Motion Sickness While Travelling -Tips & Home Remedies

Reader's Query

Paridhi asks:
I often suffer from nausea while travelling, especially in a car. Please help and preferably suggest tips and home remedies for the same.

Response: What you are experiencing while travelling is called “motion sickness”. This occurs because the brain receives conflicting information about motion from the sensory organs. For instance, when you are in a moving car, the inner ear senses motion but the eyes convey to the brain that everything is still.  These contradictory signals received by the brain may cause motion sickness or kinetosis.  Read more about in Wikipedia.

Just because you experience motion sickness and someone else doesn’t, does not mean that something’s wrong with you. Each person’s body constitution is different and he/she may respond accordingly. Some people are more susceptible to motion sickness than others. Children in the age group of 4-10, women during menstruation, pregnant women and people prone to headaches or migraines are more predisposed.

The intensity of the symptoms also varies from person to person and also depends on the stimulus that’s causing it in the first place as well as the amount of time that a person is exposed to it. Once the stimulus is removed, say the movement is stopped, the symptoms may stop within a few minutes or within a few hours.  

Most common symptoms experienced during motion sickness are nausea and vomiting. There may also be a general feeling of uneasiness, fatigue and breaking into a cold sweat and a person may turn pale and look unwell. Some may experience headache and dizziness also.

As for me, I have experienced motion sickness a number of times.  When I was a kid, travelling for long distances in buses also made me sick but now I experience no such thing as my body seems to have got used to it. But travelling in cars sometimes makes me uneasy. I don’t vomit but do experience uneasiness and nausea especially if I have had a heavy meal prior to travelling or if the person at the wheel isn’t driving the car smoothly or if the roads are really bad which is quite common in a country like India.

 I’ve also noticed that drinking buttermilk or having curds before travelling also makes me uneasy.  I never experienced motion sickness on a plane but once when I was served greasy stuff like paneer, I did experience uneasiness and nausea during the journey.  

So it’s most important to identify the stimulus that’s triggering the sickness in you and take precautionary measures.

Smell Lemons
Smelling lemon or lemon peels help relieve nauseous feelings.

It may not be possible to prevent motion sickness altogether, especially if you are prone to it but with these tips you can prevent and lessen the severity of the symptoms.

  •   Avoid heavy meals, spicy, rich foods and difficult to digest foods before the commencement of your journey. However your stomach must neither be too full not too empty. 
  • Also avoid the consumption of foods that don’t ‘suit’ you. In my case,  dairy products like buttermilk, yogurt and paneer / cheese are a strict no-no. Also there should be a gap of at least 2 hours after a meal before your travelling. Avoid foods with strong odours too.
  • Try to sit in the front seat of the car if possible.
  • Also avoid reading in the car. 
  •  Open the windows of the car and let fresh air in to make you comfortable.
  • Try to remain in a relaxed frame of mind and keep telling yourself that you are feeling just fine. Take deep breaths and stay calm. If we hear others talking how sick they are feeling, you too may experience such symptoms. So isolate yourself from such persons or avoid such talks.
  •  Smelling a lemon, lemon peel or an orange peel also drives away the nauseous feeling.
  • Before travelling, shred some ginger into slices and carry them along with you and when you feel uneasy pop a piece into your mouth at regular intervals and it may make you feel better.
  • You can also prepare lemon juice and carry it in a bottle along with you. Squeeze a lemon in sufficient water and add honey & a pinch of salt to it and pour it in the bottle. Sip a little of it when you are feeling nauseous. This may relieve your unease.
  • Sucking juice of betel leaves / paan can also help with nausea and vomiting sensation. Carry betel leaves with you while travelling and chew the leaves at times.
  • Chewing fresh  mint / pudina leaves may also help.
  •  Sometimes it helps if you close your eyes and take a short nap. It will help to avoid sensory conflict. When you wake up from your nap, you’ll feel better.
  • Take breaks and stop the car and get out at regular intervals if it’s a long distance journey. You’ll feel better.
  • Usually the uneasiness from your motion sickness gets resolved within a few minutes after you get down from the car but sometimes may last for a few hours. If your discomfort persists even after the journey, consume infusion of dried tulsi / holy basil leaves with honey twice or thrice a day.

If none of the home-remedies work for you, you’ll have to consult a doctor who may prescribe a pill to be taken an hour before the journey.
(By Smitha)

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  1. Close your eyes and try to sleep.
    Do not read or watch a film.
    It is advisable not to stare at moving objects such as waves or other cars. Instead, look ahead, a little above the horizon, at a fixed place.
    Avoid heavy meals or alcohol before and during travelling. It may also be worth avoiding spicy or fatty food.

  2. Avoiding strong food odors may also help prevent nausea.


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