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What Can You Do To Prevent Motion Sickness When Travelling?


car for traveling with a roof rack on a mountain road



Motion sickness and other forms of nausea are very unpleasant to put up with and if you suffer from this, I hope this post will help you to avoid this discomfort in the future.

Feelings of nausea, dizziness, headache and anxiety are all too common during travel and they can take the enjoyment out of a trip. You need to get a handle on this form of motion sickness so that it does not stop you from traveling in the first place and enjoying yourself in the second.

The problem is that the motion of a car, train, boat or airplane can trigger mixed signals to the brain, making the body react in a variety of ways. Obviously our bodies and systems were originally designed for us to stay on the ground and just use our own two feet to get around!

Even some NASA astronauts struggle to combat this side effect of space travel

Motion sickness happens when you become aware of the movement around you.

Unfortunately closing your eyes will not help. Normally, the eyes, inner ears (which contain fluid that sloshes around in reaction to movement), skin and muscles send sensory information to the brain that allows it to determine the body’s position in space and to track whether and in what direction you are moving.

Motion sickness is believed to occur when this balancing system gets overwhelmed by contradictory messages sent from the eyes and inner ears. The result can be the symptoms of sweating, light headedness, hyperventilation, nausea and vomiting.

So what do you need to do?

First of all, the easiest way to prevent motion sickness is to avoid triggers:

  • Try not to sit in those parts of the vehicle (whether car, boat, plane, bus or coach) that are most susceptible to movement. In a plane, sit near the wing since that area has the least movement and then center yourself on your headrest and try to focus on distant or steady vision points such as the horizon (not always easy I know). Turn on the vent so you can get some air.
  • During an extended flight, eat small meals and drink small amounts of fluids either before or during a flight to help reduce nausea and vomiting. Foods to be avoided include those that are greasy, spicy, salty, made from dairy products or foods rich in protein. Be careful about what medications you take.
  • If in a car, sit in the front seat and focus on the road ahead, helping you to have a proper balance of your body and eye. Back seat passengers get the worst cases of motion sickness.
  • Avoid reading, as this is one of the major causes for motion sickness no matter what mode of transport. I sometimes suffer from motion sickness myself so don’t ever ask me to read a map in the car!
  • If you are in a bus or coach, try to get out when it stops for more passengers and then get on again before it leaves.
  • If you are on a boat, go up on deck into the fresh air to smell the ocean or the sea or the lake.
  • Cover your nose from any kind of odor that may cause you to feel nauseous. There are so many such smells including engine fumes. Make sure no one is smoking.
  • Avoid a warm, stuffy space. Make sure the area you are sitting in is well ventilated with preferably no heating turned on. Don’t dress too warmly.
  • Sleep well before a journey because if you are tired you more likely to suffer from motion sickness.
  • Avoid eating too much before you travel as this can be another trigger. The same goes for alcohol. But drinking frequent sips of water can never hurt.
  • To be stress-free, positive and to look forward to your destination as motion sickness is partially psychological.
  • Always stay well clear of other people who are getting motion sickness especially if you have a queasy stomach as seeing others get sick will only accelerate the process for you.
  • Remember that there are certain conditions that can heighten motion sickness and these include pregnancy, a hangover and fatigue.

There are lots of home remedies you can try to either prevent or treat motion sickness

  • Ginger is highly effective for all types of stomach upsets including motion sickness. Take ginger capsules about an hour before the actual trip. Suck on crystallized ginger candy or make ginger tea by pouring hot boiling water over chopped ginger with a little added brown sugar. You can always make a flask of this tea to take with you on your trip. Ginger works well to treat motion sickness as it absorbs acids and blocks the nausea in your gastrointestinal tract.
  • Eat a couple of olives or suck a lemon at the first suggestion of nausea as these contain tannins to make your mouth dry so that saliva does not trickle into your stomach.
  • Peppermints or candy made from catnip may also alleviate motion sickness. Peppermint tea or chamomile tea are two other home remedies you can try.
  • Nibble on something light like soda crackers.
  • A simple cure for motion sickness is to tuck an Aspirin in your belly button and then place an adhesive bandage over it to hold it in.
  • Another home remedy for motion sickness is to suck on a wintergreen lifesaver or other wintergreen mint. It also leaves your mouth feeling fresh.
  • Practice cognitive behavioural therapy or other forms of psychological treatment before traveling in order to help condition your brain to accept the concept of travel.

With some planning ahead of your trip, you should be able to avoid the discomfort of motion sickness and even enjoy your travel to the full.




Acupressure point P6: Pericardium 6 or Nei Guan. (n.d.).

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Brey RL. (2005). Both migraine and motion sickness may be due to low brain levels of serotonin. DOI: