Travelling with kids can be stressful, even on a short 4-hour plane hop from the UK to Turkey. But taking flights, buses or long car journeys with a kid that suffers travel sickness can take stressful to a whole new level – unless you’re prepared.
As a child, I suffered car sickness. I remember long journeys were fairly miserable and spent hanging my head out of windows or trying to lie down on the back seat of the car to feel better. Luckily the feelings passed as I grew and became an adult. I am, however, grateful looking back that my parents did take me places. I know how much I loved it when I got to the destination and I would have certainly missed out on many life experiences if my folks had chosen to simply avoid travelling and keep me at home.
A good friend came to see me recently with her six-year-old daughter. I first met Kate many years ago, pre-kids, when I first came to Turkey. Kate is a self-confessed ‘travelholic’ and has continued to travel extensively, child in tow, even though her daughter suffers motion sickness. Knowing this is a common problem, I decided to ask her to share a few tips on how to help children overcome travel sickness.
6 Tips to help your child overcome travel sickness
1.Avoid screens, digital games and books – they can make matters worse.
Chances are, tucked somewhere in your hand-luggage essentials, will be an iPad, kiddy tablet or some kind of digital game or book to keep the kids occupied during a flight or long journey. But, although Blaze on repeat or the millionth viewing of Frozen is a fabulous peace keeper normally, it’s not great for anyone suffering motion sickness – it can make them feel a whole lot worse. Fast moving images and the need to focus on words or pictures whilst moving can confuse the brain and cause sensory disagreement. Whilst eyes are fixed on a word or image, ears and body are sensing motion leading to feeling sick or dizzy. It’s a far better bet to listen to music, an audio-book or to talk to one another rather than try and focus on anything specific.
2.Positioning: How they sit and stand matters
If you are on a boat, moving of the head back and forth with the motion, or looking down or around can make the feelings of nausea worse. Get your child to sit down, put their head back against something stationary or hold it straight and look straight ahead at the horizon. The same applies in cars, put the child seat in the centre on the back seat, get them to rest their head against the side and stare through the gap and ahead, a focus and knowing whats coming helps to ease sickness. (According to Google, focus on anticipating what’s ahead is why drivers rarely suffer motion sickness).
3.Time the trip
“Booking night flights and travelling during nap-times helps a lot” say’s Kate. “They are less likely to feel sick when they are asleep”. Travelling at night limits the amount of visual stimulation so they are far less likely to suffer as much.
4. Listen to what your child is telling you.
If your kid is saying that they are starting to feel sick, get them to focus out of the window and try some slow, deep breaths. If you are in the car and have the heating on, turn it down and try cool air instead or open a window. If you’re on a plane, aim the air-conditioning vent at them and try focused deep breaths – this can calm a belly and help the feelings of nausea pass.
5. Do feed children sensibly before travelling.
You may be temped not to feed your child if your are heading on a journey and know they suffer travel sickness. But according to experts, this isn’t really the best option as their belly will want food therefore making them grouchy and even more likely to feel sick. Offer them easy to digest foods like a simple chicken sandwich or a few crackers with a glass of water or blackcurrant squash, avoid anything fried or greasy. A ginger biscuit or ginger tea may also help as the spice is said to help settle stomachs and feelings of nausea.
If your child suffers motion sickness badly, do head along to the doctor or pharmacist and have a word with them. There are anti-sickness medications on the market suitable for kids. There are also a lot of alternative remedies including acupressure wristbands that are said to work for some.
“Don’t be put off travelling if you suffer from motion sickness, there are things you can do, failing that, medications you can take to help overcome travel sickness. As I tell Isla, it’s all worth it when you get there in the end”, says Kate.
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