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Tips for Dealing with Motion Sickness When Traveling

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Dealing with motion sickness when traveling isn’t easy. Here are a few tips for dealing with motion sickness while traveling. Motion sickness can affect many young children because their brain and inner ear can sense motion, but their eyes and joints won’t. This imbalance results in nausea, dizziness, sweating, and sometimes, vomiting. We have two children that suffer from queasy stomachs and sometimes they start to feel ill when we least expect it.  How do we prevent it? How can you prevent it? Well there isn’t a magic formula, but we have many suggestions that have worked for us over the years and hopefully they will work for you as well.

tips for dealing with motion sicknessBefore You Travel

1. Don’t eat a large, greasy meal before you hit the road. Try to stick with something light such as crackers or applesauce or nothing at all if it is a short trip.

Breakfast tips
Don’t eat a large meal before traveling. Photo credit: Flickr

2. If you are traveling on a plane, ship, or train, plan your seat reservations accordingly. On a plane you want to be near the wing, on a ship try to be on the lower deck in the middle of the ship, and on a train find a forward facing seat in the middle of the carriage. Finding the right seat is half the battle.

3. Drink a carbonated beverage such as ginger ale to calm the stomach 20-30 minutes before traveling.

4. Try eating a ginger chew or ginger snap. Be sure to bring these along for the journey. (Side note: Our kids don’t love the taste of the ginger chews, so we give them something to drink with it.)

5. Consider using Sea-Bands. These bands rely on an acupressure bead to put pressure on the inside of the wrist, helping to reduce nausea brought on by motion sickness. Lately, we have found these to be extremely helpful for our youngest one.

Tips for Preventing Sea Sickness
The view from a boat can be beautiful, but the motion sickness can be terrible!

6. If you are going to use medication, the options for children include chewable Dramamine and Benadryl. If you are going this route, be sure to give the medicine to your children at least a half hour before you travel and test it out ahead of time. Benadryl can make our son very crazy or very tired. It is hit or miss. That’s why I like the Sea-Bands, no medicine is involved. For adults there non-drowsy, natural options that work for some people.

7. Other travelers swear by “the patch”. This prescription only medicated patch is made for adults and is placed behind the ear at least four hours prior to any nausea inducing activity. It is supposed to help quell symptoms for up to three days. Be aware, the patch can cause dizziness and drowsiness.

8. Another option is the use of essential oils. Peppermint, ginger, and grapefruit essential oils can all help a queasy stomach.

Tips for Dealing with Motion Sickness While Traveling

1. Look out the front window so you are seeing things on the horizon.

2. Try not to read while the car is moving, this can make motion sickness worse.

3. Engage children with activities such as reading to them, playing games, or listening to music and singing along.

4. Don’t bundle up children. Warm children can become uncomfortable, and children prone to motion sickness need cool air. Try to make sure they have a cold air vent blowing directly on them if possible.

5. Try to travel during nap time. If kids start to feel sick, tell them to close their eyes and try to go to sleep.

6. Using technology as a distraction may or may not work for your child. Sometimes it helps our child to have something to focus on so he isn’t looking out the car window. I have a friend however who swears that technology in the car makes her kids have motion sickness. This one is trial and error, different for each family.

Limit Screen Time
Screens may be a good or bad thing, it just depends on the child.

7. Sit in the middle seat so you can’t look out the side windows.

8. If traveling by car, plan for extra stops along the way. Getting out and walking around helps when you are feeling sick.

9. On a train, don’t look out the window and don’t ride in the seats facing in the reverse direction of the train. Try giving children headphones to listen to music and have them sit in the middle seat if possible.

10. On a plane, make sure to have an air vent turned on to keep cool. Pull down the window shade and avoid looking outside. Sit in an aisle seat for easy access to the restroom.

Don't Take the Window Seat

Have a travel kit

1. Even with all these precautions, accidents can happen so be sure to bring gallon Ziploc bags (don’t buy generic) in case children get sick.

2. Bring wipes. Hand wipes for cleaning up body parts and bleach wipes for wiping down car surfaces.

3. If traveling by car, throw in a roll of paper towels.

Paper Towels are your best friend
Never forget the paper towels!
Photo credit: Flickr

4. Bring along some grocery bags and large trash bags to dispose of any messes. You can also use a large grocery bag to cover a car seat that may be unusable.

5. Pack a set of spare clothes. This should just be a given.

6. Pack a spare blanket to cover the car seat in case the cover on the car seat is ruined. This is better than sitting on the hard plastic for the remainder of the trip.

7. Have some food items on hand that are within easy reach, such as ginger snaps and saltines.

8. Sometimes gum or mints (with peppermint) will help calm a queasy stomach. They can also get rid of a bad taste in the mouth after they get sick.

Have you ever experienced motion sickness? How do you deal with it? 

*I am not a medical doctor. These opinions are my own and in no way constitute medical advice. Do you have any tips for dealing with motion sickness that have worked well for your family? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. I have heard that sitting in the front seat helps, but I have never thought about tums and Peptobismol. Thanks for the tips!

  2. You could consider something that was clinically trialled and proven successful for travel sickness by Westminster College of Medicine – their results published in the International Journal of Travel Medicine – then you’ve not got to worry about tale’s and guesses.

    The product trialled was non-ingested and non-invasive so there are no side effects. The product is now contained within an App called Nevasic. Look it up – it’s worth the read.

  3. Thanks for the tip!

  4. Hyland’s Motion Sickness Tablets!
    Homeopathic, tiny tablet that dissolves under tongue
    We’ve been using them for years. Amazon & some grocery stores carry them

  5. I’m an adult who gets motion sick in planes, cars, trains and boats. It stinks! I use Dramamine for long trips and plane flights and ginger gum for shorter trips. I’ve also found that sucking on an Altoid works. The mint is calming! I’ll definitely give the Sea Bands a try next time I’m in for a trip.

  6. I’ll have to try altoids. I expect it would work because of the peppermint.

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