On Planes Trains and Automobiles

“Of the gladdest moments in human life, methinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of Habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many Cares and the slavery of Civilization, man feels once more happy.”

― Richard Francis Burton

Planes trains and automobiles are often no fun at all when you are a spoonie, or even when you are not.  For me, the actual travelling part takes its toll and the careful management goes into overdrive. Perhaps this is a part of the reason I like to travel solo.  I don’t have to worry about how my illness will bother anybody else, I can take my time and rest when needed.  Just to add insult to injury, I also get very nauseous when travelling. Now as soon as I say this, people jump in with suggestions: “Have you tried Ginger?” “what about xyz naturopathic what not” .

Yes I have tried them.

No they do not work.

Really, anything that you can buy over the pharmacy counter or at the airport newsagency is just not going to cut it.  Heavy prescription meds don’t cut it, I can take them all and still spend 60% of the flight or trip on the floor of the bathroom vomiting.

Don’t ever ask me to go on a cruise.

Also here are a few other myths to add to the ‘have you tried ginger’ list

  1. Be the driver.  This is a basic one, everyone knows that you don’t get sick when you are in the drivers seat right?          WRONG.  I get sick still, even on a straight road
  2. Drink plenty of fluids.    WRONG again.  Ill just throw them back up.
  3. Keep looking out the window.  WRONG, makes no difference at all

So here a few tips that DO make a difference, that may well surprise most people.

  1. Take the drugs!  I don’t like taking meds at all, perhaps because I have been on so many for so long, but sometimes they are really needed.  I take prescription anti nausea tablets, and while they only reduce the sickness a little it is completely worth it. (BONUS TIP:  Get a signed letter from your GP listing ALL the medications you are required to take when travelling internationally with meds  I might do a longer post about this one later.)
  2. Don’t eat the meals, instead take a packet of plain salty potato chips (Crisps) and a bag of sugary, chewy lollies, all the things that are usually bad for you, and nibble on them from time to time. These will tell your brain that you’ve eaten but wont sit heavily in your stomach.
  3. This one may come as a surprise, but have a gin and tonic.  Well, actually its the tonic water that is good, the gin is just a bonus (unless your meds mean you cant have alcohol, be clear about that one) DO NOT GET DRUNK.  Shouldn’t really have to mention that, its never going to be a good thing, but 1 G&T spread out over several hours, is good.  The quinine in the tonic water is excellent for settling stomach and muscles
  4. Travel by day.  Travelling by day means you can stay alert and awake.  Tiredness is a huge factor in nausea, as soon as your body decides its too tired to keep the content of the stomach in place, you are done, there is no turning back.  This of course doesn’t always work, and sometimes you have a long haul flight or train trip, so here are some extra tips about those:
  • Manage your trip so you have  long stopovers somewhere where you can lay down.  Like a day or so.  Get a hotel for the night, see a bit of the spot you have stayed in and make the trip a whole lot more pleasant.
  • Travel business class.  Ok, so trust me I know thats almost impossible on a budget, but I had the privilege of  being able to do this recently and WOW did it make a difference.  I got to lay down for 9 of the 11 hour flight, and at the end of it, I felt ok.  Im not going to say I felt amazing, but I suspect I felt, what most non-spoonies feel after a 11 hr trip in cattle class. Which is pretty damn good for me.
  • Try to lay down wherever and whenever you can, and doze if possible.  I take sleeping pills as well as the anti-nausea ones (all prescribed by the  same doc who knows what goes with what and what doesn’t) and while I hate that I have to have them, I know how much better I cope with even a little sleep.


The last thing to remember is to be kind to yourself, don’t push yourself, thinking it will be fine, chances are it wont. Allow more time than most people would to get from a to b, and try as much as possible to travel light and organised . (Ill write another post about that one soon!)


Happy Travels





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