Your doctor may prescribe you medicines that help prevent travel sickness. You may also be able to buy non-prescription medicines from a pharmacy (chemist or drugstore).
Some examples of medicines that are used to treat travel sickness are listed below. Ideally you should take these before you travel. Always read the patient information that comes with your medicine and if you have any questions, ask a pharmacist or doctor for advice.
Hyoscine hydrobromide is one of the best medicines for preventing travel sickness. It works by blocking the confusing nerve signals from your vestibular system. You need to take tablets containing hyoscine about 30 minutes before you travel and their effect lasts for about six hours.
You may also be able to use a skin patch containing hyoscine. You stick the patch onto your skin behind your ear five or six hours before travelling. It can prevent travel sickness for up to three days. The patches are only suitable for adults and children over 10. Hyoscine may cause side-effects such as drowsiness, blurry vision and dizziness.
Antihistamines (eg cinnarizine and cyclizine) can help reduce travel sickness. You need to take antihistamines about two hours before you travel. Rarely, these can cause drowsiness.
Availability and use of different treatments may vary from country to country. Ask your doctor for advice on your treatment options.
Some people find that wearing bands that apply pressure onto your wrist - at an acupuncture point called P6 - can help with travel sickness. There is some evidence that acupressure may help pregnant women with morning sickness, but there hasn't been much research about its effect on travel sickness.
Ginger is a traditional remedy for travel sickness. There is some evidence that ginger may be effective for pregnant women with morning sickness and it may also help patients feel less sick following surgery. But there have been few studies on its effect on travel sickness. You can take ginger in many ways, such as in tea or as capsules containing ginger powder.
Preventing travel sickness
As well as the methods listed above, there are several things you can do to help prevent travel sickness when you're travelling.
- Your position can affect your chances of getting travel sickness - wherever possible, drive a car instead of being a passenger, sit in the front seat of a car or bus, sit over the wing in an aircraft, or sit in the centre of a ship or on the upper deck.
- Keep your eyes fixed on the horizon.
- Keep your head still.
- Don't read - try listening to story tapes instead.
- Open a window to let fresh air in.
- Don't smoke before or while travelling.
- Don't drink alcohol before or while travelling.
- Try to distract yourself - play travel games or listen to music.
Some people find that lying down helps but this isn't always possible if you are travelling by car or plane. Others find that the best way to deal with travel sickness is to close their eyes and go to sleep.