Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris
Coping with Seasickness
Seasickness can put a damper on any occasion but don’t let a fear of seasickness scare you away from your dream vacation destination! We are providing this information as a resource so that you can consider your choices, take preventative action beforehand, and hopefully, keep seasickness away.
Seasickness, a form of motion sickness*, occurs when your brain receives conflicting messages about your body’s motion or position. So, if you are in a room with no windows on a ship and the ship is moving, your body feels the motion, but your eyes cannot see the motion, thus your body is sending conflicting information to your brain. The brain gets confused, and motion sickness can occur.
The waters close to land, among sea ice, and with shallower depths are generally calm, so in those cases, unless you are very sensitive, seasickness should not be too much of an issue. Rougher waters occur while navigating the open windswept ocean, but most of our larger ships have an excellent stabilizing system to reduce motion in these areas. Still, seasickness is unwelcomed on anyone’s travel itinerary, and the key to seasickness is to take preventative action before any symptoms arise.
*It is important to note that while less of an issue, motion sickness can also arise on small aircraft, on small boat trips, and while driving on bumpy or winding roads.
Everyone’s sensitivity varies, so know yourself, and come prepared for any potential for seasickness or motion sickness.
What over-the-counter drugs are available for seasickness?
Dimenhydrinate and Meclizine are antihistamines that work well for some if taken as a preventative, well before symptoms occur. Antihistamines cause drowsiness, which can be good if you are sick since resting can be the best remedy. Dimenhydrinate and meclizine are chemically different, and one might work better for you than the other.
What prescription drugs are available for seasickness?
It is best to discuss with your doctor the best prescription and treatment options before your trip. There are multiple options available. For our 100-passenger Antarctica expeditions, we have an onboard doctor that will review your medical forms and reach out personally with more information if you indicate that you suffer from seasickness or motion sickness.
What alternative options and devices are available for seasickness?
Ginger can be a light remedy that may settle your stomach and comes in many forms. You can keep crystallized or candied ginger in your pocket as a snack, or sip ginger teas while relaxing on the ship. Other available options are ginger tablets, ginger powder, and ginger gum.
Acupressure Wristbands have a button permanently attached to a stretchy band that is placed over an acupressure point on your wrist and are like wrist sweatbands. Seaband and Psi Bands are two examples.
ReliefBand produces a small neuromodulating current that potentially stops peristaltic waves in the stomach, ceasing nausea and vomiting, and is worn like a wristwatch.
Sense Relief is a free app you can download if you own an Apple watch. The app applies pulsating acupressure on the underside of the user’s inner wrist to relieve nausea and symptoms of motion sickness.
QueaseEASE consists of a unique blend of pure essential oils and was formulated to calm the queasiness associated with surgery and for some can soothe seasickness. The user simply takes a few deep breaths of the aroma for immediate relief, repeating as much as necessary. It is available online.
Motioneaze is a highly concentrated herbal oil that is applied to and absorbed through the skin just behind each earlobe, which then travels to the inner ear, potentially calming symptoms.
- Bring an assortment of options as nothing works for everybody, but something will work for everybody.
- Book a mid-ship cabin near the waterline and/or spend your time on the part of the boat with the least motion for you.
- Take preventative drugs well before any potential motion sickness exposure so it has time to work. If you are already sick, it’s too late.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and greasy, spicy foods before and during your voyage.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Do not read.
- Reduce sensory inputs by keeping your head and body as still as possible. Lay down with your eyes closed and sometimes listening to music or a podcast can distract you.
- Avoid enclosed areas where you can’t see outside.
- Keep your eyes on the horizon to help sync your eyes and balance system.
- Seek out breezy areas with fresh air.
- Eat bland foods to keep something in your stomach. Food high in protein has recently proven better than carbohydrates for reducing nausea.
- When all else fails, remember conditions will change and you will feel better soon!