Travel sickness, whether brought on when travelling by air, sea or car is a nightmare. If you are unprepared then the resulting mess and smell can affect other people, spreading almost like a virulent virus. On a plane or in the car the smell can take ages to disappear – not ideal if you are at the start of a touring holiday.
Travel sickness and in particular car sickness is often thought to affect mostly children, however medical opinion estimates that 80% of the population suffer from motion sickness at some point in their lives. My daughter was fine until the age of 6, when we discovered that the delay between announcing feeling sick and actually vomiting is so small as to be insignificant. Now 10, she only reads on a motorway or dual carriageway.
Motion sickness occurs when the brain can’t match the information it is receiving from:
1) Inner ears, which sense in which directions you are moving
2) Eyes, which see what direction you are moving
3) Skin receptors, which detect which parts of your body are touching the ground
4) Muscles and joint sensory receptors, which tell you if you are moving muscles and what position you are in
For example, if you are reading in a moving car, your inner ears and skin receptors are telling your brain that you are moving forward, but your eyes are on a stationary book and your muscle receptors reporting that you are sitting still. For some people this is OK, but for others some form of motion sickness will start to build up.
Motion sickness can take the form of dizziness, fatigue, and nausea which may progress to vomiting. Fear of motion sickness can make these feelings a lot worse.
So what can be done to avoid motion sickness? When I was involved in rallying 15 years ago I was fine driving, but navigating was a real problem. I loved it dearly but suffered dreadfully with motion sickness. It got so bad on one event that I could hardly walk when I finally got out of the car. Whilst I was never actually sick, the only way I could stop the nausea was not to eat from getting up in the morning to the event, which generally started in the early evening. I think you will agree this is a bit extreme!
If you often suffer from motion sickness there are a few things to try to make a journey more comfortable.
1) Avoid heavy meals for two hours before the journey. Eat small amounts of something dry such as crackers, crisps or biscuits before the journey, don’t eat any dairy products and avoid salad and fruit as it can be acidic. If possible don’t eat whilst on the trip.
2) Drink small amounts of non natural drinks. Don’t drink milk or any natural juices such as orange juice and others with citric acid. Avoid alcohol.
3) Try anti motion sickness pills, either from you doctor or homeopath.
4) Acupressure bands work well for some people.
5) Studies have shown ginger root can be effective against motion sickness. Ginger capsules are available or you can try a dose of about 1/2 teaspoon of dry powdered ginger, which is equivalent to approximately 1/3 ounce of fresh ginger root, which is roughly a 1/4-inch slice.
6) Avoid staring out the window for long periods of time as this can create motion sickness.
7) Keep still and move gently. If possible stay where there is the least movement.
8) Don’t read
9) Alternative remedies such as EFT (or tapping), hypnosis or acupuncture may help.
There are also a few things you can do to reduce the sensation of motion sickness, even when it has started.
1) Move to the point of least movement. Try and sit in the centre of the plane or in the middle of the boat. On boats it often helps to lie down, although it might feel like the last thing you want to do.
2) Sit facing forward.
3) Look at the distant scenery.
4) Get some fresh air, but keep warm.
5) Avoid talking but try not think about your motion sickness.
6) Move gently, don’t stand up or move suddenly.
Sometimes the preventatives don’t work, so, particularly with children in your nice clean car, it’s worth being prepared. Having been car sick into my grandmother’s hat at a young age, as a child I was used to travelling with a quite frankly grotesque pink potty. Whilst this would catch the offending substance, it didn’t contain it particularly well, meaning having to stop the car to remove the contents and smell.
This wasn’t too difficult in the 60s and 70s, but with so much traffic now it’s not always easy or safe to do. Plastic shopping bags offer little help. Designed to just about hold together for the trip home, they have holes in them, which prevent suffocation but reduce the ability to hold liquid. Another favourite, ice cream tubs work better than the pink potty, but rely on the child to get the lid on without spilling. Unfortunately they are wide but not very deep making spillage a distinct possibility. The best option is the sick bag, as used by airlines and ferries for many years. Sick bags work brilliantly. They are simple for children to use, they are deep so reduce spillage and the top can be rolled down, retaining the contents and the smell. Some sick bags have a clip securing the rolled down top and a flat bottom, meaning they can stand up on the floor of the car, further reducing the risk of spillage.
As companies fight to bring costs of air and ferry travel down sick bags are handed out almost on an as needed basis. The days of accumulating a stock of sick bags from an air flight seem to be over.
Nigel West – having had car sick children and frustrated with not being able to find sick bags in the shops, Nigel and his wife set up Chuckie Bags, offering sick bags in small quantities to families with car sick children, and other sufferers of motion sickness, morning sickness and sudden nausea.