Motion Sickness

Motion sickness is extremely common – most of us get it at some time or another and it can put a real downer on a holiday, particularly if you are touring or have a long journey to make. Some people are very badly or consistently afflicted and it can also feel highly embarrassing when travelling with people you don’t know.

What causes it?
According to , motion sickness is caused by the brain receiving conflicting messages from the eyes and the inner ear. If you are sitting on a coach for example and cannot see out, your eyes may send a signal to the brain that you are not moving. However the inner ear, which controls balance, will detect the movement of the coach. The brain becomes thoroughly confused by this and it makes you feel ill.

One of the first symptoms of motion sickness is sleepiness and this is why so many people are able to sleep while in transit. Some people are naturally more prone to it such as those with inner ear infections or diabetes, and it is very common in pregnancy.

What can I do to prevent it?
There are a great many remedies for motion sickness on the market. Many people recommend ginger or peppermint for settling the stomach. There are a number of over-the-counter remedies available which are effective, but they can make you drowsy so are not suitable if you are driving or generally want to be alert for the journey. Always check the information that comes with the pills to see if they are suitable for you.

The best method of prevention is to find the centre of gravity in the vehicle in which you are travelling as the movement here is less. This is usually directly in the middle. Try and obtain a window seat or a good view out, as this helps the eyes to recognise that you are moving. Look forwards at the horizon while travelling. Listen to music and try and keep your mind off feeling sick, but avoid reading and looking through binoculars. If possible, avoid sitting near strong smells such as smoke, diesel fumes or food and get plenty of fresh air.

Should I eat?
It might be daunting to do so but the stomach is more stable when there is a small amount of food in it. Bland, easily-digestible food such as breadsticks and cream crackers are ideal and nibble at regular intervals. Sweet biscuits can perk you up if you are feeling groggy. Don’t eat anything heavy or greasy before a journey, and drink plenty of water but sip, rather than guzzle – this is very important if you are being sick.

And if you still feel ill…
Don’t be embarrassed – most people around you, if they have even noticed, will be sympathetic and concerned rather than amused (they have probably experienced the same before!). Try and lie down and close your eyes for a few minutes or place your head between your knees until the nausea passes. It is normal to feel slightly shaky for a day or so after a long journey – this is due to your brain now having to get used to not travelling! Seek medical advice if you continue to feel unwell for an extended period.

And finally – a heartening fact for you. During the Space Shuttle missions, over 90% of the astronauts needed to take medication of some description. Nearly half of that medication was for motion sickness*. Even the best of us get it!

Don’t forget your travel insurance!
Hopefully you will not have to contend with anything more serious than motion sickness on your trip but if you do, you would be glad to have taken out travel insurance. 24/7 travel insurance offers cover for medical expenses up to £5m on its Standard Single trip and Annual Multi-trip policies and premiums start from just £4.86** – well worth it for your peace of mind.

**Premium £4.86 includes Insurance Premium Tax; based on an individual traveller aged under 55 taking out a ‘standard’ Single Trip policy for 3 days in Europe and purchased within 14 days of departure date. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press and are subject to change.