I suffer from severe motion sickness. Car, bus, plane, boat – if I’m in a moving vehicle and not driving, I’ll soon have my head in a toilet. Not pleasant! Travelling, then, provides some big challenges. Over the years, I’ve learnt what works to prevent travel sickness from taking hold, and how to recover when it does so you can get on with enjoying your trip.
Choose your flights wisely
If you have to take multiple long-haul flights to get to your destination, include a stopover. Ideally 2-3 days, but at least one night so you can rest and recharge. For example, flying Between Australia and Europe usually necessitates a stop in either the USA or Asia. Taking two 12-hour flights in a row (plus possible additional domestic flights) can take a significant toll. Best to break the trip in half and rest so your body has a chance to recover.
Day flights are better for travel sickness than overnight ones. It’s much easier to stomach a long trip if you’re well rested to start with. Sleeping on planes is difficult, so if you’ve been up all day before jumping on a plane and don’t manage to sleep, it could be 48 hours before you get to your hotel bed – and if you arrive during the day you’ll be up even longer.
Take it easy on arrival
Splurge on private accommodation for the first couple days and make sure you can check in straight away, so that if you’re ill you can have a lie down without too much waiting. Sometimes all that’s needed after a long stressful flight is a bit of quiet and peace. If your flight arrives in the morning, it might be worth it to pay an early check-in fee. Once you’re on your feet and ready to meet fellow travellers, you can switch to a hostel.
Don’t plan any activities for the first couple days. Instead, take it easy and just wander the local area when you feel up to it. You might only be able to take a couple of hours at first and that’s ok – just head back to your room to recharge and head back out when you feel better.
Talk to your doctor about travel sickness pills, and possibly sleeping aids. Sleeping pills can be addictive, so take sparingly and only as prescribed by your doctor. Mine strongly suggested I didn’t take them on the plane as they can contribute to blood clotting, and will leave you feeling groggy if you wake up – they were to be used only upon arrival at my accommodation so I could get the rest I needed. You could also try over-the-counter sleeping aids, or herbal remedies such as valerian root. They’re a much milder option if all you need is to relax a little, rather than being completely knocked out.
The best way to get over travel sickness? Sleep. As much as you can get, but not in the middle of the day or it will take a long time to get over jet lag. An early night and a long sleep-in may be all it takes to get you ready to start your trip with full vigour.
Don’t do what I did
On my last trip, I let frugality get the better of me and broke all of my rules. I took a cheap overnight flight, booked a hostel and arrived very early in the morning with no early check-in available. I spent the next 3 days just trying to recover. It was a pretty terrible experience if I’m honest. It’s easy to discard all these tips when money is at stake, but if you spend those first few days feeling terrible and unable to enjoy your destination, then that’s three days wasted – an even bigger loss. If you suffer from severe travel sickness, heed my advice and take care of yourself. You’ll get much more enjoyment out of your trip.