Today’s guest post comes from one of my readers, Jim Wang of Wanderlust Journey, and covers a topic I have no experience with other than my wicked awful bout of gastroenteritis in Ireland. I have a stomach of steel and can tolerate the choppiest seas and the bumpiest roads. Friends have often marveled how I can read a book for hours while in the car.
But for you suckers, here’s some solid advice.
I haven’t always suffered from motion sickness, but recent events have led me to realise that travel sometimes makes me turn a little bit green.
I first noticed it when I stayed at a Florida resort and my friend hired a boat for her birthday. I had the ‘on-the-boat-off-the-boat’ swaying feeling for hours afterwards. I was in denial for a while. “I’m a traveller, I don’t get sick!” I told myself. I’m not the type to get embarrassed easily, but vomiting on a London tube last year took the biscuit. Classy. As a result, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’m not a superhuman traveller. Most of the time I am fine, but on the odd occasion, that queasy feeling creeps up on me.
So here are some of the little tricks I have learnt to combat motion sickness while backpacking.
Take travel sickness tablets: My main weapon of choice is a box of travel sickness tablets, although I should give you some words of warning. I bought some tablets when I went sailing the Whitsundays and the pharmacist informed me, “They may make you a little drowsy.” Drowsy was an understatement. Within 5 minutes of setting sail I lay on the deck in the sun and was out like a light. Dead to the world, I only woke up when someone prodded me to go snorkelling, to which my response was, “Let me sleep! Just 5 more minutes.”
But I popped a few travel sickness pills when I went shark cage diving in Australia; there was no way I was chancing it. I’m glad I did, because the swell was so bad that everyone else was hurling over the side of the boat whilst I had a nap. Ironically, I was the only one who seemed perfectly fine, so the crew offered me a job on the boat!
Carry electrolytes: Electrolytes are my saviours. Electrolytes are used to treat dehydration and replace any essential body salts, so they’re particularly great if you have a hangover. They come in small sachets and you can dissolve them in a bottle of water. OK, so when you first take a sip your instinct might be to spit it back out in disgust, but trust me, you’ll feel so much better after drinking it. Don’t travel on an empty stomach and make sure you eat a snack as soon as you get up in the morning.
Sit at the front: When I’m going on a long bus journey or in a car, I always make sure I sit at the front. I have no idea why it makes a difference, but sitting up-front with the window down will make you feel a million times better. There’s nothing worse than sitting in the back of the car on windy roads. If you’re travelling by boat, sit on the top deck, or if you’re on a plane, sitting over the wing is supposed to help. Fresh air does wonders.
Look on the horizon: Looking on the horizon helps steady your balance, so find a fixed point in the distance and keep looking out of the window. Sometimes I’ve found it helps to close my eyes and focus on thinking about something other than the somersaults in my stomach. Whatever you do, don’t sit and read, watch TV or look down for too long.
Discreet toilets are your friends: If you’ve turned a whiter shade of pale, size up where the nearest toilets are and prepare–the more discreet the better. If you suffer from severe motion sickness, make sure you have a plastic bag on hand.
Try Ginger and pressure-point wrist bands: Some people say ingesting ginger helps. You can buy ginger candy in the pharmacy or drink ginger tea. If you find acupressure wrist bands work, use those.
Do you have any remedies? Share them!