Ways to handle travel sickness

With the summer holiday season fast approaching, many people who experience travel sickness may have mixed feelings about their annual break, especially if it means going on a long journey.

Also called motion sickness, it can affect anyone of any age – though children between three and 12 years old are thought to be the most vulnerable. But while many children grow out of it by the time they’re teenagers, travel sickness can affect adults too. According to the NHS, women often experience motion sickness and those who often get migraines can also be more likely to experience motion sickness and have a migraine at the same time.

If you’ve ever experienced travel sickness, you’ll know only too well how rotten it can make you feel – dizzy, nauseated with pale, clammy skin and sometimes also a headache or feelings of drowsiness. All of those symptoms are thought to be caused by signals from your vision not matching up in your brain with signals from your sense of balance (this may explain why some people sometimes get travel sickness symptoms while watching action films or playing computer games).

Other things can make you queasy when you travel too, such as strong smells (petrol fumes is a common one), being in a stuffy environment or having eaten a big meal.

What can you do?

Thankfully there are lots of things you can do both before you set off on your journey and while you’re travelling that may help you feel more normal.

  • Before you travel, try to stay positive about your journey. According to the NHS you’re more likely to get motion sickness if you worry about it, so try to distract yourself from becoming anxious.
  • Try to get some fresh air – open a window if you can.
  • Avoid having a big meal before you set off. Smoking can make you feel worse when you travel as can drinking alcohol – so try not to smoke or drink too.
  • Where possible sit facing forwards rather than backwards – if you’re travelling by car, sitting in the front seat is the best place to keep travel sickness symptoms under control. If you’re travelling by plane, try to sit in the middle of the aircraft, over the wing, as this is where you’ll experience the least movement. The middle of a boat or ship – preferably on a lower deck – is also the ideal place to be if you have sea sickness.
  • Try not to read or look at digital devices while you’re on the move.

There are also a few treatments you can buy over the counter at your local Careway pharmacy that may help if the above self-help measures aren’t effective. Designed to treat more severe cases of motion sickness, these should be taken before you start your journey rather than when your symptoms start. They include travel sickness tablets containing active ingredients such as hyoscine and antihistamines – speak to your Careway pharmacist to find out if these remedies would be suitable for you.

If you can’t take travel sickness pills or you just prefer a more natural approach, ask your pharmacist about acupressure bands. There’s no real evidence to suggest they work for motion sickness, but it’s thought some travellers find acupressure bands helpful.

Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.

If you take medicines regularly and you’re going on holiday overseas, take a look at our article What you should know about taking medication abroad.