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Tips to Beat Travel Sickness

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Travelling around the world with four children is an amazing experience and I feel blessed every day.  The kids are so adaptable and are loving the new adventures that come their way on a daily basis.  They have travelled since they were tiny and I thank my lucky stars that none of them have ever really suffered from travel sickness, because it would have been very difficult to embark on our plans if they had.  However, a rather bumpy boat trip in Patagonia made us all very queasy and so it got me thinking about what options were out there for the third of the population who suffer from motion sickness.

According to the NHS, motion sickness is a term that describes an unpleasant combination of symptoms, such as dizziness, nausea and vomiting, that can occur when you’re travelling.  It isn’t much fun that’s for sure!  Women and children under the age 12 can be more vulnerable but it can strike anyone at any time and is most common when travelling in a car, ship, plane or train.  However, I didn’t realise that people can get it on fairground rides or even whilst gaming.

The NHS says that, “Motion sickness occurs when there’s a conflict between what your eyes see and what your inner ears, which help with balance, sense.  If there’s a mismatch of information between these two systems, your brain can’t update your current status and the resulting confusion will lead to symptoms of motion sickness, such as nausea and vomiting.  For example, you can get motion sickness when travelling by car because your eyes tell your brain that you’re travelling at more than 30 miles an hour, but your vestibular system tells your brain that you’re sitting still.”  It is fascinating stuff, but miserable if you’re a sufferer.  I have a friend whose daughter was even sick on the school run!

Although you can feel powerless when travel sickness hits, there are actually some great ways to alleviate the symptoms, which don’t require the use of medication.  Although many adults swear by tablets, they can often cause drowsiness and I wouldn’t really be keen on using them with children.  Therefore I have been looking at the more alternative therapies which are available.  Although I am hoping that we won’t need them again, like a good girl scout it is best to be prepared so here are some of my tips:

  • Look at the horizon or another fixed object and try to avoid staring at moving objects like cars or other vehicles.
  • Don’t get too hot and get some fresh air when you can, either by opening a window or stopping for a short stroll.
  • Avoid heavy meals, fatty foods and alcohol but keep hydrated and always have a bottle of water to hand.
  • Don’t read or use a tablet as looking down is one of the worst things you can do.
  • Face the direction of travel. If you are on a train, always reserve a seat that allows you to go forwards.

And then there are the alternative treatments….

  1. I suffered terribly with morning sickness and ginger was really useful for that, and can work well for travel sickness too, either as a biscuit, crystallised ginger or drunk as tea before or during a journey
  2. Sea bands have a plastic stud attached to the inside of a wristband which exerts pressure and stimulates an acupressure point. Apparently it has been proven that pressure on this point relieves nausea and vomiting so it can work well for travel sickness.
  3. Car meditation! One technique that has been shown to work in a clinical trial is to breathe deeply and slowly and, while focusing on your breathing, listen to music or count backwards from 100.
  4. Sucking sweets or chewing gum.  Although eating isn’t a great idea, a boiled sweet or gum can really help.
  5. A former colleague has told me about a new product called TravelShades which sound amazing.  The glasses, invented by a farmer, use specially translucent lenses to simplify the visual signals to the brain which significantly reduces the effects of severe motion sickness.  They sound great and also have a kids version which can be pre-ordered now (with a discount of over 30% – bonus!) so could be one for the future.

For now though for us, we are safely on solid ground in Australia, but when we head off on our next journey, I will be ready for anything!

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