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L.Srikumar Pai
B.Sc( Engg.), MIE, MIWWA, MICI
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Travel tips: Holiday woes?
Some tips to keep travel sickness at bay


Okay, you’ve booked your tickets to a swish resort in a hill station, and the cab’s honking at the gate. You run, all excited.

A couple of hours later, as you cross the plains and the cool mist-laden breeze of the hills hits you, a dull headache threatens to play spoilsport.

Your stomach feels like it’s on a roller coaster, your mouth waters and you desperately feel like you are going to be sick. Images of a wonderful holiday vanish, and you want to do all you can to keep the next bout of nausea at bay.

That is a familiar situation for most travellers, especially those who are prone to motion sickness.

And, you never know what triggers it. Anxiety plays a role, but so does movement of any kind. First-timers on ships usually have a very bad time adjusting to the swaying movement on board; so do many on a maiden flight.

An experienced hand in cruise liners mercifully escaped without even a single bout of sea sickness during his career. But, he swears by three things that have worked magic on passengers — sea sickness pills, green apples and sea sickness bands worn on the wrist.

Technically, motion sickness occurs because the brain is not great at handling conflicting messages, such as the sensations thrown up by varying movements. The eye, nerves and muscles in the leg and the balancing system in the ear have to work together to help us know whether we are moving or stationary.

But, everything turns topsy-turvy on a ship. You see a straight wall and know the ground is hard beneath your feet, but sense movement underneath. This conflict does not do anything good for your sense of balance. See if you can swing a seat in the middle of the ship on a lower deck — the ship moves least there. Some frequent travellers recommend fresh air.

Traumatic time

Take-off and touch-down on an aircraft can be traumatic for those with motion sickness. What helps in such cases is keeping anxiety at bay and focussing on something other than the movement that troubles you. For instance, read a book, keeping it at eye-level, or concentrate on fixed object. Drinking water helps.

Converse with your co-passengers. It helps take your mind off the issue bothering you. Request for a seat over the wing; the stability factor is at work here too.

With children, the problems are more, as they are terrified by the fear of an unknown sensation. Take enough toys along to keep them occupied. Give them a candy to suck on.

The good part is that many tend to grow out of it once they turn older. If you are travelling by car, give your kids a seat from where they can see the road. It helps maintain a sense of balance. And, if possible, avoid games or activities where they have to look into their lap. Singing helps. So does good ventilation.

Some smells trigger sickness too. Try and identify them and avoid exposure to such smells. Handle the bends in the road gently. Take frequent breaks to break monotony.

A grandmothers’ recipe is to eat a small piece of fresh ginger with its skin before you travel. If that sounds terrible, go in for a soft drink with that flavour, or a lime tea with ginger. Other tips include massaging your ear lobes in small circular motions, using your thumb and forefinger. Things to avoid before travelling include heavy meals and alcohol.

Travel Tips: Main page

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