Nothing ruins a nice trip out on the water like seasickness. If you are a person who suffers from this affliction, you might avoid boats at all costs.
Luckily, there are things you can do to help reduce or avoid seasickness while out on the water.
By successfully avoiding seasickness, you will be able to enjoy a cruise, ferry, or other recreational watercraft.
Our Best Tips to Avoid Seasickness
Seasickness most commonly occurs when your inner ear is disturbed by the motion you are experiencing from the watercraft that you are on.
Seasickness is often a result of a change in your sense of balance or equilibrium.
The common symptoms of seasickness are:
- General unwell feelings
There are steps that you can take to reduce or eliminate seasickness.
These steps include:
1. Watch your Alcohol:
One major thing to avoid while on a boat is alcoholic beverages.
If you know seasickness is something that you are affected by, you are not doing yourself any favors by drinking.
Overconsumption of alcohol can often create sick feelings while on land, which means alcohol can exacerbate nausea already experienced due to seasickness.
2. Watch what you Eat:
Similar to watching what you drink, you will also want to watch what you are eating.
Overindulgence on food can also make you feel sick and increase the severity of the symptoms of seasickness.
You don’t need to just watch how much you are eating, but you also need to pay attention to what you are eating.
Heavy, spicy, overly greasy, or foods rich in fat also may worsen the symptoms that are experienced with seasickness.
You also don’t want to have an empty stomach, as this can be rough if or when you do experience any nausea.
Light or bland foods such as crackers, bread, or pretzels could be ideal.
3. Make sure you are Well Rested:
It is also a good idea to make sure you are well rested before you go out on the water.
If you are overly exhausted you can be more susceptible to the effects of seasickness.
Make sure before you set sail, you get a good night’s sleep. If your trip is longer than one day, you will also want to make sure you continue to get good sleep.
4. Avoid Strong Odors:
Strong smells can also increase feelings of nausea.
This can include strong food smells or other smells that are particularly bad or that you are sensitive to. If possible these smells should be avoided.
5. Do Not Face Backwards:
Facing backward on a boat can make your motion sickness worse. This is because what you are seeing might not match up with the motion you are experiencing.
When your body is feeling motion that your eyes are not processing properly, this can be the cause of motion sickness which is similar to seasickness.
Sitting somewhere that causes you to face backward can cause this issue.
6. Sit Where there is the Least Motion:
If at all possible, you can lessen your seasickness by sitting somewhere that experiences less rocking or other motion.
While on a moving vessel, experiencing no motion is impossible, but you can go somewhere that experiences less.
This lessened motion normally takes place in the middle of the vessel.
The sides of watercraft are susceptible to rocking with the waves, but in the middle, this is decreased.
It is even more stable the lower you are as well.
7. Don’t Read:
If you are prone to motion sickness, reading may make it worse.
Similar to sitting while facing backward, reading can also exacerbate motion sickness because you are focusing on something still and unmoving while you are moving can cause a disconnect in your brain.
8. Keep Your Focus Faced Forward:
Keeping your eyes fixed on the horizon ahead can help you with your motion sickness feeling.
This gives you a fixed point to focus on, as well as having a visual of what the ship is doing. This can help you visualize speed, motion, and direction.
9. Avoid Others Who are Also Suffering:
If you can avoid other individuals who suffer from seasickness, this might be beneficial to you as well.
This might seem rude or insensitive but listening to people get sick, or talk about getting sick, can force you to think about being sick yourself. This can make your own symptoms worse.
Listening to others get sick even without motion or seasickness, can cause sickness in others. This can be even worse when combined with motion sickness.
10. Find Fresh Air:
Sometimes, seasickness can be worse when in confined spaces. To combat this, it is sometimes beneficial to find fresh air.
Going up on deck or even finding a window or vent can supply a source of fresh air that can help with the feelings of seasickness.
If nothing else works for you, medication is always an option that is available to you.
While medication is not ideal, it is always an option worth looking into if nothing else is working for you.
Medications that are used for seasickness can be either over the counter or prescribed in extreme cases or for longer trips.
12. Try a Patch:
You can also be prescribed a Transderm Scop patch to prevent nausea and vomiting from motion sickness.
This patch has minimal side effects and should be reapplied approximately every 72 hours.
The patch is meant to be applied behind your ear.
How to Avoid Seasickness on a Cruise:
Cruises are a very expensive and luxurious means of travel. It is likely that you would not want to experience seasickness while on what is supposed to be a luxurious and relaxing vacation.
There are additional things you can do to try to reduce seasickness on cruises.
These things can include:
13. Be Prepared:
Cruises offer many luxuries and you might not think that you need to be overly prepared, but when it comes to seasickness, being prepared can make all the difference.
If you need medication, you will want to make sure you pack a sufficient amount. It can even be beneficial to take them before you are on the boat and seasickness is setting in.
14. Try a PSI Band:
PSI bands are a possible alternative to medication.
These bands are bracelets that are supposed to reduce seasickness by applying pressure to the inside of your wrist.
This is supposed to mimic the practice of acupressure to meant to relieve nausea.
15. Don’t Get in Your Head:
Just like avoiding others who are suffering from seasickness, not dwelling on your seasickness can be powerful.
If you convince yourself that you are going to get seasick, you will likely drive yourself to it.
This can also be true of obsessing from previous experiences of seasickness or motion sickness.
Overall, you want to try and remember that the fun activities and experiences that you have to while on a cruise, will outweigh the risk of becoming seasickness.
16. Get out of the Cabin:
Cruise lines offer many indoor activities, but it is a good idea to avoid these areas until you get acclimated to the ship and its motion.
There are plenty of activities that you can do on deck most cruise ships that will allow you to stay out in the fresh air.
This will also help you look towards the horizon if that is something that helps you overcome your sickness.
17. Choose a Larger Vessel:
Modern cruise ships, especially the larger ones, are equipped with stabilizers that can reduce the movements of the vessel.
Most ships pitch and roll while on the water, these stabilizers are made to help reduce these motions.
This is not true of the smaller cruise vessels, so booking your trip on a larger vessel might be a better option for you if you tend to suffer from seasickness.
18. Choose the Proper Cabin:
If at all possible, you will want to make sure you choose an ideal cabin that will reduce the effects of seasickness.
The ideal place to be is in a lower cabin that is centrally located. You could also consider a cabin that has a balcony to allow for fresh air.
If you have never traveled on a cruise before, and you are worried about seasickness, you will want to try to get a cabin in the middle or back of the ship and try to avoid the front of the ship.
19. Choose a Beneficial Itinerary:
If you suffer from seasickness, you will want to book a cruise that offers more ports than those that offer a longer time at sea.
This will allow you to get off the moving vessel more often and will be a nice break if you are feeling sick.
Shorter voyages often offer longer time in ports than at sea and week-long or longer trips can have more than one or two full days at sea at a time, which is not ideal.
How to Avoid Seasickness on a Fishing Boat:
If you are out on a fishing boat, you will likely want to focus on fishing and not getting sick. The tips listed above can be used on a fishing boat as well, but there are some tips that can be specific to this type of vessel and experience.
These tips can include:
20. Avoid Inclement Weather:
If you have the choice of when you are going out on the water, you will want to look for calm and smooth weather conditions.
High winds and rough water will make seasickness worse because the boat will likely rock more. This increased and aggressive motion can be tough to overcome when it comes to seasickness.
If the weather forecast does not look promising for the day, you should reschedule if possible.
21. Try to go out on a Private Vessel:
If at all possible, you should try to go out on your own fishing vessel or a privately chartered vessel.
If you have a private charter or private recreational vessel, you can choose when you have had enough and when to head back to shore.
If you are not on a private vessel, you might be subject to someone else’s schedule, leaving you stuck on the boat even when sick.
How to Avoid Seasickness on a Ferry:
Ferries are not necessarily a recreational vessel and are sometimes necessary for travel. As a native Michigander, I am very familiar with ferries as they are one of the only ways to get back and forth from Mackinac Island.
If ferries are a necessary evil, it is a good idea that you know how to handle potential seasickness while on them.
22. Try some Ginger:
If you have to travel by sea, and you know you are going to get seasick, you will likely still want to manage the symptoms.
One common and natural cure for nausea is ginger.
Chinese medicine recognizes the power of ginger when it comes to settling an upset stomach. There are many ways that you can snack on ginger.
You can chew on fresh ginger, dried ginger, crystallized ginger, or ginger candy. You can also drink ginger ale to help settle an upset stomach. The combination of the ginger and carbonation really works to settle the stomach.
23. Bring a “Sick bag”:
If you know that you are likely to get sick, or that you will definitely get sick, and traveling is unavoidable you might want to make sure that you have a sick bag.
Having a sick bag on hand can give you an alternative means of dealing with your illness than getting sick over the side.
This is also a more discreet option as well as being more convenient. Having this in your pocket or bag can mean that you have a quick response to any sick feelings that you might get in the spur of the moment.
24. Take a Nap:
If it is possible to take a nap, you should try to nap.
Sleeping will often mitigate the seasickness feelings that you might have. This might not be the solution for other forms of travel, for example, you wouldn’t want to sleep during your entire cruise, but if you are on a boat purely for travel, taking a nap might be highly beneficial for you.
25. Choose the Proper Seat:
Like many tips that have previously been mentioned, you will want to be on a middle seat as low and close to the water that you can be.
A ferry is no different, and you will want to look for a seat that is centrally located and on as low a deck as possible.
How to Avoid Seasickness on a Small Boat:
Most of the tactics for avoiding seasickness have been covered, but there are a few “small-boat” specific tricks to avoiding seasickness.
26. Stay Hydrated:
Make sure, even on your personal recreational watercraft, that you stay hydrated and have plenty of water.
Dehydration can be severe on its own, but some of its symptoms are similar to those of seasickness. If you are suffering even from slight dehydration, you can get increased symptoms of seasickness and nausea.
27. Avoid Direct Sunlight:
Similar to the tip to stay hydrated, you will also want to try to avoid continuous exposure to direct sunlight.
Direct sunlight and intense heat can also cause dehydration.
On a smaller boat, there may not be as many ways to avoid the direct sunlight. Wearing a hat can help keep the sun off your face. You can also make sure your boat has a Bimini top that is folded out to provide shade on your vessel.
Catamarans and Seasickness:
Catamarans are a better vessel for dealing with seasickness than their monohull counterparts.
Catamarans are multi-hulled vessels that offer more stability and open-air than a mono-hull vessel. A catamaran most often has two hulls with a flat deck across the top.
Because of the way the boat is constructed and designed, it has less chance for rocking and rolling with the waves. This decreased chance of motion can also decrease the risk of seasickness.
This is not guaranteed, however, and seasickness can still be possible.
Similar to mono-hulled vessels, you can use any of the tips featured above to reduce seasickness on a catamaran as well.
Catamarans also offer more area on the deck which allows for more possibilities for fresh air.
If you want to be inside the cabin, you will likely have many windows, even front-facing windows that can help you focus on the horizon if necessary.
We have another article entirely on how to avoid getting seasick on board a catamaran. Check it out if you need more tips!
Anyone who experiences seasickness or motion sickness might avoid water travel. This can cause issues when there are no other ways of travel, as well as cutting out a lot of entertainment and travel options.
Just because you suffer from seasickness does not mean you cannot enjoy the experience of water travel.
With proper management and finding what works for you, you can combat your seasickness and reduce it or even eliminate it entirely. This will allow you to have fun while out on the water instead of feeling sick or regretting your experience.
Shelby Sullivan is a freelance journalist who specializes in boating and recreational watercraft. She captains her family pontoon boat in her spare time with her fiancee and dog on the freshwater lakes of the United States. Shelby prefers swimming to suntanning, and you can most likely find her reading in the shade of the pontoon awning.