I love to travel, but I have also dealt with motion sickness my whole life. I’ve gotten sick in places near and far, from the Governor’s Mansion, to a tiny island in Thailand, to a trashcan in Universal Studios Japan. Since I was old enough to ride in any type of moving vehicle, I’ve gotten sick in them. It used to be a lot worse when I was young, because I didn’t understand my motion sickness. Even now that I’m older, and I’ve had a lot of experience with it, I will sometimes get taken by surprise. So I wanted to share this post in hopes that it can help others who face a similar predicament.
I want to start by saying that everyone’s situation is different, so not all of these strategies will work for everyone. Hence, my first tip…
Get to Know Your Triggers
For me, the types of vehicles that trigger motion sickness are buses (with their frequent stop and go movement), small boats (cue rocking motion) and white water rafting. Even just typing this is bringing back bad memories. Get to know which types of movement bring on ill feelings and do as much preventative work as you can if you know there’s a possibility you’ll face any of your triggers while traveling.
Do Preventative Work
Sorry this is so grizzly, but for me, always carrying a gallon ziplock bag gives me peace of mind. If medication helps, bring your medicine in a small container with you whenever you’ll be doing movement that’s outside your normal activity. This is something that I’m not great at, but it’s important to take action to give yourself the best chance of staying well. This can take many forms. For example, If you know riding the bus is a challenge, don’t be afraid to take that empty seat. Sitting can help prolong the amount of time you can spend on a bus without getting ill. If you get sick on car rides, ask to ride shotgun with a strong flow of AC on your face. If you need to close the window on a plane to avoid seeing the motion outside, do it.
Have Remedies Ready
I’ve tried everything from essential oils, to SeaBands, to ginger candies, to Scopalamine patches, to visualizations. None of them have given me relief. Again, every person’s situation is different, however, for me, good old dramamine tends to work. If I’m going into one of my trigger situations, I take medicine 30 min ahead. I also take medicine if I didn’t get to take it ahead of time, but am experiencing symptoms. The downside is, many of these medications have drowsiness as a side effect. So it’s up to you to weight the pros and cons of your situation. For example, if I know I’m only going on a short bus ride, under around 15 minutes, even though it’s one of my triggers, I know I can manage that short time without having to take medicine, then I’m not drowsy the rest of the day. However, if I’m going into a trigger situation that I’m relatively certain will make me ill, I’ll take the medicine.
Or Respond Once You’re Already Feeling Ill…
If you didn’t get a chance to prevent, I’ve found an ice cold shower can sometimes trick your body into feeling well again, however, oftentimes, if you’re out and about, this isn’t a viable option. The more time consuming solution of sleeping until you feel better is usually more reasonable.
If you’re at a large tourist attraction, inquire if there is a nurse’s station. Sometimes, they will have quiet areas for you to lie down.
If you’re caught unprepared, try to gather as many supplies as you can. This will depend on where you are, for example, in Thailand, it meant buying a Sprite to calm my stomach and keeping the plastic bag to use (just in case), and a local who was kind enough to buy me a menthol inhaler (if you’re feeling brave, try out local remedies in the country you’re in).
Moral of the story, it may not always be perfect, but don’t let motion sickness stop you from exploring. There will be some bad times, but they will be outweighed by the good. Plan ahead as much as you can to anticipate the type of movement you’ll be doing. And pack your motion sickness kit with all of the things you deem essential. Happy travels!