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travelbold.com » Motion Sickness Strategies

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Motion Sickness Strategies

Watching the horizon can settle a queasy stomach...and a blast of fresh air is always a good idea too!

Watching the horizon can settle a queasy stomach...and a blast of fresh air is always a good idea too!

Help for the Queasy Traveler

Is a car trip your personal idea of hell? On a cruise, do you spend more time curled in the fetal position in your cabin than enjoying the sights?  Would you rather spend a week at the dentist’s office than an hour in a small airplane?

Lucky you – you suffer from motion sickness!

It’s a malady that hits us all from time to time, no matter how much traveling we’ve done.  It’s a nasty trick played on our stomach by our brain that can spell the end to vacation fun unless you come up with some smart strategies to combat it.

What is it?

Motion sickness is a simple case of confusion.  Your brain isn’t properly processing what your body is experiencing and so sends messages to your stomach that cause nausea.  Ordinarily, your brain gets clear, dependable messages from your eyes and your inner ear that jibe pretty well with your expectations and previous experiences.  In certain travel circumstances, however, such as when you’re traveling in the back seat of a car, below decks on a ship, or in an airplane where your vision is restricted and you have no view of the horizon, trouble starts.  Your eye perceives your surroundings to be still, but your inner ear’s balance mechanism registers movement.  In short, your sensory wires are crossed and the ultimate victim is your stomach.  In no time, you grow pale, break out in a sweat and your lunch begins to threaten a hasty return.

So what’s an intrepid traveler to do?

Motion sickness can strike any time, whether you travel by boat, car or plane.

Motion sickness can strike any time, whether you travel by boat, car or plane.

Quelling the Quaking Within

The best solution for dealing with motion sickness is to practice preventative strategies.  Sit in the front passenger seat in the car, ask for a window seat on an airplane and choose larger planes over their smaller cousins – you’ll experience less turbulence.  Spend more time enjoying the fresh air on the promenade deck and less in your cabin.  If you go deep-sea fishing, try your best to avoid using the completely enclosed bathroom below decks (cross your legs – it’s preferable!)  Whenever possible, open a window or step out on a balcony to get fresh air – and always keep your eyes on the horizon.

While certain over the counter medications such as Gravol or Dramamine are helpful for dealing with and even preventing motion sickness, they can leave you feeling drowsy – not a great thing when every vacation moment is precious.  The good news is that Gravol (note: available in Canada) has introduced a new product – a chewable ginger-based lozenge which, if chewed in advance of a sick-making trip, has proved very effective for me.  Another great over the counter option is a product called Bonamine, an anti-nausea medication that has no sedating effects and lasts up to 24 hours.  I’ve also found it very effective.

If you’re planning a cruise and want a long-term solution, consider Transderm, a product that consists of two small circular patches (like the paper reinforcements we used to stick on three-ring binder pages) that adhere to the skin behind each of your ears. Over the course of 72 hours, the patches exude small amounts of anti-nausea medication that is absorbed through your skin to prevent you from feeling sea-sick. Most people report no nasty side-effects and find these patches a great way to enjoy every shipboard moment. Your pharmacist may also suggest that you try motion bands, which are snug bracelets of fabric with imbedded discs designed to press on certain areas of the wrist. The acupressure effect is thought to aid in preventing motion sickness, but I can’t say I’ve ever had any success with them.

If you don’t succeed in preventing the onset of motion sickness and begin to feel that familiar queasiness arising, fix your eyes firmly on the horizon, sip a cold can of ginger ale and hold another cold can against the back of your neck.  Nibble dry crackers, suck on a ginger-flavored candy or chew strongly flavored gum – cinnamon is a good choice.  If all else fails and you’re able to get to a source of cold water, take a shower or jump in a cool pool.  Strange as it may sound, you might even consider soaking a towel in cold water, wringing it out and wrapping yourself in it.  That was the cure offered to me after a particularly gagging flight in a small plane in Africa and I was so desperate, I went for it.  The soaking wet towel completely engulfed me from head to toe, my clothing was drenched – and it worked like a charm!

Posted in Adventure and Gear 8 years, 8 months ago at 8:14 pm.

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