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Don't let seasickness spoil your cruise

A view of Greece with coloured houses along a harbour that you might see on a Mediterranean cruise.
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Our tips for avoiding motion sickness and nausea while travelling

Even seasoned travellers can experience nausea and discomfort as a result of sea sickness or motion sickness. Sea sickness is an unpleasant experience, especially when it occurs on a trip that you were looking forward to.

It may be difficult to avoid seasickness entirely on a cruise or boat trip; however, most people experience seasickness as their bodies adjust to the motion, usually within the first 24 to 48 hours.

What exactly causes motion sickness and seasickness?

When there is a conflict between what your eye sees and what your inner ear senses about your balance, motion sickness occurs. When you sit in a boat, your inner ear perceives you to be moving and rocking with the swell, but your eye perceives the cabin to be still because it is moving with you. As a result, your brain releases stress hormones, causing nausea and vertigo.

Strong odours, such as engine fuel or cooking, can aggravate this nausea, which is why fresh air is beneficial when suffering from motion sickness.

How to avoid motion sickness on a cruise

Spending time on deck in the fresh air and staying hydrated can help you feel more at ease as you adjust to the motion of the cruise liner. A small amount of bland food can help you feel better. Keeping busy can help because it takes your mind off the unpleasant symptoms of seasickness. Some people find that carrying a sick bag relieves their anxiety about vomiting. The crew will be experienced in assisting passengers who are seasick, so seek advice if you are feeling ill – even the folks at the US National Ocean Service get seasick sometimes.

We have some general tips for staying healthy on a cruise; keep in mind that it's especially important to get travel health advice before a cruise vacation, so schedule a travel health appointment six to eight weeks before you board your ship.

How can I avoid motion sickness in a car?

If you get motion sickness easily, ride in the front. Looking out to the horizon can reduce nausea symptoms. And an open window will improve ventilation which may relieve your motion sickness symptoms.

It's a good idea to distract yourself, whether through breathing exercises, music, or chatting. However, do not look at a screen while travelling or attempt to read.

Are there motion sickness medications I can take during my vacation?

A pharmacist can recommend seasickness and motion sickness relief tablets, pills, and patches. Rather than waiting until you feel sick, take motion sickness medications a few hours before you travel, and in some cases the night before.

Some people find that ginger relieves nausea, and it is available as capsules, as well as ginger biscuits and ginger infusions.

Where can I get motion sickness advice?

You can ask questions about motion sickness and sea sickness during your travel health appointment, which should be scheduled six to eight weeks before your trip. The travel health nurse or pharmacist can recommend simple steps to alleviate motion sickness discomfort, and they may be able to prescribe or provide sea sickness medication. They can also recommend vaccines to protect you against traveller's illnesses such as hepatitis A and meningitis.