Going to a school three hours away has its perks. You get to start fresh, be introduced to a new area you’re not familiar with, make friends from a completely different background and so much more. Unfortunately, it also has its downfalls. One negative is that I, a girl who has gotten extreme motion sickness over the past few years, has to take a four-hour bus ride following a one-hour car ride from the bus station. See, a bus ride is much different than a car ride. The bus is a lot bigger, which means it's a lot bumpier and doesn’t turn quite as smoothly. You don’t know what you’re going into with a bus ride either. You could end up with a seat to yourself, or be squished because some mom and her baby felt the need to sit next to you and your bulky backpack—a scenario I unfortunately know from experience). Again, getting motion sick easily is not ideal in any travel situation. As someone whose quickly learned how to deal with these scenarios, let me pass on some tips to make traveling easier, and to help you avoid the use of a barf bag.
1. Make Dramamine or Airborne your best friend.
Forget Motrin, Tums or anything else that’s designed to help with an upset stomach. These medicines are specifically designed to prevent motion sickness. I’ve never used Airborne, but I know people who prefer that to Dramamine because it’s a powder that goes into water, or another beverage of choice, rather than a chewable tablet or pill. You can find it in your local drug store or grocery store. Grab some of those and take it an hour before your departure. Precaution, though: it does not stop headaches, dizziness or any other non-stomach related symptoms of motion sickness.
2. Figure out what method of transportation you prefer.
It’s more than likely you have more than one way to get to your destination. Don’t feel as though you’re stuck taking a train if you prefer a plane, or vice versa. The key to motion sickness is figuring out which method of transportation causes the least trouble for you, and sticking to that. Personally, I prefer a car ride to anything else, because I know I can trust the driver of the car since I know them. Plus, that makes it possible for me to rest and not worry about anything, because I am with people I trust.
3. Get the window seat, if possible.
Just the idea of being trapped in a metal steel death trap for hours can make me sick, let alone being squished in between other people. When you get the window seat, you have somewhere to focus your eyes and energy on. You can just stare out the window and focus on the clouds, road signs or anything else to help prevent you from feeling sick.
4. Sleep is not for the weak.
Sleeping does not always come easy to people when they travel, but that doesn’t mean it’s not useful. Closing your eyes, even for a short nap, can make all the difference. It’s your body’s way of taking a break, focusing on something else besides the motion of the vehicle. This does not, however, always work for everyone. Some people feel as though the motion becomes more clear when they try and sleep, because that’s the main sense they have access to when sleeping. Take this tip with caution, because you know your body the best.
5. Stay hydrated and nourished.
You’d think the last thing you’d want to do is drink or eat en route, but a belly that is hungry or dehydrated is just as bad as one upset by travel. Of course, you should skip any dairy products, caffeine, high sugar products or anything too greasy. But some crackers and a bottle of water can go a long way with helping to calm an upset stomach.
6. Find comfort items
Whether you’re 6 or 60, there are items you own that give you comfort because you have them. It could be a blanket or stuffed animal, a jacket, your favorite phone case or even a lucky necklace. Keep that with you while you travel. Whenever you start to feel sick, hold it tight to help relax.
7. Avoid traditional entertainment options.
You know how when you’re bored at home, you have multiple options? You can watch TV or a movie, read a book, do a puzzle, play on your computer or phone, etc. You can’t do any of that when traveling. Sorry, but odds are it won’t help with your sickness. The idea of multitasking while ensuring you don’t throw up is a contradiction. Ditch the book for a verbal car game, some light discussion or a fun playlist on your phone.
8. Learn some breathing exercises.
It may sound crazy, but a lot of people who suffer from motion sickness also have travel anxiety! Who would have guessed that the people who get sick while traveling are worried about traveling?
Sarcasm aside, techniques often used during an anxiety attack may actually help to prevent sickness as well. Using your energy to focus on your breathing can not only help calm any fears you have, but also help calm your stomach in the process too.
9. Don’t be afraid to stop.
Whether you need to go use the bathroom a few times, pull over to get fresh air or walk around the bus/boat/train/plane, do it. You know what you need to do to comfort your body. If you can do it safely, do it. Disclaimer: Don’t walk around your car, that’s not going to end well.
10. Don’t be ashamed if you do get sick.
It happens. Sometimes no matter what you do, you still get sick in the end. Don’t feel bad if it does happen. Just own up to it, and make sure to clean up the mess. Sometimes, you just cannot prevent the inevitable.
Godspeed to all of you who get motion sick. We can survive our road trips, endless plane rides and monumental journeys this summer.