How to avoid car and travel sickness

Car sickness can ruin what should be an exciting start to your holiday, and even makes short journeys miserable for some unlucky passengers. Here's how to fend it off.

Don't read...

...or play games, or watch the travel DVD-player. Motion sickness happens because of a clash between two senses; your eyes see the car's interior & tell your brain you're sitting still, but your inner ear, which senses balance, tells your brain that you're on the move. 

Scientists believe this discrepancy makes your body believe you've been poisoned - that's why it wants to make you sick, to flush out whatever is causing the "hallucination". 

Focusing on a fixed spot inside the car - like a book - tends to make this effect much stronger. 

Look out of the window as much as possible, instead...

An unobstructed view of the passing scenery, without too much looking from side to side, is best, so sit in the front seat if you can. Otherwise, try swivelling yourself as comfortably as possible towards the window, and stay pointing in that direction. 

Cushions or pillows are helpful if you have to prop yourself at an angle in the back seat. If you can handle travelling backwards, you might enjoy the rear-facing seat in the boot, if you're in an estate car or people-carrier. 

Closing your eyes can also help, because it stops you from seeing anything that might confuse your body. Whether you do this or look outside, it's best to start doing either before any nausea sets in; that feeling can be hard to shake, once it starts.

Stay cool

Being too hot can make nausea and headaches worse even when you're motionless, and it's so much worse when you're on the move. Open the window or sun-roof, close them both and turn the air-con on, use a hand-held fan, splash yourself with a little water, or use wet-wipes to keep your skin moist. You can combine any of these for maximum effect, although your air-con won't work with the windows open!


Suck a boiled sweet, or chew gum

Ginger is a good natural remedy for nausea, and peppermint soothes the stomach and has a cooling effect, so either are worth trying. Avoid sucking sweets if you're sleepy, as they can slip down your throat when you nod off - it's hard to perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre at 90mph.

Stay hydrated

Regular sips of water can help fend off nausea and significantly reduce your chances of getting a headache. If you already feel sick, try fizzy mineral water - the bubbles can really help disperse that nasty feeling in your stomach. Ginger beer is good too, since it combines ginger and bubbles! 


If nothing else works, ask your pharmacist for an over-the-counter travel sickness medication, but be aware that these can wear off quite fast, and often make you drowsy. If they don't last long enough, you can get slow-release patches on prescription. Paracetamol or antihistamine (hay fever tablets) can also help - try one an hour before you travel, as they can take a while to work.


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Family Motoring | Journey Planning

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