How to prevent Travel Sickness on a Ferry Journey

Travelling with children can be a tricky business, especially if they are prone to travel sickness.

Mine seem to be fine with air and car travel, but when it comes to boats, that is an entirely different matter.

Back in February 2016, after a particularly rough ferry crossing from Poole to St Malo, I wrote a post on how to survive a ferry journey with kids, which is consistently one of my most read posts.

It took two years to pluck up the courage to take the ferry again, but this time we were blessed with mill pond like seas and breezed through the journey from Portsmouth to Caen without even a hint of travel sickness.

We have wanted to visit Northern Ireland for some time and after researching flights, car hire and ferry routes, we opted to take the Stena Line Ferry from Liverpool to Belfast, as it was the most affordable option.

In the run up to the trip, friends helpfully told me that this route is known for being rough, so I got prepared, bought our sea bands and hoped for the best……………of course, I left said sea bands on the table at home.

Thankfully we sailed (no pun intended) through the 8 hour journey without incident as the weather was fairly calm, apart from a bit of movement around the Isle of Man.

The same could not be said for the way back though and we could feel the wind whipping up as we boarded the ferry bound for home.

Having managed three ferry journey’s without a problem, I was confident that we would be fine and buoyed the kids spirits with the news that they were showing three films in the cinema onboard that they all wanted to see.

As soon as we cleared Belfast Lough, the boat really started moving and Isaac started struggling, complaining of feeling ill. Lying down didn’t seem to work, so we took him outside for some fresh air.

It wasn’t long until Sebby was complaining of feeling ill too, so we had both boys lying down on the sofa’s, trying to go to sleep, whilst Eliza happily played with her new friends in the soft play area, without a care in the world.

I took Isaac off for a walk around the ship, in the hope that the shop sold seabands, which thankfully they did. The change in him and Sebastian was almost instantaneous and both of them were up and feeling better within 5 minutes of putting them on.

The staff onboard were amazing, taking the kids minds off the weather with games, colouring in and even ice lollies.

Thankfully the rest of the journey continued without a hitch and we were welcomed back to Liverpool bu the most beautiful sunset.

Top tips for preventing Travel Sickness:

  1. Be prepared for sea sickness – ensure you have bags at the ready (Sebby made his into a Thanos glove when he felt better), a change of clothes and don’t forget sea / travel bands, it may be a mental thing but they worked for us.
  2. Sit facing forwards and if you have a window focus on the horizon – when a ship is riding to a heavy sea everything is moving. The only thing that is stationary is the horizon and looking at it will often  reset your internal equilibrium.
  3. Watch what you eat and drink – avoid greasy food and sugar which can make you light-headed and dizzy. We were offered Ginger Tea onboard which is another good way to settle the stomach
  4. Avoid Books and Computer Screens – reading, whether on a device or paper, is a sure-fire way to get you sea-sick
  5. Go to sleep if you can
  6. Chew Gum / suck a sweet – takes your mind off the rocking of the boat – minty sweets worked best for us and ginger sweets are also recommended
  7. Stay In The Middle – A ship balances at it’s centre so that is the place where motion is least pronounced. The bow and stern should be avoided at all cost
  8. Lay Down –  Some say that lying down prevents histamine from reaching the brain, decreasing nausea. Try laying on your back to prevent your stomach from being pushed into the deck by your body weight – this is only really possible if you have a cabin though.
  9. Distraction – older children can be distracted by fun games and challenges
  10. Mind over matter

19 thoughts on “How to prevent Travel Sickness on a Ferry Journey”

  1. I used to be the same as a child and would get travel sick on boats and planes, but fine in cars/trains (as long as I was facing forward)… These are good tips, I would also recommend having something to smell like vapo rub or any similar menthol type scent. I found this good to throw off any nausea.

  2. I have to admit I don’t do well at sea! These sound like some great ways to help treat travel sickness while on the ferry, after all, there are some amazing places you can go to by just crossing the sea!

  3. These are really good tips, thank you. I do love ferries and I never normally get travel sick but I have been horrendously seasick in the past! It’s really horrible!

  4. My sister used to get really bad travel sickness, driving to the supermarket which is literally a 5minute drive and she would throw up all over. Travel sickness is just awful for everyone.

  5. This is a really useful post for me. I travel to the Isle of Man quite regularly as I grew up there. I always fly instead of taking the ferry because I have bad memories of sea sickness. I lose lots of money flying, as the ferries are a lot cheaper! I’ll try your tips next time and see if they work for us.

  6. I don’t usually get sea sickness, but the one time I did get it was after I’d taken an anti-sea sickness tablet in Iceland on a whale watching tour 🙁 Will bear these tips in mind for future x


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