For as long as I can remember I get car sick. I thought it would get better with getting older; I was wrong. As a child, I associated long car rides and boat trips with getting sick. Not a fun prospect when you are a child.
Travel sickness isn’t really a sickness but rather a normal reaction of the body to an abnormal situation. The brain gets contradictory information about what the body senses and what the eyes see.
Travel sickness was first described by Hippocrates about 2000 years ago. He observed that “sailing the seas proves that motion disorders the body”. Nowadays we not only have boats but also busses, cars, trains, and airplanes, making travel sickness more common.
Over the years, I have learned a number of things that make sure I am not getting sick easily or not at all. Because it is still better to prevent travel sickness than to treat the symptoms once they occur.
Here are some tips from personal experience and from the scientific literature.
1. Sit where there is not a lot of motion
There are always places in a vehicle where there isn’t a lot of motion, like the lower level of busses and trains, close to the water in boats facing the waves, and above the wings of an airplane.
2. Synchronize what the eyes see and what the body feels
Make sure that what the body feels and sees is the same; so not reading or playing with your phone. If possible, try to focus on the horizon and see where you are going. That is why, in cars, the best place to sit is in the passenger’s seat. If this is not possible, like on a plane or during a lot of time on a bus, I always close my eyes and hold my head still. This way my body doesn’t get mismatched information: it only feels the movement. It is even better to listen to music so you get even more relaxed.
3. Stay active
It is known, that if you drive a car yourself, you are not getting sick. But you can’t pilot a boat or a plane yourself; then it can help to walk around.
4. Eat something before traveling
If you are traveling, it is recommended to eat something light beforehand. I get sick much easier when I have an empty stomach. Also, drink often, but avoid alcohol.
5. Avoid strong smells and make sure there is fresh air
This is something you often can’t control yourself. There will always be people who have to wear a strong perfume on a plane. And it is a little bit difficult to open a window then. But opening a window is the best way to do when you are in the car.
6. Medicine against travel sickness
This is something I always use when traveling. About 45 minutes before departure, I take a tablet with some water and a little snack. An additional advantage of these tablets: you fall asleep very easy. I often don’t know anything about lift off when I am on a plane, I immediately fall asleep (and wake up with the smell of food 😉 ). There are different kinds available at your pharmacy or drugstore.
7. Ginger and acupressure
Going on a boat trip to Engeland, I was very sick and nauseous, when a friendly lady offered me a piece of ginger. The taste was horrible, but about 15 minutes later, I felt my stomach relax. It is not scientifically proven that ginger can aid in travel sickness. And the same goes for the acupressure wristbands you can buy. These can, however, work if you believe they will work.
I try to apply all of the above-mentioned tips when I travel. It doesn’t matter if it is a long car ride, a boat trip, or if I take the plane. There are still moments that are difficult (like turbulence), but it is not as bad as a few years ago. And I know that the feeling will go away when I exit the car or the plane and all is forgotten.
Do you get sick while traveling? What do you do?