Tips to Avoid Altitude and Motion Sickness
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Tips to Avoid Altitude and Motion Sickness

Some of the world’s most magnificent views come atop mountains and sitting on boats amid the bluest of blue waters. You certainly don’t want to have those moments marred by not feeling your best.

There are a few student travelers who talk about how they needed to power through some unexpected moments in order to do what they wanted to do. This includes Jill Frazo, who traveled to Peru in 2018 and the Dominican Republic in 2019. She says she was surprised at first by how challenging it was for her to adjust to the altitude when her group visited the village of Huilloc Alto to assist in the construction of a school.

Photo: Jill Frazo

“At first, you don’t quite grasp what being 15,000 feet above sea level does to your body when you are not used to it. I was rudely awakened to find that taking three steps had me winded beyond belief,” Frazo said. “But it didn’t matter. I was there for a purpose that I was committed to seeing through.”

Frazo says she pushed herself harder than she ever had before and that in exchange for her efforts, she was welcomed into the village by the most amazing people. Her perseverance gave her confidence for years to come.

That isn’t to say we want to experience altitude or motion sickness if we can avoid it. Here are some tips to reduce the likelihood you’ll end up struggling in certain conditions.

1. Drink plenty of water

This may be a given, but dehydration causes many woes, particularly when hiking. Keeping hydrated helps you feel better both on water and on land.

2. Eat a light but high calorie diet

You need enough food to keep your energy, but too much may make it more likely you will not feel well. For hiking, this is a time when eating carbs should be fine, but generally avoiding foods that are greasy, spicy, or acidic is wise.

3. Control your breathing/get air

For hiking it’s important to control your breathing and for motion to get plenty of air. So if you are in a covered boat or vehicle, try sitting near a window.

For climbing, you can practice belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing for inhaling and forceful exhaling called pressure breath. To try it, put your hand on your abdomen when inhaling to take deeper breaths and exhale with pursed lips. You also can use rhythmic breathing where you inhale for three steps and then exhale for the next two.

4. Take it Easy

For climbing, take breaks and take it slow. For motion, if possible take breaks from movement or lie down. It’s also helpful not to read while on the go if you’re prone to motion sickness.

Photo: Hayes Benenson

5. Try other precautions

For higher altitudes, if possible spend a couple days adjusting to a higher altitude before climbing. For motion, you can try wearing wrist pressure bands.

6. Use medicine

There are medicines for both altitude sickness and motion sickness. You can look into options before traveling to be prepared. This includes both over the counter and prescription options. Your doctor can walk you through the options.

Overall, these steps help students like Frazo power through moments of discomfort to get the most from their trip. With a few small steps, you can have a fantastic experience in a plethora of locations across the globe. Happy Travels!

About the Author

Mary Rogelstad

Content Writer