Travel Tips for Beating Motion Sickness

Motion sickness is a bitch, especially if you love travelling. It’s actually a miracle that I can travel at all, considering my comorbid conditions – motion sickness, anxiety, and emetophobia (pathological fear of vomiting) – so I thought I’d share some of my own tips and coping mechanisms with my fellow travellers.

Whenever I think of this topic, I always think of the classic horror movie The Fly (1986 version), where the driving force behind a scientist’s invention of a teleportation machine is his debilitating motion sickness and vertigo. Of course that story ends in a pretty gruesome way (watch it if you like creepy retro horror movies!), but I’ve definitely wished at times that I had a teleportation device to whisk myself from point A to B when travelling, to avoid 12 hour flights and nauseating bus rides.


So, since teleportation is not an option for us who suffer from motion sickness, here are some of my tips for survival!

  • Medicate yourself! For long trips (8 hours of travel +) I would recommend 75 mg of Cinnarizine. Other travel sickness medications are usually less strong, and I prefer the real deal provided it lasts for 8 hours or more (and it saves you popping pills every 2-4 hours). It also makes you drowsy, which can help to calm you, and even help you to sleep. If you are on any other meds, it is always best to check with your GP or pharmacist about possible negative interactions.
  • Choose your seat carefully. On buses and trains, sit facing forwards, preferably with a view down the carriage, or out the window. On airplanes, I generally choose a seat over the wings, as this is generally the most stable part of the plane during any turbulence. I also always choose aisle seats – online check-in is the best thing ever! In a tour bus, hired car, or taxi, try to sit shotgun, or as far towards the front as possible. Feeling like you are in an enclosed space can make motion sickness so much worse.
  • Have a safety blanket. Not an actual blanket, of course, but something that calms you. Mine, weirdly, was one of the air-sickness bags from a flight during my 2 month long Euro-trip. I kept it on me constantly, in case I needed it. I never used it, but knowing it was there calmed my nerves, and my stomach! You could also keep two plastic bags scrunched up in your handbag or pocket (double-bagging is good for emergencies). Chances are nothing will happen, but it’s comforting to have an emergency back-up plan.
  • DON’T MIX MEDS! Or, at least know the effects of mixing them. I once took a Xanax and an anti-nausea pill at the same time (I was having a panic attack about feeling ill) on a bus, and ended up totally zonked. As in, couldn’t lift my arms zonked. Combining central nervous system depressants can be dangerous, so keep that in mind when taking medications together.
  • Distract yourself. Watch movies on the plane (I find it better than trying to read, even when on anti-nausea meds), chat with your travel buddy, or try to sleep. Chances are the travel sickness meds will make you drowsy enough to sleep for a couple of hours.

Do you have any of your own tips? I’d love to hear them!

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