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23 Mar 2020
Georgina Kent Georgina Kent

How to stop travel sickness


Two people in car and the passenger is being sick into a brown bag

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At some point in your life, you may have suffered from some form of car or travel sickness. Whether as a child on a road trip, or as a grown up with your head buried in a good book. But why do people suffer with travel sickness? And, what can we do to ease it? 

What is travel sickness and why do we get it? 

Travel sickness is the body’s response to the confusion of being still, but your eyes seeing movement. Your eyes then tell your brain that you’re moving, although you’re not, throwing everything out of whack. 

Neuroscientist Dean Burnett explains it best in his book, The Idiot Brain:

"Travelling in a car confuses the brain because it picks up so many mixed signals from the body.

“Although the muscles are motionless, the eyes tell the brain you are moving.

“In evolutionary terms, the only thing that can cause a sensory mismatch like that is a neurotoxin or poison.

“So the brain thinks, essentially, it's been being poisoned. When it's been poisoned, the first thing it does is get rid of the poison, aka throwing up.". 

READ MORE: Safe motorway driving

What can I do to stop travel sickness? 

While it doesn’t always work and isn’t for everyone, one of the best things you can do is look out of the window. Your brain can register that things are moving and that you’re moving, so hopefully won't make you throw up. Of course, that’s not always the case, but this should be your first port-of-call. 

If you’re travelling on a ferry or boat, try to stay as close as you can to the centre. Both the front and back of the boat are what move the most and trigger our sickness. If you stay in the centre, the motion is much less, making you less likely to be sick. 

Another trick that can help is to keep an eye on the horizon line, or any fixed point that's ahead of you. 

There are also a couple of gentle remedies you can try to see if they work for you. 

READ MORE: How to avoid driving stress

Sea Bands 

These are little fabric wrist bands that have a circular plastic disc in them. The plastic disc acts as an acupressure point, helping to relieve nausea. 

Check prices for nausea relief wristbands on Amazon

Motion Sickness Patches 

These are little patches, much like stop-smoking patches, that you put either on the navel or the back of your ear.

They work by expanding the capillaries of the skin around the vagal nerve. 

The vagal nerve is in the gastrointestinal tract. Adding this patch improves the microcirculation of the body. It helps to increase the amount of oxygen to the brain, keeping your brain refreshed and preventing nausea. 

Check prices for motion sickness pads on Amazon


For centuries people have raved about the soothing power ginger has on the gut. It could be as simple as having some ginger nut biscuits before you set off or having some ginger supplements. The supplements are made up of concentrated ground ginger powder. 

Check prices for ginger root extract on Amazon


A puppy looking over the back seat of a car into the boot

Why does my dog get travel sick? 

Much like with humans, dogs can get car sick too. With humans, it’s most often children who are affected by car sickness. The same is typical for dogs, as puppies normally get travel sick more often than adult dogs. 

If your dog gets travel sick, you’ll notice a few signs that they're struggling. Look out for: 

  • Your dog finding it difficult to settle

  • More drooling than normal

  • Throwing up

  • Panting a lot

With puppies, the part of their ear that handles balance isn’t fully developed yet. It’s that lack of development that causes travel sickness. As they get older and the ear becomes fully formed, the travel sickness usually subsides. 

READ MORE: Keeping your dog safe in the car

How can I help my dog? 

Much in the same way you can help adults, by facing forwards to help see the horizon. Putting your dog in a harness will help to face them forwards. You could opt for a dog cage instead which is also safe but gives them some movement. The silver lining with that one is it helps stop the sick going on the fabric of your car. 

Try to make your dog as comfortable as possible, making sure to take plenty of breaks to get some fresh air.

READ MORE: Safe driving: animals on the road


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