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My travel mate has a big problem when we are traveling together. He gets travel sick very fast. Obviously there is medicine you can take to avoid it, but aren't there any other ways to avoid getting travel sickness?

On a boat, I know that it is good to focus on a thing that is not moving, but on the ocean, where you can only see water, it is kind of difficult. On the train you can try to sit in the direction of motion, but this does not always help. In the car it helps to sit in the front, or drive by yourself, but it is also not always possible. In a plane I don't know any useful tip.

So my question is, what are useful tricks and tips to avoid getting travel sick in various vehicles, such as planes, trains, ships, cars, coaches or even elephants or camels?

  • See travel.stackexchange.com/q/248/46 – Kate Gregory Aug 29 '11 at 13:59
  • Yes that gives some hints, but I´m also interested in avoiding nausea in other vehicles, and especially simple techniques and no medicaments to avoid it. – RoflcoptrException Aug 29 '11 at 17:35
  • Just curious, what do you have against the medicines? They do work really well. – AtlasRN Aug 30 '11 at 1:38
  • Has your friend tried sleeping while traveling? – AtlasRN Aug 30 '11 at 1:42
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    Fair enough. Just as a nurse, I highly recommend the medications I posted on the previous posts. They work extremely well for motion sickness and would probably work even better when combined with nonmedicinal techniques. But antivert and zofran are the drugs of choice in my professional option when combating motion sickness. – AtlasRN Aug 30 '11 at 13:57
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Motion sickness comes about as a result of a disconnect between movement which you think you're seeing and the movement your body feels. Eg on a plane it looks like you're still, but your body can feel bumps and jumps. Or in a car when you're reading, the page stays still or maybe moves up and down with bumps, but you're going around corners and the like.

According to Wiki, over-the-counter and prescription medications are readily available, such as Dramamine (dimenhydrinate), Stugeron (cinnarizine), and Bonine/Antivert (meclozine). Scopolamine is effective and is sometimes used in the form of transdermal patches (1.5 mg) or as a newer tablet form (0.4 mg). The selection of a transdermal patch or scopolamine tablet is determined by a doctor after consideration of the patient's age, weight, and length of treatment time required.

Ginger root is a natural alternative you can try as well.

But funnily, one of the simplest solutions is to close your eyes. It's counterintuitive (to me at least) but by doing so you remove any conflict in perceived movement between your eyes and body, and your brain switches to just listening to felt movement. As a result, the confusion ceases and your body starts to recover.

Hope that helps!

  • Mark, I tried to edit the spelling of Meclizine. It wouldn't let me. If you wouldn't mind fixing that. Thanks! – AtlasRN Aug 30 '11 at 13:59
  • It's the correct spelling: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meclozine (Meclizine is acceptable too) – Mark Mayo Aug 30 '11 at 14:06
  • +1 Closing my eyes is the most efficient way I found to avoid motion sickness on planes. – mouviciel Sep 2 '11 at 13:41
  • My experience was exactly the opposite: watching the horizon was the best prevention and the best cure. I guess if you are in a vehicle where you cannot see the outside (steerage? a cargo plane? the trunk of a car?), then closing your eyes is the next best way to relieve the conflict. – Malvolio Sep 13 '11 at 1:00
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I got sick sometimes in mini-buses going very fast on windy mountain roads. It helped switching into the front seat next to the driver and watching the road ahead rather then looking out through the side window. I think I never got sick in the front seat.

  • Yes that's a good hint but unfortunately there is only 1 front seat ;) – RoflcoptrException Nov 21 '11 at 12:31
  • And sometimes the view in the front seat can invoke worse fear than the lack of view invokes motion sickness. In chicken buses in Mexico and Central America I learned to prefer a spot halfway between the front and rear axles. More balanced bumpiness and more blissful ignorance of what the driver was doing. – hippietrail Nov 21 '11 at 14:29
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    1 front seat? In many countries there are usually two if not three people in the front plus the driver. – Peter Hahndorf Nov 21 '11 at 15:55
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Since anti-nausea medicine (anti-emetic) isn't too common on the road, if you are traveling and in the need of drugs because of motion sickness, a large dose of antihistamine (e.g. Benadryl) can help with symptoms.

If you are trying to avoid drugs all together, some remedies that have worked for me are:

  1. Eat something. It's counter-intuitive when you feel like vomiting, but having a fuller stomach eases the nausea. Salty snacks that are light on oil seem to work particularly well.
  2. Ginger ale, the more ginger content the better.
  3. Carbonated drinks, preferably sugar-free. The bubbles can induce burping, which alleviates some of the nausea.
  4. Sit where there is the least amount of motion in whatever vehicle you are on. In road vehicles, that is generally in the front; on planes, over the wings; on boats, near the bow; etc.
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    On old buses in underdeveloped countries I always aim to sit mid-way between the front and rear axles. – hippietrail Nov 22 '11 at 11:16
  • Not sure if it applies for all buses, but I would avoid sitting right at the "bus wheels" spot too. – Hoàng Long Apr 2 '17 at 3:15
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I used to have a major problem with motion sickness when I was a kid and I almost always ended throwing up when travelling by car (strangely, never on a plane or trains though). Often took medicines to combat motion sickness, eventually grew out of it. Mark's answer has summed up the causes which lead to motion sickness so I won't repeat them. Since you asked for a solution other than medicines, here's what helped me (your mileage may vary):

  • I felt suffocated every time I sat inside a car; keeping a window cracked open helped.
  • Not eating meals right before travelling, if I could.
  • Mints (not gum or chewy mints though). When I used to get motion sickness, I would get a vile taste in my mouth which often led to vomitting. Mints helped, for some reason.
0

Another possible option: I have seen a few news articles recently about these motion sickness "glasses" - they are essentially some spirit levels on a glasses-like frame. The manufacturers claim you only need to wear them for 10 minutes until your brain gets used to the movement, though I have not tried them personally.

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What helped me on a boat was laying down, get one ear on the bed or seat and relax. I could even fall asleep in that position. As soon as I got up from laying down I was sick again on that trip, felt sick on others where the motion sickness was not as bad.

In airplanes I have used one earplug, a trick I have heard about but can not confirm working, as I am not that often sick in planes.
Some people report that special bracelets or plasters which puts a item to the skin help. I have never tried those. Here is a link to an answer of someone who reports being helped by them.

One thing that did never help me, when it was still tried, was medication. Without I would be sick once every leg of a car travel, with medication I would be sick all the time in the car. But as I have not suffered being car sick (much) since the middle of my teens, I have not use medication as an adult.

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