How to avoid travel sickness
Summer is coming, and with less opportunity for overseas travel, many families will holiday in the UK this year. Whether heading out on the open road for a day at the beach, or a country cottage staycation, for some people a long car journey brings the fear of car sickness.
As children are particularly susceptible to car sickness — here’s our guide to avoiding it.
For two thirds of people travel sickness manifests as an unpleasant feeling of nausea but for an unfortunate 31 per cent it extends to vomiting.
The most common causes for car sickness are:
- reading while in motion
- travelling in the back seat
- travelling while tired
- a lack of fresh air
- inhaling or smelling cigarette smoke
- travelling after eating
Travel sickness can be triggered by any form of transport and is caused when your eyes tell your brain that the environment is stationary, but your balance organs say that it isn’t.
Children before the age of ten are especially sensitive to travel sickness as the nerve pathways involved are not fully developed.
How to avoid getting travel sick
- Position is important. Drivers are less likely to suffer from travel sickness as they are concentrating on the outside. If driving isn’t an option, try to sit in the front seats and open the windows to get fresh air circulating.
- Choose food and drink with care. Avoid greasy, fatty, and spicy food. Avoid alcohol, which can act as a diuretic and dehydrate you.
- Avoid travelling on an empty stomach - have a light meal 45 to 60 minutes before travelling.
- Keep your attention focused on the distant horizon to reduce your sensory input.
- Keep windows open to allow fresh air to circulate.
- Help children by using booster car seats to ensure they sit high enough to see out of the window.
- Reduce nausea-inducing movement on buses or coaches by sitting between the wheels where movement is less. Choose a seat in the area above the wings on an aeroplane.
- If not driving, close your eyes and breathe slowly while focusing on your breathing
- Distract children with talking games, singing and music
- Break up long journeys with a walk
- Sip cool water
- Avoid reading, watching films or using electronic devices
- Avoid looking at moving objects, such as passing cars
- Try ginger in the form of a tablet, biscuit or tea
- Acupressure bands may work for some people
- Consider using medication and get advice from your pharmacist
According to GP and author Dr Sarah Brewer, for travel sickness, prevention is easier than treating symptoms once they start. An antihistamine called cinnarizine works on the vomiting centre in the brain to stop nausea, and on the balance organs in the inner ear to reduce sensitivity to motion. She recommends taking cinnarizine two hours before a journey, to reduce susceptibility to motion sickness for at least 8 hours.
If driving, it’s important to seek advice from your pharmacist to avoid sedating travel sickness medication.