Do you love to go? Camping, short road trips, long road trips, hiking, biking, canoeing, sightseeing. Any and all of it, I love to GO! One issue; Motion sickness.
Even as a child I struggled with getting “car sick.” I recall, rather vividly, riding in the car on our way to the Boundary Waters with my family. I told my mom, “I think I’m going to throw up.” She gave me a Pringles canister and told me to use that. Now, she didn’t think I was serious, just being dramatic. A valid assumption with kids on a long car ride. Sure enough, I puked in a the canister and didn’t eat Pringles again for roughly 20 years.
Motion sickness can really wreck havoc on your vacation and put on damper on your trip companions. My goal throughout this post is to assist you in managing your affliction so you can get back to doing the things you love with the confidence of keeping your cookies down… and not in a Pringles can.
Know You Sickness
Everyone is different when it comes to motion sickness. I always referred to it as “car sickness” because I only become nauseated in a car. Not a boat, canoes are great, planes are no problem. Just the car. With the exception of when I was pregnant, the motion sickness only comes on when I am not the one driving. While pregnant, I did become nauseated while driving as well. It was great… not!
The key to avoiding motion sickness altogether is to first determine when, where, and during which activities you begin to feel symptoms.
Be Prepared and Have a Plan
It’s pretty rare that one would have to drive a great distance at a moments notice. There is usually a great deal of planning before taking off on a grand adventure, add your motion sickness remedies into your plan. This is not something to overlook or push off. Motion sickness really can cause delays, ruin a good time, and even break a trip.
After figuring out what triggers your symptoms and what remedies them, be sure to have a plan to put into action prior to your trip. And have a Plan B and maybe even a Plan C. Knowing that you have what you need at the ready when you come down with that nausea can ease your anxiety that likely comes with the atrocious feeling.
Pro Tip: Keep a stash of what works for you in your vehicle, travel bag, purse, or whatever you always have with you. I have three different versions of Dramamine in the center console of my vehicle at all times.
There’s a variety of different products out there to aid in this annoying ailment. I’ve tried all of the ones I’m listing for you. Some work for me, some don’t. Like I said previously; motion sickness acts differently for everyone and is brought on by different environments and activities. Try these different remedies and see what works. It’s worth the trial and error process to develop a solid plan for your future adventures.
Speak with your doctor prior to remedying your motion sickness to rule out any underlying conditions and to ensure these products are safe for you.
Comes in little tablets, take a dose 30 minutes before travel.
Pro: It works. It definitely works. Even if it didn’t work, one cannot toss their cookies if one is unconscious. This brings me to cons…
Con: You will no longer be awake. This remedy will cause major drowsiness, I do not recommend taking this if you plan on driving at all. Passengers only. Another drawback; the taste is nasty, be sure to have a chaser.
Less Drowsy Dramamine
Just like it says in the name, it’s less drowsy Dramamine. Same protocol, take a dose 30 minutes before travel.
Pro: Still reduces nausea while not completely incapacitating you.
Con: The taste is no better than the original. While you won’t be completely knocked out, it does still cause some drowsiness.
Dramamine Naturals/Dietary Supplement Non-Drowsy
A more natural alternative and my favorite, comes in a little capsule with powdered ginger inside. Take a dose 30 minutes prior to travel.
Pro: Dramamine Naturals is the bee’s knees. No drowsiness, no nasty after taste, no real drugs. It’s ginger in a capsule.
Con: The capsule is a bit larger than the other tablets, but that’s about it. If you don’t like ginger, your future burps might be a little less than desirable.
Tip: Take the capsules with a beverage. This is a must. I forgot to grab my water from the back of my Pathfinder on our last long drive and regretted it. Trying to take them dry resulted in an unpleasant burning sensation in my throat, but it still kept the nausea at bay.
This is like a compacted ginger tablet.
Pro: Still a more natural approach in the fight against vomiting.
Con: This one didn’t work so great. For the first couple of hours into the road trip it was fine, it went down hill after that. I began to have gross tasting burps and the nausea began to creep back up. We had to stop a few times so I could walk around a while before then end of the drive.
Motion Sickness Bands
Little bands with knobs that press on pressure points in the wrist.
Pro: No medication needed. It is just an elastic cuff with a plastic knob.
Con: They can become warm, maybe a little itchy.
Side note: They do not work for me, but they did work for my aunt. I think this one is more of a mind over matter remedy, but that’s just my opinion. Worth a try, maybe it takes the right person.
Dramamine Ginger Chews
Small individually wrapped chewable. Chew as needed.
Pro: No drowsiness. Taken as needed, good for short drives where a full dose of other remedies wouldn’t be needed.
Con: They are not the best flavor in the world, in my opinion. The texture is similar to loose gum.
The flavor isn’t great and the texture actually brought on a different kind of nausea for me. Not my favorite, but if you’re a real ginger fan, perhaps it’s worth a try.
Peppermint essential oil, any brand works. No need to make the whole car stink like peppermint, just a quick whiff under the nose will do. I am not an essential oil nut, but this one actually works. Don’t wear the oil or ingest it, simply take the cap off and sniff it when nausea starts creeping up.
Pro: The scent of the oil is refreshing, great for temporary relief on shorter drives. No long term effects or drowsiness.
Con: The relief doesn’t last very long. Some don’t like the scent of peppermint.
No matter which remedy I am utilizing, this is in my arsenal. If I have forgotten to take my remedy prior to my departure, this right here will get me through until the medication kicks in.
Pro: Usually made with real ginger, no terrible aftertaste, causes excellent burps that can relieve some nausea that has already started.
Con: It’s not the healthiest option being higher in sugar and all. If you lack self control, slamming the beverage will cause a gut rot feeling rather than helping you. It works best to sip long term.
Tip: Keep a couple of bottles on ice in a well insulated cooler for the return trip home. We stored a few bottles in my parent’s Yeti cooler with ice for four days, they were cool and crisp on the ride back.
Prescription Nausea Medication
If you really can’t find anything to help you, seek a doctors help. There are prescription nausea medications, I have not tried these for motion sickness, but I found them effective while pregnant.
Keeping Cool: This is one of my must do’s in the car. While not every nausea inducing activity has this option, keeping cool in the car or an airplane is doable. On hot days when the vehicle doesn’t cool very quickly or the sun is beating into the window at just the wrong angle, I stick my finger tips out a small crack in the window. The wind cools them off and I put them on the back of my neck, works like a charm. Keeping an ice pack in the cooler to place on the back of your neck or over your eyes can be helpful as well. When we lived in California we had “cooling clothes,” these are helpful as well.
Breath: Well duh. Of course you have to breath. But controlling that breathing can help, especially when symptoms have already shown their ugly faces. Slow and controlled breathing will absolutely help. Having cold airflow is even better. Keeping the kids quiet is the best. **Wink
Close Your Eyes: This one is not my favorite, but it does work occasionally. The idea is to not look at the world passing by…. but isn’t that whole point of a road trip? This would be ideal on a plane, namely for those suffering from a bit of anxiety as well.
Look Forward: Here’s a good one. Great alternative to closing your eyes if you don’t want to miss out, like me. Sitting in the front passengers seat is the next best thing to driving for the motion sick traveler. If that’s not an option, sitting in the middle seat in the back to keep the view forward works a bit too.
Sleep: Obviously, you won’t be throwing up if you’re sleeping. If you can sleep in the car right away before getting nauseated, cheers to you! I can’t do that. I’ll be tossing cookies well before falling asleep. Drowsy Dramamine will knock me out and we get a two for one remedy. Problem here is, I don’t like to miss the journey. I slept on the way Florida for just a few hours and Scott informed me of a really cool bridge that I missed. This remedy is not for me.
Avoid Greasy Foods: This is one that I recently discovered. Eating warm, fatty, or greasy foods while in motion can aggravate motion sickness. Keep snacks light and healthy. Nothing heavy or greasy, and don’t overeat.
Don’t Read: Stay off your phone and keep your nose out of the books. The only thing you should be reading is the map or GPS if your are the navigator. Reading gets me every time, even with Dramamine.
Bags/Buckets: Keep bags, buckets, or vomit bags on hand. Nothing is worse than vomit on car interior. That smell doesn’t like to come out. Ice cream pails with a lid are great, they have a lid to contain the smell until you get to a place to toss it. We’ve received actual vomit bags from the doctors office after procedures. Saving them in the car was great until I used them up. In a pinch, a dog poop bag will catch a mess too. Don’t upchuck into a pringles can, the effects are long lasting.
Pull over: Don’t be afraid to pull over in a safe area. If there is a risk that someone might vomit, we pull over. Even if they don’t toss their cookies, walking around will help. Especially when it is cool outside. On a spring trip, I hadn’t taken my Dramamine Naturals soon enough. We pulled over, I hopped out and stuck my hands in one of the last snowbanks. Five minutes of walking around beats an hour of scrubbing car upholstery.
Cleaning supplies: If all of your efforts fail, having cleaning supplies stashed in the car is so darn convenient. Many SUV’s now have a storage compartment in the back. Mine is stocked with paper towels, bags, a small air freshener spray and Clorox wipes.
Don’t let motion sickness hinder your love of adventure. With everything there is to do and see in this world, it’s absolutely worth figuring out your own personal concoction. Once you’ve found your own remedy system, you’ll be traveling fearlessly.