Motion sickness in general, and seasickness more specifically, are the bane of many intrepid explorers; both can strike even the most seasoned travelers! When you’re in the depths of it, seasickness can seem particularly interminable, and possibly ruin your whole trip. And though there are many seasickness remedies on the market, their effectiveness seems to vary from person to person.
Seasickness has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with being on the move. It occurs when your inner ear senses motion, but your eyes do not. Common symptoms include nausea, cold sweats, vomiting, dizziness, headache, and fatigue. If you’re a woman, a kid ages 5-12, or an older person, WebMD notes that you have a higher likelihood of getting motion sickness than others.
Questions about how to combat seasickness are among the most frequently asked by Zegrahm travelers. I believe that the more helpful tools and tricks we have in our travel kit, the better. To that end, we asked some travel experts about their misadventures in motion sickness, as well as the seasickness remedies they used to get through the ordeal. Read on to learn more about their advice…
“Working on a two-week cruise from Miami to Los Angeles via the Panama Canal, I decided to take a pre-emptive approach. Preferring to avoid medication whenever possible, I wore a wristband that stimulates acupressure points. To find the correct spot, you simply place three fingers on your wrist where the joint meets your hand. It’s roughly two inches above your wrist crease, on the palm side, right in the middle between the tendons. The bead fits there, and it worked like a charm for me. One evening I found a note on my door that said, ‘Rough seas ahead, so we highly recommend you take this medication (Meclazine).’ So I took it, deciding it was best not to question the wisdom of an experienced crew… or tempt fate.” –Penny Sadler, Adventures of A Carry-On
“My son and I were aboard a catamaran, whale-watching off Kaanapali Beach in West Maui, Hawaii. During our three-hour tour we enjoyed watching whales breaching in rolling waves. As we sailed back in, the surf became rough, causing the small boat to dramatically pitch and sway side-to-side. We became seasick, which is unusual for both of us. To calm our stomachs, we focused on the horizon and breathed deeply. A few other seasickness remedies I’ve used include getting a good night's rest before boarding and not drinking alcohol. If you’re going on a cruise, consider booking a mid-ship cabin near its center—the ship’s natural balance point—with a port hole near the waterline.” –Kit Bernardi, Kit Travels
Dramamine / Bonine
“I’m no stranger to motion sickness, but had gone snorkeling several times and never gotten seasick from it. So it didn't occur to me to bring seasickness remedies with me when I visited the Cancun Underwater Museum; bad move! The museum is further from the shore, so the water is choppier than expected. Within the first few minutes, I knew I was in trouble. My group went ahead, following the rope line, while I stayed back on our tiny boat with my eyes closed, praying for everyone to return. When we finally made it to shore a couple of hours later, I fell to the ground and laid there like a pathetic slug. I had to bow out of lunch while I recuperated in my air-conditioned hotel room, drinking plenty of water. After taking a Dramamine, I felt fine and ready to enjoy Cancun. Now I always carry seasickness remedies such as Dramamine or Bonine in my purse or daypack while traveling. You never know when you might need a dose!” –Colleen Lanin, Travel Mamas
Eat Well...But Not Too Much
“The worst time I ever got seasick was the night we crossed the Equator while circumnavigating Isabela Island in the Galápagos Islands. We were on the bottom level of a small, 20-guest ship, and every wave sent us lurching up before smacking down hard. I tried taking Dramamine and eating ginger, but nothing could stop the intense waves of nausea. What ultimately helped was someone telling us that it's worse when you don't eat, which seemed counterintuitive. So my wife sat beside me while I lay curled up on the bed and fed me the tiniest morals of bread, which I ate VERY slowly. The fuller my stomach got, the better I felt. I was still seasick, mind you, but it was a lot more bearable after I ate some food! That and sitting out on the ship’s deck to watch the horizon were the only things that helped.” –Bret Love, Green Global Travel
Get in the Water
“While on a dolphin and whale-watching excursion in Costa Rica, I came down with a SERIOUS case of seasickness. We had no medication on board the small boat, so the only way I could get relief was by jumping into the ocean from time to time. Not only did it give me an opportunity to clean myself up, but being in the waves rather than above them instantly calmed my stomach. I also caught the attention of a massive whale shark, who swam up to investigate what I was doing in the water in the middle of the ocean. So my seasickness led to one of the coolest travel experiences I’ve ever had!” –Kevin Wagar, Wandering Wagars
Ginger Ale or Candies
“When we boarded the ship for South Georgia, the wind was violent. The lecture on seasickness kicked off with ‘It's not if it hits you, it's when.’ All the port windows and outside decks were closed due to the storm… so much for keeping my eyes on the horizon! In the dark cabin, everything was tossed around violently. Lying in bed, I slid in one direction, then the other with the waves, watching the curtain swing straight out above me and back. I used the scopolamine patch, which made my throat dry and made it hard to read. I listened to audiobooks. Moving about the ship was dangerous, as at least one hand needed to be on the ship at all times. So I mostly stayed in my room, ate dry crackers, and consumed three varieties of ginger candies. Those two days crossing the Drake Passage seemed like an eternity.” –Heather Cunningham, Esmae’s Animal Filled World
“I get seasick from any kind of movement. It’s worse when I’m out on the water, but my husband loves sailing and our family boats on the lake all summer. Enter the scopolamine patch, which lasts for up to three days. I first used it while on Ed’s sailboat on Lake Michigan. I was worried, as other seasickness remedies typically don’t work for me when there are big waves. But with the patch, you put it behind your ear four hours before and wait for it to kick in. Pro Tip: Try it first when you’re not planning a big outing, as it can make some people drowsy. For me, it was the first time in my life I truly enjoyed sailing on Lake Michigan. The water was beautiful, I could swim (the patch stays on in water!), and I’ve used it countless times since while sailing.” –Jessie Voigts, Wandering Educators
Sleep It Off
“I traveled to Australia for an ethical shark dive, using music rather than food to attract these mighty predators. We took off from Port Lincoln early in the morning and headed towards the tiny Neptune Islands, about three hours away. Sea conditions are very often rough there, and that morning I had forgotten to do the only thing that usually helps—eating a healthy, hearty breakfast, such as muesli and fruit. Sure enough, a few minutes into the trip I experienced those familiar sea-sickness pangs, which stayed with me for most of the journey. I ended up sleeping most of the way, which allowed me to enjoy the wonderful shark encounter we had later that day.” –Margherita Ragg, The Crowded Planet
What are your favorite seasickness remedies? Please share your favorite tips with us on Zegrahm’s Facebook page.
Jessie Voigts has a PhD in International Education, has lived and worked in Japan and London, and traveled all around the world. She’s published six books about travel and intercultural learning, with more on the way. Jessie is constantly looking for ways to increase intercultural understanding, and is passionate sharing the world through her site, Wandering Educators.