Motion Sickness: Tackling the Traveler’s Worst Nightmare
Motion sickness can be a traveler’s worst enemy.
It can present as fatigue, nausea, dizziness, or just general discomfort, but no matter what your experience, it can put a damper on any person’s travels. Below are ten strategies and items you can use to calm your motion sickness and make your adventure the best it could be.
1 The Patch (Transderm scop)
The transderm scop patch was first recommended to me by my doctor prior to a road trip. At that point, I was willing to try anything as I knew that I would not be the one driving. I was warned not to get it wet and to wash my hands thoroughly after application (as getting any of the medication from the patch into my eyes could cause my vision to temporarily blur.
The first time I used the patch it was the most sensational experience ever. I rode in the back of the car from Tampa, Florida to New Orleans, Louisiana without a problem. For the first time in 27 years I was able to look at my phone, talk to people, sit in the back, and read, all in the back seat of the car. I felt like a normal person! It was amazing and from that moment I was hooked. The only downside I experienced was that it caused some cystic acne on my face, but it was worth it to not feel like death in the car.
However, the second time I used it, I immediately felt nauseous (without being in a moving vehicle). Nausea has been reported as a potential side effect and unfortunately my nausea was too severe to continue using it.
I will always have the memory of the first time I used it when it worked. One day I will try it again but for now I will stick with the rest of the strategies below.
2 Dramamine (Original, Less Drowsy, & Non-Drowsy)
Dramamine has been a go to for me since I was a child. I used to take the original formula knowing that, for me, it would knock me out for a majority of the trip. (One word of caution for anyone susceptible for “knocking out” like I do. Don’t take it too early! I have been on one flight where I took it too early and had to be escorted onto the plane. Very embarrassing.)
As I’ve gotten older I have found that I don’t want to sleep during my travels. I want to experience the flight, boat ride, or drive. So I stick with the less drowsy or non-drowsy options. There are also all natural dramamine pills available. No matter which one I take, they all work well enough. However sometimes the motion sickness prevails, so I will pair it with the relief band electric watch (see below).
3 Relief Band
The relief band has always been a fun way of keeping motion sickness at bay. The electricity pulses through your arm and into your hand (causing your fingers or thumb to move involuntarily). You can even control how strong the electric current is (mine is most often set to a 4). I don’t know if it draws your focus to the hilarity of seeing your hand involuntarily contracting or if it actually does hit a meridian line to control your motion sickness, but whatever the reason, it really does work. I often pair this with dramamine and it works like a charm.
4 Sea Bands
I feel like sea bands are more of a mental help (my mind thinks they work so they do sort of thing). By no means do these work as well as the relief band or dramamine, but damned if I ever leave home without them! They are typically the first thing I put on if I go on a quick impromptu lunch date with my girlfriends or have to commute somewhere unexpectedly and I am not in the driver’s seat.
5 Layered Clothing
This may seem silly to some, but clothing is a huge thing for me when traveling. The first sign of my motion sickness comes in the form of overheating. The sooner I can strip off some layers, the better my chances of not having a real problem on my hands. I often travel in a tank top, tshirt, jacket (if it’s cold enough), and scarf. As soon as I begin to overheat I strip down to my tank top, lay my head down (roll down the window for some fresh air if I’m in a car) and close my eyes. It really does help (almost freezing myself in the process definitely takes my mind off of feeling sick).
6 Giving in to Fatigue
Motion sickness can present itself as making a person nauseous, overheating, becoming physically ill (vommitting), sleepy (yawning), salivating, as a headache, and many other things. If you find that you are drowsy or begin excessively yawning when you are in motion, your best bet is to lie your head down, close your eyes, and attempt to take a nap. Fighting the fatigue can sometimes cause you to feel worse, so giving in and taking a short nap can help.
7 Focus on the horizon
Drawing your attention to the horizon allows you to visually take things slow. Looking out ahead stops you from looking at things passing quickly by you. Watching things that are close can cause your eyes to overwork, making you feel more sick. By staring at the horizon, your head stays straight and everything moves slowly, allowing your eyes to relax. (On that note, if you don’t want to stare at the horizon, finding and focusing on something that you like to look at can often yield the same results).
8 Peppermint essential oil
Whether you rub this on your wrists, temples, or just open it up to take a quick whiff, peppermint essential oil can calm a sick stomach. It’s a pleasant aroma to begin with but peppermint, like ginger, has qualities that actually calm your system and ease nausea. It’s nice because it comes in a small enough form that can easily fit in your purse or travel pack.
9 Face the way you’re traveling
Planes, trains, and boats often have seats that face away from where you are going. If you suffer from motion sickness, these are not the seats you want to sit in. Facing the way you are going allows your body to be in sync with your motion instead of fighting against it.
Practicing breathing techniques can help calm your nerves and your nausea. If you don’t know which strategies to use, I have written a post on them [here].
The items listed above are all a part of my motion sickness bag that I carry around with me day in and day out (whether I’m traveling or not).
As someone who has suffered from terrible motion sickness my entire life, I fully understand your troubles. However, it should never be the reason for you to stop traveling. There are so many options available to help. Take the leap and find what works for you!