Going places? How to stop travel sickness spoiling your trip

Head spinning and nausea taking hold on that car, plane or boat trip? Here’s how to get on top of travel sickness, so it doesn’t ruin your ride.

You start to dread that long journey ahead – maybe it’s a bumpy boat tour, flight turbulence, or a winding car trip.

An estimated 30 per cent of people experience symptoms during a voyage, with 5 per cent suffering heavily.

Here, we look at the symptoms and action you can take to minimise symptoms of travel sickness, so it doesn’t spoil your next adventure.

What are the symptoms of travel sickness?

A sudden onset of symptoms during travel is “typical of travel sickness,” according to The House of Wellness TV co-host, Dr Nick Carr.

Symptoms can range from mild to serious and can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Generally feeling unwell and tired
  • Excessive production of saliva
  • Headache
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Burping
  • Sweating

What causes travel sickness?

Dr Carr says travel sickness is caused by a “conflict in our senses, between what we see and what the balance mechanism in our inner ear is telling us.”

It can also be caused by visual experiences such as playing video games or watching spinning objects.

Common causes of motion sickness include:

  • Rocking in a boat
  • Air turbulence in a plane
  • Travelling in a car and not being able to see the horizon
  • Reading in a car
  • Not having enough air circulating in a car


How do you stop travel sickness?

Dr Carr suggests a combination of medication and other tips can help avoid symptoms.

“Things that actually do help include fresh air, avoiding alcohol, having plenty of water and trying to have something plain in your tummy, like dry biscuits,” Dr Carr says.

“The most effective pills include antihistamines and anticholinergics, which you can just buy at the pharmacy, and anti-nausea tablets, which need a prescription from your doctor.”

Studies show that antihistamines are likely to reduce a person’s risk of getting motion sickness symptoms but can cause drowsiness.

Dr Carr stresses the importance of taking medication well before travel and consulting your doctor regarding side effects of such medication.

“Make sure you take medication at least an hour before travel,” he says.

“If you take them once you already feel sick, they don’t work too well.”

If you forget to take medication, having some plain crackers and clear, fizzy drinks, such as ginger ale, may help to relieve nausea.

Symptoms will end once the motion stops.

Who is most prone to travel sickness?

While travel sickness can happen to anyone, children aged 2-12 years are especially susceptible, whereas infants and toddlers are generally immune.

Women are more likely to have travel sickness, especially when pregnant, menstruating or on hormone medication.

Written by Stephanie Stamatelatos.