The anticipation of the holiday is quickly spoiled when travel sickness occurs on the hour-long drive. How motion sickness develops and what helps against it.

A swaying ship, a swaying bus or a winding car journey makes the journey a real challenge for some people because the travel sickness sets in. Children are most often affected by nausea when travelling, but adults can also have a hard time traveling on vacation. Around five to ten percent of people are particularly sensitive to fluctuations while driving. Statistically, women are affected more often than men. How motion sickness occurs and how to get it under control.

Nausea is just one symptom of motion sickness, which medicine calls motion sickness. Other symptoms that can occur: headache, sweating, dizziness, paleness, rapid breathing and vomiting. These symptoms can be triggered by car rides, a turbulent flight, or a boat trip. Seasickness, a sub-form of motion sickness, causes problems for many travellers.

Contradictory stimuli in the brain trigger motion sickness

However, why people get sick so quickly when traveling does not depend on the stomach. When there’s a lot of rattling on the bus or corner after corner in the back seat of a car, it can throw off your sense of balance. The result: travel sickness. In order to maintain balance, the body draws on information from the sense of balance in the inner ear and what the eyes see. But if the eye and inner ear send contradicting information, then the tiresome companion goes with you. That means: If the eyes perceive that I am sitting still and reading a book on the back seat of the car while the vestibular system reports vibrations, the brain cannot put these two pieces of information together to form a suitable picture. Nausea or headaches when traveling are therefore not a classic illness. It is a reaction of the body to the many conflicting stimuli.

Anyone who notices the first signs of headaches or increased salivation while driving on vacation can take direct countermeasures: It is better to look out of the window at the street or fixate on a fixed point on the horizon. Reading a book or using your cell phone, on the other hand, can increase nausea and dizziness.

If you already know the annoying symptoms from your last vacation, you can take ginger as a preventive measure. Researchers at the University of Michigan have discovered that the tuber can relieve and prevent motion sickness. Two grams of fresh ginger should be consumed daily several days before departure. This also works in the form of a ginger tea. Fresh ginger should steep in a cup of hot water for six minutes. Travelers can take the ginger tea with them in a thermos flask and drink it when they get sick. Distracting yourself or opening the windows in the car can also help. Before the trip, it is best to eat light and wholesome food.

Choosing the right seat can play a role

If the travel sickness doesn’t go away, it can help to lie on your back on a quiet surface and close your eyes so that the vestibular system can calm down again. There are also medications that can help with motion sickness. Stiftung Warentest recommends these two active ingredients for prevention in adults and young people: diphenhydramine and scopolamine. These active ingredients can stop nausea and vomiting.

Choosing the right seat can also play a role in whether you feel nauseous. If you travel by bus, it is best to sit in the direction of travel and by the window. The pendulum movements are the least in the middle of the bus – that can help. In the car, the front passenger seat is preferable to the back seat. On the plane, a seat near the wings can help. If you hate long flights or car journeys, the best way to spend them is sleeping. Not only does time go by faster, travel sickness is also no problem. Visual stimuli are gone and the sense of balance is largely inactive.

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Sources: AOK, Netdoktor, Stiftung Warentest, University Michigan study