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How to Cope with Travel Sickness

Nothing can ruin a trip more than having to reach for the sick bag. That moment when a wave of heat washes over you, you start to feel clammy and, more than anything, the urge to resurrect last night’s dinner is hard to resist. And when all you want to do is admire the landscapes of Route 66 from your convertible, get geared up for your first dive as you cruise to the Outer Great Barrier Reef, or marvel at a steaming Hawaiian volcano from the air, it’s more than a little frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Here, Alexandra Gregg looks at the best ways to help you cope with travel sickness:

Avoid reading or looking at your phone

Looking down at your phone, book or tablet is the travel sickness kiss of death. There’s something about text and images, especially if they’re moving, that really affirms any feelings of nausea. Ignore the motion and focus on the stillness of the outdoors instead. If you admire the picturesque landscapes around you, your sickness should subside, PLUS you’ll get some great photo opportunities that you may otherwise have missed. Win-win.

Use distraction techniques

You can often talk yourself down from travel sickness, or at least try and distract your brain from it until the queasiness subsides. If you’re able, play a verbal game or simply converse with your travel companions or put on your favourite CD. If it’s really bad, I find doing maths sums in my head or out loud helps to suppress the problem. As already mentioned, avoid reading, watching a film or playing games on your phone.

Be the driver

If it’s car sickness that gets you, get behind the wheel. Just like the activities above, concentrating on the road ahead and navigating tricky tarmacs is the ultimate distraction.

Get fresh air and keep cool

I don’t usually get car sick, but that’s probably because my partner and I always take regular breaks when we hit the road: the fresh air completely squashes any woozy feelings. Boats are another thing entirely. Being below deck and unable to see the horizon can just make any nausea worse – which is what happened to me when I was on a boat to Queensland’s Agincourt Reef last year. While getting briefed about my Ocean Walker experience, the feeling of sickness hit me harder than Thor’s hammer so, as soon as I could, I got to the top deck and gulped in that sea air. When we reached the pontoon, I immediately grabbed some snorkel kit and hit the water. And just like that, the sickness was gone. Unfortunately this isn’t possible with helicopters and planes. Instead, make sure any accessible fans are on and pointed directly at you.

Go easy on your tummy

Swap fizzy drinks, milkshakes and caffeine for juice, squash or water. As for meals, eat light; a full stomach might just bring on those unwanted feelings. And if you know there are certain foods or smells that might trigger your sickness, steer clear.

Consider hypnotherapy

Have you had your travel sickness since childhood? A lot of kids grow out of any motion-related nausea before they reach adult age, so if you still haven’t it could be your brain hanging onto those feelings you had as a youngster. In a nutshell, it could be misinterpreting the information it receives when you’re in a moving car, train, boat or plane. Hypnotherapy can, in some cases, talk to your subconscious while you’re in a hypnotic state, showing your mind that the dizzy, unbalanced signal it’s receiving from your ears is wrong. It doesn’t work for everyone, but if you’ve tried everything else, this might be worth considering.

See your pharmacist or GP

When you’ve exhausted all other ideas, sometimes medication is the only solution. Try being onboard a high-power speed boat in the choppy waters of Cancun for two hours in search of whale sharks WITHOUT Dramamine – I dare you. Speak to your GP or local pharmacist before you go on holiday and they should be able to direct you towards some effective motion sickness treatments. If you forget to do it before you travel, speak to your hotel concierge or tour guide in-destination; they should be able to give you advice on local doctors and/or pharmacies.

Need more advice on travel sickness? Why not pop into one of our Flight Centre Travel Clinics? Find out more here.

Written by Alexandra Cronin (Gregg)

Once a roving local news reporter and now a travel-obsessed writer/sub, I'm head-over-heels for nature, wildlife and the ocean. When I'm not getting up close to animals and sea creatures, I'm seeking out the sets of my favourite TV shows around the world. 

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