With spring here and summer plans on the horizon many families are having more opportunities to enjoy traveling. Trips that involve long car rides or travel by boat or plane can increase the risk of developing motion sickness. Motion sickness occurs when the brain receives discordant signals from the motion-sensing parts of the body like the inner ears and the eyes. Each person has their own susceptibility to motion sickness but the risk increases with greater movement, like travel in rough water or turbulent air. Symptoms of motion sickness can start subtly: general discomfort, feeling warm, drowsiness, and sweating. Further symptoms include increased sensitivity to smells, loss of appetite, headache, nausea and vomiting/retching.
Start off on the right foot by eating light, healthy meals/snacks beforehand and staying hydrated. Getting fresh air by rolling down the windows in the car or going to the outer decks of the boat can also be helpful. Strategies that help mitigate the development of motion sickness include avoiding looking at screens or books and taking breaks, stopping the car and walking around outside for a few moments. On planes or boats try to pick seats with reduced motion or perception of motion. Better options are sitting in the front seat of the car, sitting over the wing of the plane, or window seats on flights or trains. If starting to feel unwell, try diverting attention from feeling queasy: listen to music, sing, and look at things outside that are not moving, like the horizon. If possible, lay down and use a cool compress over the forehead.
Natural options to aid with motion sickness include ginger (ginger ale, ginger candy, ginger tea) or aromatherapy like mint or lavender. Acupressure wrist bands are inexpensive and low-risk treatments that may provide relief. Medications options include appropriate doses of over the counter Dramamine or Benadryl best given before the start of the journey. Keep in mind that these medications can often be sedating. Prescription medication like scopolamine is also available though not without its own potential side effects.