disability, lifestyle, personal, Travel, Uncategorized

Overcome: How To Be Your Best Traveller (in the face of motion sickness)

It’s no secret that I love to travel. Anytime, any place, anywhere… so long as it’s accessible enough. Advanced planning (even in spontaneous situations) aids me with the travelling a lot but there’s still one thing that I know will get me every time… Travel sickness.

Travel sickness, in fact, has always been in my life… Long before chronic illnesses took over my every atom, I’ve suffered with travel sickness, and chronic illness has undoubtedly made that worse.

TW: Emeto. There is no graphic content but sickness is mentioned

From a travel sickness point of view, I’m actually a lot better than I used to be.. I used to be totally unable to get into a vehicle without being unwell, but now it’s to quite as frequent… but can lead to much worse things, unfortunately. I’m not here to talk about chronic illness today, though; it’s all about my love for travel and my body’s total lack of love for such motions.

Travel really does ignite something in me, and even if I’m not well (let’s just say I’m the worlds best hospital tourist…) it’s refreshing to be in a new place, and to go as far and wide as I can, whilst I can. I love my love for travel and am notorious on social media for always being… somewhere that’s not ‘home’. It’s fair assumption, I’d say. I’ve just arrived back to London from Scotland late Tuesday and on Monday I’ll be Devon-bound.

In 2018 alone, I’ve ridden a boat, planes, funiculars, trains, tubes, buses, coaches for long times, trams and if it counts as a vehicle, ascended a 210m skyscraper in a lift that climbs 56 floors in just 38 seconds.

It’s kind of a given that if you want to travel you need to, physically, be in motion. I love the concept of trains, planes and beyond, just not the hell it puts you through.

Here are some statistics on motion sickness:

  • Around 80% of the population suffer from travel sickness, making it a common problem
  • People who have diagnosed migraines or Menieres Disease are more likely to suffer from severe travel sickness.
  • Travel sickness occurs as a result of the sensory organs being confused; Though the mouth, nose, and ears sense motion, the eyes are faced with stationary images meaning it cannot actively process if you are moving or not correctly.
  • The above explains why many motion sickness sufferers are okay when they are driving.

As horrible as it all is, this makes total sense. The brain is trying its best to react in a rational way, best for you, but is receiving very conflicting signals. I don’t blame the organs for being confused; I would be too.

How do I know if I suffer from motion sickness?

You see, usually you would know if you suffer from travel/motion sickness, but some people who don’t suffer from persistent symptoms may not class themselves as suffering from such, or truly understand or recognise the occasional symptoms to be travel sickness. The three most common symptoms are:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

On Planes or trains, altitude can also mimick flu-like symptoms

Ways To Conquer Travel Sickness

Having suffered with travel sickness for as long as I can remember (and worsening when I’m having a migraine flare up- I’ve suffered with chronic migraines since the age of eight), I still have not perfected how to make it all stop. I don’t think there is a solution, as such, but I’ve recently been re-adjusting to suffering badly from motion sickness and have found some things that really work for me and hopefully will for you, too.

  1. Centre the pressure points. Placebo or scientifically proven to decrease the negative impact of motion sickness, anything that is focused around pressure points is your first step to reducing motion sickness. Travel sickness bands really do work. At £9 a time, it may seem you’re forking out but if you’re travelling about in this big world of ours a lot, they are a great long term investment.
    But how do they work?
    The band is designed with a little bump on each band which will provide gentle pressure where it is placed. The pressure should be applied at the nei-kuan point (also known as P6 or PC6), and works not dissimilarly to acupuncture.
    Scientifically, this will work for some people, but not necessarily everyone, though regardless as I mentioned before they are a fab placebo effect. I have had to start carrying these in my daily essentials pack (including my medication and other bits and bobs) since I’ve begun to suffer from motion sickness on journeys I’d never expect to, especially shorter journeys. They seemingly have helped me.
    Another top tip relative to pressure points is using something along the lines of a temple balm for soothing. I personally love both ‘Whoosh’ and ‘Dreamtime’ temple balms from Lush (all rights featured image of the linked belong to @thenzlushie, Instagram, as tagged). Dreamtime is a lavender based balm with a little ginger kick where as whoosh is a zingy grapefruit balm. Both, I’d say are equally as wonderful, and I most certainly carry both around with me since I decide what to use dependent on how I’m feeling. Putting something inducing calm on your temples, wrists etc is known to have soothing qualities that aid things such as motion sickness.
  2. This is so important, so let me spell it: H to the Y to the DRA to the T to the E… hydrate!! It is so vital that you stay hydrated every single day, but if you’re prone to sickness a lack of fluids in your body will certainly not put your body on your side. I’ve found myself glugging heavy quantities of water after understanding I have felt unwell, and in most cases the fluids will leave my body almost as soon as they enter. My advice is to take small sips of water, frequently. This also applies to when you’re feeling unwell regardless of how many fluids you’ve consumed throughout the day. I promise, you will feel a lot better taking small sips of water. On the note of fluids, it’s also best to stick to water or a water based, vitamin high drink (like vitamin water or vit-hit) rather than overloading on anything high in sugar, caffeine, or alcohol. Water is the best fluid you can put into your body at any given moment, so having a caffeine high and dehydrating substance such as coffee (something we’re all tempted to fall to… coffee is such a comfort to me) is not a good idea.
  3. Comfort is KEY. If you’re not comfortable, you’re opening a door to more and more problems, so you need to ensure you consider and plan ahead before travelling. If you’re on a hiking trip, you wouldn’t pack your heels, so logically you’d choose comfort for travel days, too?
    One thing to remember about bridging the gap between comfort and for the occasion is that comfort isn’t just about what you’re wearing. If I turned up to a plane journey in a dress, I’d probably be a little irritable but I can’t say it’ll cause me ill-health any more than a pair of harems (unless hypersensitivity gets in my way, but that’s a whole other issue). Comfort encompasses your general demeanour; HOW you sit; HOW you rest your head; WHAT else you do. I personally find it best to close my eyes and put my head down. Although my achey body isn’t a fan of the comfort of leaning forwards, laying my head forwards against something makes me feel much better than laying back. I also find it handy to have something soft to put my head on, even if it’s just my jumper as a make-shift cushion. I am inclined to suggest that if your severe motion sickness is caused, or worsened, by chronic migraines, that closing your eyes will be more beneficial for you than someone with generic motion sickness symptoms, but since I’ve always suffered from those hellish things, I don’t feel I can personally add effective commentary.
    Another thing I do to increase the level of comfort is listening to music. If I feel a migraine coming on, symptoms of a migraine or I feel likely to develop one, this part doesn’t work and I wouldn’t say is particularly sensible, either, but in all other cases it’s worth a try. I always go for a song I know well, with a lot of words; Recently, my go to is ‘I ADORE U’ by Adore Delano. I feel this is beneficial to me due to the changing beats and style. I am able to focus on the words and beats easily, with this being best represented in the pre-chorus to chorus constrast between the rap-style music as a lead up to Adore’s beautiful chorus (and verse) singing voice. Truly, I believe it is the focus on the words and beats that guides me from motion sickness to tolerance, but music is also a huge comfort blanket for most people (hence choosing Adore Delano, since she is the love of my life).

CW: This song includes some explicit language:

I also want to heavily recommend against doing things like reading or chewing gum.

So, there it is.

It’s weird how travel sickness can throw you off. Days after I came home from Budapest I felt very unwell, and despite a 15 hour coach journey last Thursday, it was the hour bus trip to Largs on Monday that I became unwell on… but these few things really did help whilst I was made to feel totally miserable from travelling after a great day.

I hate trips like these totally ruining the best of days, but I’m so glad I’ve found something that works for me, and hopefully will for you.

Love always,

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