I fly quite frequently, both for work and personal reason. I take 2 trips a month on average. Since young, I have been pretty bad with motion sickness. I get giddy in the car, on small boat rides (large cruises are fine for me) and airplanes.
We get motion sickness when the movement felt by our body is not expected, or in sync, with what we can see. That is why children in the back seat frequently feel giddy after a long bumpy car ride. They can’t see where they are going, and they are experiencing all the twists and turns of the road.
One trick that works is to take the front seat, so your brain can anticipate movements. This helps reduce motion sickness. After all, drivers seldom get motion sickness because they are in control of the movement.
Now back to flights. Well, we can’t really get the front seat unless you are the pilot. And I have taken quite a lot of flights to be able to manage my motion sickness. Here are some tips that you might find useful.
Get a Seat with ‘Eyespace’
Avoid the first seat of each block, where all you can see is the wall in front of you. Try to get a few seats back, such that your eye can see the walkway. There is probably no scientific reason for this, but I am guessing it works similar to taking the front seat in cars – at least you can see some sort of movement as you feel the plane turning.
I also like the aisle seat, as it allows me to see more directly in front of me. The view of the window seat can be constricted at times.
Looking out of the window might work for or against you. In a way, it allows you to look far into the distance. But if you have a fear of flying, the heights might cause more apprehension.
Wear Motion Sickness Bands
I have 2 of these.
It works like acupuncture, with sometime protruding to press against your veins. I think it cost around $15-$20, which is pretty expensive for some cloth bands with a bead, but it serves its purpose. I feel much better when wearing these. Even if it is just placebo effect, it is still money well-spent if I don’t have to feel like throwing up after every flight.
Eat Ginger Pills Before Flights
Ginger is said to be able to relieve nausea. Most pharmacies sell ginger pills for travel. Stock up lots of those and pill the appropriate amount before each flight. Again, even if its placebo effect, I will still continue to do it. Note that ginger pills may negate the effects of certain medicine. I am not a doctor, so please consult your doctor before trying this.
Avoid Using the Flight Entertainment System or Your Mobile Devices
Especially when you are feeling unwell. Staring at these devices at such short distance cause motion sickness. I will also avoid plugging in earphones to listen to music. I have no scientific proof, but I recall hearing (no pun intended) that the ears play an important role in maintaining your sense of balance. And I will want all my balance to be fully present to avoid feel dizzy.
Prevent Onset of Motion Sickness Before and After the Flight
If you are taking a car or taxi to the from the airport, take the front seat (or drive) to avoid any tiny chance that you might get motion sickness.
Don’t Eat or Drink Too Much Before a Flight
Feeling bloated doesn’t help your quest to reduce motion sickness. If you feel even a slight hint of dizziness, you will feel like puking, and that’s not fun. An empty stomach may not work as well, as you will likely feel uncomfortable when you are starving which leads to other forms of anxiety. Just eat and drink sufficient to feel comfortable.
The less time you spend in a flight, the less likely you will feel motion sickness. You will also have more time on “land”, which is a place you are comfortable with.
It has now become my habit. I will have my meal 1.5 hour before my flight, reach the boarding get 15 minutes before the onboarding time, put on my seabands, pop the ginger pills, avoid staring at my phone, and be among the last few to board the plane. I will then settle down at my aisle seat with lots of ‘eyespace’, and look far ahead. I will only start using the in-flight entertainment system, play with my Nintendo Switch, or read a book after the plane is well in the air and the seatbelt sign is off.
It took me a number of flights before I could find comfort in flying. Most of these techniques are probably more psychological than scientifically proven, but they have worked well for me and I won’t bother or risk changing them. I hope they work well for you too.