Natural tips for combating motion sickness / seasickness
The quiet majesty of a polar morning.
The far-off sound of a humpback spout.
The gentle rocking of a berg-filled sea.
Oh... Oh, no...
Seasickness, or more generally motion sickness, is a very identifiable problem. Most people will be affected by it at some point in their lives, whether in a car or plane or on an ice-strengthened expedition cruise ship.
The exact cause of motion sickness is still unknown, but it is thought to be the body's reaction to conflicting signals in the sensory receptors of the nervous system, particularly the inner ear, eyes, and skin. A few people couldn't get it if they tried, most get it in the right (well, wrong) circumstances, and some get whoozy just by watching bad home videos.
But just because you embark on sea travel doesn't mean you'll spend the whole voyage leaning over the rail. And if you're anticipating rough waters, there are definite steps you can take to alleviate or even eliminate your symptoms before resorting to drugs.
Here are some seasickness tips we've found helpful.
1. Eat right, light, and include ginger to avoid motion sickness
The most important thing is to stay hydrated. Even if you do have to - ahem - refund your lunch, being dehydrated will make that so much worse.
Also, don't eat heavy foods or anything that typically upsets your system, even just a little. Foods that may lead to the slightest discomfort on land can precipitate an avalanche of seasickness while on the water.
A chunky, half-digested avalanche even the fish won't touch.
Instead, eat a small portion of something bland and preferably high in protein, like peanut butter and crackers, until your stomach is stable. Many people swear by ginger in any form, as tea or candy or in a tablet, as well as peppermint.
2. Seasickness is only made worse with booze
A dry martini may settle your nerves, but it won't settle your stomach if the sea gets bumpy.
Alcohol also dehydrates you, which not only exacerbates the effects of motion sickness, but is one of the chief reasons hangovers make you feel like a tumble-dried gym sock that skipped the wash. We recommend avoiding the booze until your stomach's up for it.
3. Acupressure wristbands and acupuncture needles can abate motion sickness
Many seafaring travelers find the best way to naturally avoid seasickness is to literally put pressure on it. Acupressure wristbands or travel acupuncture needles, neither of which are painful, can be lifesavers.
These items not only treat motion sickness, but they can even be useful against anxiety, headaches, and other maladies.
4. Watch the horizon (a longstanding seasickness cure) and keep your face cool
These age-old motion sickness remedies, often tied together, will probably be your best bet. Keeping your eyes locked on the horizon will eventually get the message to your brain that the world itself isn't swinging back and forth.
And being outside with the bracing wind on your face will help too. At the very least, you'll have a better chance of seeing the polar wildlife there.
5. When it comes to motion sickness, less agitation = less regurgitation
Sometimes it's all about location, location, location.
If seasickness is threatening to overtake you, get to the part of the ship where you'll experience the least motion. Less motion means less disagreement between your eyes and ears. We recommend the center of the ship and the lowest possible deck.
6. Keep clear of the other seasickos on board
If you're a sympathetic sort of person, you may feel inclined to help your fellow passengers with their motion sickness - especially if you know them personally and/or they're sharing your cabin. But this can do more harm than good.
Seasickness can be catchy, kind of like yawning. And the smell won't do you any favors either.
7. If all else fails, ask the ship doctor for motion sickness meds
Okay, so this clearly isn't another natural seasickness remedy.
But if all the tips we've mentioned don't help, it's time to avail yourself of modern science. Don't worry, motion sickness meds are safe and effective and always at your disposal during your voyage. Meds like scopolamine are among our favorites, and though some may make you drowsy, that's a whole lot better than an ongoing need to hork.
Taking care of seasickness early with a few natural remedies (and being open to medicinal help if those remedies don't work) will help keep your polar adventure happy and your food in your stomach, where it belongs.