Travel sickness can take all the pleasure out of a car, plane or boat trip, especially for children, but with the right care it needn’t stop you in your tracks.
Feelings of nausea, dizziness or fatigue – the most common symptoms – are a normal reaction to certain types of motion, whether in a car, a train, when flying or at sea. Our inner ear signals we are moving but our eyes can tell us otherwise. The physical result of these mixed messages is feeling nauseous and generally miserable. Children aged two to 12 are the most susceptible.
For some children motion sickness may be inevitable on, say, a long car trip. If your child has been car sick before, tell them to let you know as soon as they feel symptoms, and have any appropriate medication on hand.
You might also need a plastic bucket with a lid, a change of clothes, wet wipes, towels and water.
Before you set out and while travelling, avoid heavy, greasy or spicy meals. On long trips, make sure your child eats little and often – dry biscuits are a safe option. On shorter trips, it can be best to avoid food altogether.
If you’re flying, book a seat where you will experience the least motion, preferably over the wings.
If your child is feeling sick, encourage them to close their eyes or find a spot in the distance to focus on. This eliminates sensory confusion and reduces the effects of motion sickness. Lying down with eyes closed is better. A damp cloth on the forehead or back of the neck may also help. If possible, open a window to get plenty of fresh air.
Discourage children from reading or using digital devices. Watching a movie or listening to music is a safer option. You can read to younger children to take their mind off a queasy tummy.
The symptoms of motion sickness can be treated with natural or medicinal remedies.
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that ginger is an effective treatment. It seems to work by slowing the movements of the stomach.
Scents such as mint or lavender may be effective as anti-nausea agents.
Ships’ doctors recommend snacking on green apples to relieve the symptoms of seasickness.
There are several over-the-counter medications approved to prevent and treat motion sickness in children. These are designed to either calm the nerves of the inner ear or soothe the brain’s vomiting centre. Take medical advice and read the product information carefully to prepare the correct dose, depending on your child’s age. Timing varies, but these medications are most effective if taken at least 30 minutes before travelling and before your child begins to feel sick.