Dealing With Motion Sickness

About one in three people are highly likely to experience motion sickness at least once in their lifetime. And while some people are more prone to it than others, this dizzying, nauseating ailment can strike anyone at anytime or place — including on your upcoming charter bus trip.

What Causes Motion Sickness?

There isn’t a definitive cause linked to motion sickness, but research has shown several possibilities. The leading theory is that as our brain absorbs stimuli from around us — sights, sounds, smells and physical sensations — it gets confused if those signals don’t match the reality in front of us. It would explain why motion sickness is worse after reading in a moving vehicle — staring at a stationary page while your inner ear detects movement sends your brain conflicting messages.

Anyone can experience motion sickness, but you might be more susceptible if you are a woman, prone to migraine headaches, have an inner ear disorder or take certain medications. Though this condition can start suddenly and without warning, those who have had symptoms before are more likely to again. The more motion sick you become, the more symptoms you can experience, such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Paleness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased saliva
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Cold sweat
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Restlessness

Though motion sickness rarely causes significant problems, it can lead to vomiting, dehydration or low blood pressure in some cases. It also leaves you miserable during an otherwise exciting bus trip with friends and family.

Can You Train Yourself Not to Get Motion Sick?

If you’ve had one too many road trips ruined by motion sickness, you might be in luck — research suggests there may be a few ways to “train” yourself not to experience motion sickness.

  • Controlled breathing: Some studies show that controlled diaphragmatic breathing can help maximize your parasympathetic nervous system’s ability to decrease motion sickness symptoms. Practice DB before your trip and use those strategies if you start to feel sick on the bus.
  • Visuospatial exercises: A recent study supports the idea that improving your visuospatial skills through “pen-and-paper training” can help reduce motion sickness. The study’s tasks included folding paper, identifying images in drawings and processing rotations and comparisons between 3D objects. Participants reduced their motion sickness by half in simulated trials and by nearly 60% in a real road setting.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback helps you learn more about your body’s natural responses and reflexes, including how to alter or control some of them. Pairing biofeedback with breathing exercises may help you learn how to suppress some feelings of nausea caused by motion sickness.

How to Deal With Motion Sickness on Long Trips

Though motion sickness symptoms usually go away within 72 hours after leaving the moving vehicle, that doesn’t help if you’re on a charter bus trip spanning hours or days. Fortunately, you can take a few steps before and during your ride to avoid or minimize symptoms.

Before the Trip

Research shows motion sickness can be partly psychological for some people, especially if you’ve experienced it before and have come to expect or dread similar symptoms every time you prepare for a big trip. Start giving yourself optimistic pep talks a few days before it’s time to go, and remind yourself that you can handle the sensations. It may not entirely prevent motion sickness, but focusing on the more exciting parts of travel might better prepare you.

Make things as easy on yourself as possible by wearing a comfortable outfit for the ride, like lounge clothes and light layers. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before you leave, and avoid heavy meals, alcohol, caffeine and greasy or high-histamine foods like hard cheeses and processed meats during the days leading up to departure.

Create a motion sickness kit to take aboard the bus with you. Consider packing:

  • Sunglasses to block visual stimuli that may worsen nausea and headache
  • Bottled water to stay hydrated
  • Plastic bags and wet wipes in case of sudden sickness
  • Stomach-soothing snacks like crackers, bananas, bread and grains
  • A thermos of chamomile tea or a can of carbonated soda, like ginger ale, to help settle your stomach

On the Road

Too much movement worsens motion sickness, so pick a bus seat between the front and back wheels for maximum smoothness when rounding corners or taking turns. Avoid the back of the bus — you’ll feel more movement there than in the middle and front. Look for a window seat to help alleviate any temperature fluctuations and give you a distraction outside the moving vehicle.

Other on-the-road tips include the following.

  • Communicate with others: Let your driver and those sitting next to you know that you’re prone to motion sickness so they can help when possible. For example, your driver could choose a straighter route to avoid excessive hills and turns, and your seat partner may sit near the aisle to give you the space by the window.
  • Get fresh air: Stale air holds odor, worsening nausea symptoms. If opening a window isn’t an option, direct the nearest air vent toward your face when you start to feel sick. Take advantage of all pit stops along your ride by exiting the bus, walking around in the fresh air and refreshing with a splash of water or facial spray.
  • Avoid strong smells: Avoid exposure to smells like cigarette smoke, fast food and passengers wearing strong perfume or cologne.
  • Settle your stomach: Regularly eat small snacks, like salted crackers and carbonated soda, as tolerable throughout the trip to help settle your stomach. Stay hydrated, so you don’t have dehydration symptoms on top of motion sickness.

Once you’re on board, sit and face forward. Don’t try to focus on anything inside the moving vehicle — instead, look out at the distance in the front window to keep your visual and spatial signals aligned in your brain.

How to Make Motion Sickness Go Away

Medication and holistic approaches are a few motion sickness treatments to consider, and when all else fails, time and distraction can help you get through the worst of the symptoms.

1. Medication

Scopolamine is the most commonly prescribed motion sickness medication, and it’s available in pill or patch form. The patch is popular with travelers because it’s easy to use and its anti-nausea and vomiting effects can last up to three days. Stick it behind your ear four to eight hours before departure and apply a new one if your trip lasts several days.

Antihistamines like Benadryl and Phenergan can also help ease or prevent some motion sickness symptoms like nausea. Be sure to skip the non-drowsy option — motion sickness symptoms only respond to the standard formula. Check your medication bottle for instructions before boarding the bus, as some are best to take several hours before you hit the road. 

2. Holistic Approaches

How to help with motion sickness depends on your symptoms and their severity. Some find a few holistic choices can help alleviate symptoms alone or combined with medication.

  • Breathing exercises: If your symptoms are bad enough that you may vomit, practicing some controlled DB exercises may help lessen the severity of those urges.
  • Aromatherapy: Some scents, like light mint notes, ginger or lavender, may have a relaxing effect to help you better manage symptoms.
  • Stomach-settling candies: Peppermints and ginger-flavored candies may help an upset stomach.
  • Acupressure: Some evidence suggests stimulating your P6 point with firm pressure can help treat motion sickness. You can find your P6 point by putting your index, middle and ring fingers from your right hand on the inside of your left wrist, under the crease. The P6 point is directly under your index finger between your wrist tendons. Some travelers have had success with acupressure bracelets that offer a more constant nerve stimulation.

3. Time and Distraction

Some researchers believe listening to pleasant or soothing music can help reduce motion sickness symptoms. Having something non-visual to focus on can distract you from how you feel physically. Catching some shut-eye in a reclined position is the best possible distraction. Closing your eyes and dozing off also limits how many sights and sounds you take in. Remind yourself motion sickness is temporary, and your symptoms will start to alleviate once you arrive at your destination.

Choose a Comfortable Ride With Arrow Stage Lines

While some parts of motion sickness may be unavoidable, you can do plenty of things to prevent or alleviate symptoms for a more enjoyable journey. The first step is choosing to travel on a comfortably furnished charter bus with safe, experienced drivers. At Arrow Stage Lines, our drivers have a 98% satisfaction rating, and we thoroughly clean and inspect each fleet vehicle.

Learn more about chartering a bus with Arrow Stage Lines!

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