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How to avoid sea sickness this summer

Taking to the high seas? Sea sickness advice from the travel insurance specialists

Taking to the high seas? Sea sickness advice from the travel insurance specialists

Sea sickness. Mal de mer. It’s the bane of the seven seas. If you sometimes struggle to find your sea legs, you are not alone. Many thousands of us will take to the water this summer, on cruises, cross channel ferries, inter islands ferries and pleasure jaunts and fishing trips. And many of us will feel the rolling and the bobbing more than others. But don't worry. There are things you can do to give the wonky tummy a wide berth.

What causes sea sickness?

In a nutshell? Information your brain receives from your eyes conflicting with your perception of balance.

Your eyes send visual information to your brain to help you see where you are in the world. Your inner ears send positioning signals to your brain to help you balance. When you are bobbing up and down in the waves, your brain gets confused about whether you are moving or standing still. This disconnect between eyes, ears and brain results in conflicting inputs, which confuses the brain and causes you to feel particularly out of whack.

Who gets sea sickness?

The bad news is that sea sickness is pretty non-discriminatory. Anyone can fall foul to the motion of the ocean, although people do vary in their sensitivity to it. The NHS suggests children aged between three- and twelve-years old are particularly prone, along with pregnant women and people who are susceptible to migraines.

How to beat sea sickness: prevention

You know what they say. Prevention is better than cure. Here are some tips to prepare for your ocean voyage.

Stay in the lower levels, in the middle of the ship.

The middle is the balancing point of any ship. That means there’ll be less motion. By extension, you should be avoiding the bow and stern of your boat as this is where you’ll get the greatest up-and-down motion.

Eat (and drink) smart.

Avoid excessive alcohol as well as foods that make you feel unusually full.

Avoid reading.

Your eyes think the book is stationary. Your ears know that its moving with the boat. This heightens the disconnect between your senses and can intensify - or bring on - sea sickness.

Wear an anti-nausea wristband.

Sea-bands offer drug-free relief from sea sickness. They work by applying pressure on the Nei Kuan acupressure point on your wrists via a plastic stud. It might sound a bit out there, but they have been proven to work. And you can pick one up for around a fiver.

How to beat sea sickness: cure

Okay, prevention didn’t work? There are some simple measures you can take to ease your symptoms. And remember, your symptoms will gradually improve as your body adapts to the new environment that it’s finding so peculiar. Hang in there.

Get some fresh air.

The breeze out on deck will help you feel less stuffy and more refreshed.

Keep your gaze fixed on the horizon.

As you know by now, sea sickness is about your brain getting confused by what’s moving and what’s not. The horizon is still. Fixing your gaze at it helps bring a little equilibrium and normality back to your senses.

Keep still.

See above...

Eat ginger. And apples.

Ginger is a time-honoured remedy for upset tummies. And while there is no medical evidence supporting its use, many people swear by it. Ginger tea, ginger biscuits, anything goes. Apples are supposed to be good too.

Listen to music.

It gives your brain something else to focus on. A welcome distraction.

Count backwards from 100.

Again, it diverts your brain.

Immerse your feet in ice water.

Yes, it sounds odd. But then again if nothing else has worked you’re probably ready to try anything by this point. In they pop.

All in the mind?

Now, when you are struggling with sea sickness, the last thing you want is for someone to come along and tell you that it’s all in the mind. But some studies have suggested that in fact it may be. Either way, there is little doubt that worrying about sea sickness becomes self-fulfilling. So relax. Stay calm. And focus on the great holiday you are about to have. All aboard!

Taking to the open ocean? Don’t leave the port without our specialist cruise travel insurance.

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3 Responses to How to avoid sea sickness this summer

  1. Lochana says:


    What about lemons or limes? Won’t those help?


  2. June Russell says:


    I don’t know of any fruit that will definitely help, but my husband always uses Nelsons Travella pills – available from most Chemists and he hasn’t been travel sick when using them on Channel crossings. These are easy to take as they can be chewed – no water needed.


  3. wftristan says:


    I’d never heard of using lemons but apparently they will help

    I’m lucky as i am Cornish and Cornishmen dont suffer from sea sickness 🙂

    I always told that a bacon sandwich was one of the best cures but i would imagine if you are feeling ill thats the last thing you would want to eat

    Tristan


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