Motion and Travel Sickness

motion and travel sickness motion and travel sickness

Motion sickness is feeling unwell when you travel. Whether by car, boat, train or plane, travel sickness often happens when you are a passenger in a moving vehicle. You could also experience motion sickness on theme park rides, looking out of the window on a moving train or whilst reading in a car.

How is motion sickness caused?

Motion sickness is caused by mixed signals to the brain, where your inner ear sends different messages to what your eyes can actually see. As a result, you can feel sick when you experience motion that is felt but not seen, or seen but not felt.

So when you’re on a bumpy road or experiencing flight turbulence, it can make you feel ill. You can also feel travel sick when you look out of the window because your eyes see motion even though you are sitting still.

What are the symptoms of motion sickness?

There are a few common signs of motion sickness, though it can affect everyone differently:

  • Feeling nauseous without being sick
  • Cold sweats
  • Pale skin
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting

Types of travel sickness

Car sickness

Car sickness is one of the most common travel sickness types, often found when trying to read, text or watch a film as a passenger. It can make you feel unwell when your body feels motion during travel but your eyes do not correspond. Therefore the sensory conflict of concentrating whilst sitting still in a moving car can make you feel unwell. Moving objects such as passing cars or rolling hills can also cause travel sickness.

Flight sickness

Air travel is also common amongst travellers. Similar to car sickness, some people may feel unwell on a turbulent flight. Likewise, sitting still whilst on a moving plane can create the same motion sickness effect.

Train sickness

In the same way, bumpy train journeys can also make passengers feel unwell. You may also feel sick when looking out of the window at the moving landscape or whilst concentrating on a book.

How to ease travel sickness symptoms

There are a few ways to minimise the symptoms of travel sickness, such as:

  • Anti-sickness tablets
  • Motion sickness bands
  • Ginger tea or tablets, which are said to settle the stomach
  • Opening a window for fresh air
  • Closing your eyes and taking deep breaths
  • Talking to others or listening to music
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Avoid reading, watching films or using electronic devices
  • Trying not to look out at moving vehicles or objects
  • Breaking up long journeys for fresh air or a walk
  • Avoiding alcohol or heavy meals before travelling
  • Keeping motion to a minimum by siting at the front of a car
  • Avoiding theme park rides if they make you feel unwell


Many people feel unwell when they try to read, text, use an electronic tablet or watch a film as a passenger in a car. It can help to ease the symptoms of car sickness by talking to other passengers or listening to music with your eyes closed. As well as trying motion sickness tablets or bands, it can also help ease nausea by opening a car window or breaking up long journeys with fresh air.

Try to minimise movement by sitting at the front of the car or avoiding looking out at passing vehicles. If you can drive, being the driver of the car is also said to help ease sickness. This is because your brain is less likely to receive mixed messages as it anticipates the movement of the road.

It is said that root ginger, ginger tea and peppermint tea can be effective in settling the stomach when you feel sick. It is also advisable to avoid heavy, spicy or rich meals and drinking alcohol before you travel. Instead, stock up on plain snacks such as crackers, along with plenty of drinking water.

If you already know you experience travel sickness and are only feeling sick when you travel, it is unlikely that you are feeling a new pregnancy symptom. However, if you are already feeling morning sickness or know you are pregnant, travel may heighten any nauseas feelings.

With similar symptoms, the two are very difficult to tell apart; if you think you may be pregnant it is advisable to take a test or see a healthcare professional.