before, but the point is you need to give the medication time to get into your system before you can expect it to work. Medication is best used as a preventative measure. If you take it after you’re already feeling sick, it’s going to take some time before it starts to help.
There are two main over the counter drugs on the market which help with motion sickness. The first is dimenhydrinate, more commonly known as Dramamine. It works great to combat motion sickness, but it often causes drowsiness and sleepiness as a side effect. The other drug is meclizine, more commonly known as Bonine. This is the medication I personally prefer, as the drowsy side effects aren’t as strong.
2. Get a Patch
If your motion sickness symptoms are severe, you may want to consult a doctor about getting a prescribed motion sickness patch.
3. Try Sea Bands and Acupressure
Acupressure is the idea that certain pressure points within the body can trigger different responses in the brain. For alleviation of motion sickness symptoms, there is a pressure point refered to as the Pericardium 6 (or, P6). This point is located in the forearm, between the two tendons that descend from the wrist. Using your thumb to apply pressure to this point can often help with nausea.
There are also a few products available that can help apply pressure to this point. Sea Band is a popular product. The stretch wristband has a small plastic bit that sits against your P6 point and applies pressure.
Another way you can try to help settle your stomach when a bout of motion sickness hits is to do a little aromatherapy. Certain smells can trigger a calming effect and help reduce nausea. There are a number of travel-friendly products you can pack for motion sickness aromatherapy. Motioneaze is a scented oil that you rub behind your ear. It’s a great alternative to people who don’t like to take medications. But if you’re skin is sensitive, you can also try the Quease Ease Aromatic Inhaler and simply breathe in the calming scents.
If you don’t have any oils on hand, you can also try a few natural sources of aromatherapy. Smelling the oil from a freshly peeled orange or lemon can also help tame a queasy stomach.
5. Get Fresh Air
Along with the aromatherapy, getting fresh air can help tremendously with motion sickness. Sometimes planes and cars can get a bit stuffy. Or they accumulate unpleasant odors that can contribute to nausea. Getting some fresh air will clear those stuffy odors and help you feel a bit better.
6. Consume Ginger
Another common method for staving off motion sickness is to consume ginger. It has been known to help settle the stomach and dissipate nausea. There are several ways for travelers to ingest ginger. There are ginger hard candies which you can suck on when you get motion sickness. There is also a ginger chewing gum that helps with nausea. You can try drinking ginger in the form of tea or ginger ale as well. If you can’t quite stomach the potent flavor of ginger, there are ginger tablets you can take that are
7. Lie Horizontally
Lying down horizontally is another great way to help with motion sickness. It doesn’t work for everybody, but it has worked for me in the past. Something about lying horizontally helps your body’s motion sensors get back in sync. It can also slow down the chemicals in your brain that tell your body to feel sick. If you aren’t able to fully lay down, even just a small recline can improve your symptoms.
8. Sleep it Off
This has been my foolproof method of avoiding motion sickness. I once managed to be one of a handful of people on a whale watching tour that didn’t hurl over the side of the boat, simply because I fell asleep while laying horizontally to help my motion sickness. On planes and long bus rides, I try to make myself sleep. It helps keep the nausea away and it makes the ride feel faster! If you’re one of the people that can’t sleep while in motion, try taking that Dramamine!
9. Keep Cool
One of the first signs I get when I start getting motion sickness is a wave of heat that comes over my body, and I begin to get the cold sweats. I’ve found that the best way to avoid this is to keep my body cool while in motion. Whenever I get on a plane, the first thing I do is open the air vents and let cool air flow over me. On buses or cars, I open the windows and let the breeze hit me if I start feeling sick.
Cooling down your body temperature can help settle your stomach when you begin feeling motion sick. If you find that this method works well for you, you may even think about bringing a small, personal fan to use whenever you need a cool down.
10. Eat a light meal
It may seem a little counterintuitive, but putting some food in your stomach before setting off can help deter motion sickness. While digesting food, your body has something else to do besides focusing on your motion. That being said, don’t go down a greasy burger and fries or half a pizza before boarding a plane. Light foods that fill you up without making you feel super full are the best way to go. And while you’re at it, say no to alcoholic beverages and stick to water. Staying hydrated can help your body avoid sickness as well.
11. Distract Yourself
Did you know that you can actually make yourself motion sick just by thinking about the possibility of getting motion sick? That’s right, the more you think about it, the more likely you are to get sick. So a great way to avoid this is to distract your mind from the dizziness. Start up a conversation. Go through important lists in your head. Name all your family members alphabetically. Identify your Top 10 favorite cookies. Anything to keep your mind off the motion sickness!
12. Concentrate on Your Breath
If you can’t quite distract yourself from the impending nausea, try to close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. Breathe deeply, with long inhales and exhales. This can help slow your heart rate, cool your body, and help ease some of the anxiety around the possibility of getting sick. This is a technique I use when taking off or landing on a plane. These are two times when I know I’m susceptible to feeling motion sickness, so I take deep, slow breaths and mentally go through my travel itinerary.
13. Avoid Trigger Activities
When in transit, there are often a handful of activities that can contribute to motion sickness. Things like reading books or maps can cause the onset of motion sickness, as well as watching movies, scrolling on your phone, or playing games. I’m one of the unfortunate ones who can’t do much other than sit and wait for the ride to be over. Even just searching for a good road trip snack in a moving vehicle can make me queasy! If you know you’re prone to motion sickness, make sure to avoid the activities that can bring it on.
14. Choose the Right Seat
While traveling, it’s really helpful to choose the right seat to minimize your chances of getting sick. Depending on what mode of transportation you’re using, there are different places where passengers typically can’t feel as much motion. This may mean paying a little extra for the privledge to choose your seat, but just think of what it saves you in misery! Here are the usual places where people are less likely to feel motion sick:
- Plane: The seats closest to the wings
- Car: The front seats
- Buses and Trains: The lowest level, closest to the front, facing forward
- Boat: The level closest to the surface of the water, facing toward the direction of the waves
15. Stop Moving
Of course, one of the best ways to help alleviate the symptoms of motion sickness is to stop moving. It’s not always possible- you can’t really tell an airplane pilot to stop flying the plane. But if you’re on a road trip, maybe pull over and take a break from the car. Or if you’re at an amusement park and you begin to feel sick, let your body rest for a while. By stopping the motion, your brain will stop getting mixed signals and the symptoms of motion sickness will subside.
16. See a Doctor
If you find that none of the above motion sickness tips help you manage your symptoms, you may want to see a doctor. They may be able to prescribe a stronger medication to help you manage symptoms. Or, it could be that your symptoms are due to some other bodily problem.
Motion sickness is something that many travelers have had to face. Sadly, there’s not really anything you can do to totally cure yourself from suffering through motion sickness. It’s just one of those things most travelers will inevitably have to deal with. Like bed bugs. Or drunken hostel roommates.
But luckily, these motion sickness tips can be very effective for both preventing motion sickness and feeling better once it hits.
Do you get motion sickness? What are some ways you deal with it?
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Yes! As a fellow suffer of motion sickness this list is spot on! I carry Bonine in my backpack every day (even when I’m not traveling) because the start-stop of city busses is enough to set me off. I also find a little whiff of peppermint essential oil can help. Thanks for the great tips! Happy travels!