Train Sickness

Trains are generally one of the better options for motion sickness sufferers, however many people experience discomfort when seated facing against the direction of travel.

Some travelers also report feeling unwell on high-speed tilting trains (such as Britain's Pendolino services) and, in particular, on the Eurostar service linking the UK to Belgium and France though the underwater tunnel under the English Channel.

For those prone to motion sickness, a forward facing seat is crucial. Most trains have both forward and backward facing seats (with the honorable exception of Japan's Shinkansen bullet trains where the seats all face forward - they are automatically turned at the end of every journey!).

Unfortunately, you may have difficulties booking forward facing seats. Often the booking agents simply don't know what the exact configuration of the train will be. And even if you appear to have succeeded in booking forward facing seats, it is common to arrive at your seat to find that it is not, in fact, forward facing after all. If this happens, and nearby forward facing seats are occupied, ask to swap with someone. The threat of a sick fellow passenger is usually enough to make people agree to move. But do be sensitive - you may have picked a fellow sufferer. You can also ask the train conductor or onboard manager for help. Clearly it is as much in his/her interests as yours that you are not physically sick on the train!

The smoothest and most stable part of any train is towards the center of the middle carriage. The 'sideways' visual stimulation that you get from the window when sitting in an aisle seat can be uncomfortable, so sit in a window seat and try to look forwards along the length of the train as much as possible. Alternatively, put your head back, close your eyes and try to 'tune out'. Headphones and soothing music may help. But don't miss your stop!

As with other forms of transport, reading may trigger sickness, so is best avoided. Many long distance rail services now have a 'quiet coach' which you will find more relaxing if you wish to sleep.

Good ventilation is very important, so open a window if possible, or stand by the train doors at station stops for a fresh air 'fix'. Move seats or carriages if someone near you is eating strong or unpleasant-smelling food, or wearing a heavy perfume. If you find the carriage too hot or too cold talk to the conductor or train manager. He or she may be able to adjust the temperature control for you.

Walking through the carriage, and especially between carriages, can bring on nausea very quickly, so stay in your seat as much as possible. Eat lightly and take regular sips from a bottle of water or flask of ginger or peppermint tea.

If you do become nauseous and can't bear to stay in your seat then make your way to the vestibule at the end of the carriage. In the vestibule, hold on to one of the grab rails, close your eyes and try to move with the motion of the train. You may look slightly odd, but it can have a very positive effect on how you feel. If you choose the correct end of the carriage, you'll also have the advantage of being positioned next to the restroom, should you require it.

If the worst comes to the worst, and you can't bear it any longer, get off at the next station and wait for the following train. Hopefully you'll be feeling better by the time it arrives!


cazzers_123 on July 9th, 2014:
Best tip I found is to go to sleep. That way you're unconscious and don't feel anything, in fact the rocking of the train is quite relaxing.
Dude on August 4th, 2014:
"You can also ask the train conductor or onboard manager for help." - Good luck finding staff if you are on a heavily populated train in the UK though.
cazzers_123: "Best tip I found is to go to sleep." - Some of my worst experiences have come about as a result of falling asleep. When you wake up, then you will pay.
Chox5115 on August 5, 2015:
I can recommend the following. Firstly, avoid looking out of the window at all. Studies have shown the sickness is caused by confusion in the balance centre of your brain caused by what your eyes tell you (the train is leaning one way) and what your body senses(the train is in fact tilting in another direction to what the eyes see) Get an aisle seat and read. If you need to look up to rest your eyes, only look around the carriage, not out of the window. Save that for when the train stops at stations. Try to eat and drink as normal; an empty stomach makes things worse. Avoid getting out of your seat until you leave the train, if you possibly can, but if you do have to, just avoid the temptation to look out of the window.
Someone on August 7, 2015:
I'd recommend to have sugar. Stuff like lollipops are sweet, and take away the puking.
Fellow sickie on October 11, 2015:
I could NEVER EVER READ during movement.
Pseudonym on January 12, 2016:
I think if you have car sick tablets they will work, but if you don't do all the things above make sure you have a sick bag with you at all times. Bring a few. Or if you vomit a lot go to the middle or the front whichever works for you, or if you're like me I like sitting frontish (near the front but not at the very front!).
Megan on July 15, 2016:
My friend and I are planning a trip to China with 4 overnight train rides... Last time I did that in Norway the next day was awful - it's like my brain had been rattling around in my head while laying down and I was dizzy the next day with one incident having to grab the wall because the whole world began to move! I think maybe if I can sleep sitting up that will help? I'll read some of the remedies too! P.S. No reading or even looking at stuff on my phone in anything but an airplane!
Ivan on August 1, 2016:
I got seriously ill on a Pendolino train coming from Carlisle, after getting off at Euston I had to be attended by first aiders and eventually paramedics came (after 2 hours). It was a severe bout of motion sickness which got complicated. But it means that Virgin staff should take motion sickness in these trains more seriously. I wonder if legal action would be a possibility, to at least make them probe into the mechanics of the train... or ensure to have sick bags available and give people warnings about this.
Matt on November 23, 2016:
Be careful what you eat before your train ride - stick to stuff that you can digest easily or it could make matters worse. Here in Canada we have a drug called Gravol that helps with nausea (makes you sleepy though). I find the best nausea preventer is good old cannabis! It has the added bonus of making your long train ride a bit less boring. If weed gives you anxiety, then it might not be a good idea with all those people around. But for me, it's great.
crazynurse on March 2, 2017:
Wear Seabands on your wrists and don't read. Suck boiled type sweets. Pendolino trains should be banned, worst experience ever.
Zany Lou on May 15, 2017:
I've tried the wrist bands a couple of times and found I was less ill. I'm better at night or on a very cloudy day where you don't see that flick-flick of light from the window. I find that sitting very still with a thick band over my eyes, sucking boiled sweets and sipping very cold sugary fizzy drinks helps. Terribly unhealthy but worth it. Several times I've arrived at Euston too ill to stand, and had to lie down on the platform until help arrived. The staff were sympathetic and offered any help they could. But I think someone should investigate those Pendolino trains. I was fine on the old ones.
Sharon Simons on May 31, 2017:
I went from Euston to Glasgow not knowing it was a tilting Pendolino train as it is not advertised when booking the tickets. I suffer with an inner ear disease called Labyrinthitis and can honestly say never again. It was the worst experience of my life . I contacted Virgin trains to ask why there are no warnings about these trains but never got an answer. On the return journey I took herbal anti sickness tablets which did help slightly and also found listening to music through headphones helped but I really feel these trains should carry a health warning !! Virgin should offer an alternative to these trains even if it takes double the time to get there.
Nikemom on July 15, 2018:
I was sick after being on the shinkansen, the high speed train in Japan. Constantly felt like the floor was moving. It was worse in small spaces and lasted about 3 weeks.
Wedontcount on March 15, 2019:
Having had awful motion sickness on Virgin train I have booked to go up north using LNER instead. Now I find out they are introducing these cursed tilting trains on their route. No mention of this when I booked the tickets a while ago. I have always been ok on trains so this is a serious blow to travel. Back to driving and clogging up the roads I suppose. It is all about making money so they won't care about customers like us.
Cheryl on June 15, 2019:
Close one eye.
Joanie on September 28, 2019:
Virgin pendolino trains are a nightmare for me. Felt very ill due to motion sickness traveling from Runcorn to Euston. Should carry a health warning. Awful.
SueCardiff on February 2, 2020:
Very ill for first time ever travelling to family get together on West Coast Euston to Glasgow route. My daughter following day on Birmingham to Edinburgh also very ill. I hadn't mentioned my experience before her journey. We both had to sleep to avoid throwing up. Afterwards, we both agreed each of the trains were throwing carriages around. Not nice and will be hesitant taking those trains again!
FinsburyParkRanger on February 24, 2020:
I've found one thing that works like magic. It was on the awful Euston to Glasgow train which made me sick as a dog. The trick is to Place your head on the glass window. For me this took the nausea right down to a manageable level. See if it works for you.
Kim on July 17, 2020:
I have to agree, the Pendolino trains are awful. It's just common courtesy to warn motion sickness sufferers about these trains. I spend 3/4 of my journey on the disgusting toilet floor - nightmare never to be repeated.
Grant Milton Keynes on May 11, 2022:
I've booked my GF & myself a short break in Edinburugh for he birthday. She suffers from travel sickness on the train & always has to be forward facing. However... I've pushed the boat out & booked us London to Edinburugh overnight beds on the Caledonian Sleeper. I'm worried what should be a lovely surprise, might turn out to be a disaster. Any tips?
Angela on June 11, 2022:
Recently travelled on LNER train from London Kings Cross to Waverley Edinburgh on 10 May 2022. Felt very nauseus all the way especially when train going very fast. Recovered sitting on platform on arrival. Next morning felt very nauseus again and lightheaded. Condition got worse over next few days and ruined my holiday as could not sightsee. Chemist said it was severe case of travel sickness and vertigo and gave me pills but these had not worked when I was due to return. Luckily my cousin took me in as hotel where I had been staying had no room. After 3 days recuperated somewhat and due to travel pill return journey was better. However it has taken 3 weeks to completely recover. Horrible experience. Have written complaining to LNER but no response yet but shall pursue. Never had problem on normal trains before.
BillyK on March 10, 2023:
Travel all round the world no worries. Pendolino from Milton Keynes to Manchester and it's like I've been on the worst ferry crossing you can imagine. Please make it stop!

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