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As a child I would journey for hours in the back of a car reading a book and felt fine, I travelled the country on National Express coaches as a teenager and never had a problem and I could ride any spinning fairground ride without batting an eyelid but in the last few years travel sickness is something that has crept up on me.
I don’t have any problem when I am driving a car nor when I am a passenger as long as I am looking out of the window, as soon as I try to read a map or printed directions I start to get that familiar queasy feeling in my stomach and I have to look up again which can be a bit tricky if we are lost! I can easily handle this feeling in the car by changing my eye line but when on a ferry or a plane it is not so easy so I needed to find a suitable treatment.
There are many travel sickness tablets on the market but I specifically wanted to find one that was suitable for my whole family, worked quickly and wouldn’t cause too much drowsiness. After looking at the selection on offer I opted for the Boots Travel calm Tablets as they fulfilled the criteria:
Suitable for all the family: the dose on the packet starts at 3 years of age. Children 3-6 need quarter of a tablet, children 7-11 need half a tablet and adults and children over 12 take one tablet. This dose can be taken every 6 to 8 hours with not more than 3 doses in 24 hours.
Work quickly: some of the tablets stated that they needed to be taken on the evening before travel or several hours before hand. These tablets said that they needed to be taken 20 minutes before travel which seemed more convenient.
Not too much drowsiness: out of all the travel sickness tablets (that were not herbal or homeopathic) hyoscine is the ingredient that seem to produce the least drowsiness and these tablets contained 0.3mg of hyoscine hydrobromide.
A packet of 12 Travel Calm tablets are currently £2.49.
Hyoscine is an anticholinergic medicine so it has an effect on both the central and peripheral nervous system. The interference with the nerve transmitters helps to prevent the feelings of nausea but unfortunately can also cause a range of side-effects that can vary greatly from one person to the next. The commonest problem is drowsiness or a general feeling of giddiness. The next most common problem is a dry mouth, dryness of the skin and a problem in passing urine due to the interference of the parasympathetic nerves. People can also suffer from problems with their eyes, irregular heartbeats and constipation.
As well as listing the side-effects the leaflet in the box also lists a lot of contra-indications which should be read closely as these tablets are not suitable for anyone with Glaucoma, blockages or slow transit in their intestines, pregnancy, prostate problems, fast heartbeat, thyroid disorders etc. If in any doubt always check with your Dr or pharmacist.
The first time I tried these tablets was on a ferry crossing to France. We always prefer the long crossing to St Malo but I always managed to feel sick within about an hour of stepping on the ferry. I must say that I have never actually vomited with travel sickness but I have felt very ill and have frequently had to lie down for the complete crossing. I forgot to take the tablets before we boarded the boat and it wasn’t until I felt the familiar nauseous feeling sweep over me that I remembered they were in my bag. The tablets themselves are just over half a centimetre round and have a cross-score on them to enable cutting or splitting to provide a child’s dose. I have found that they are quite easy to break by hand. They didn’t taste too bad and I quickly washed one down with a glass of water. Within about 10 minutes I notice a definite improvement with how I was feeling and within about 40 minutes my symptoms had disappeared altogether. We were doing an overnight crossing but I can’t say that the tablets caused any drowsiness because as normal I couldn’t get to sleep for hours in the ridiculously small ferry cabins! On the return journey we took the catamaran and it was a dreadful crossing with most of the contents of the shop rolling around in the aisles and the cafe having to close as they couldn’t serve hot drinks as it was a health and safety issue. This time I had taken my tablet before boarding and I couldn’t believe how effective they were, I didn’t feel even the slightest bit queasy.
I have also used these tablets on planes but only when suffering quite bad turbulence, they have worked well in this situation as well although by the time they have kicked in we are usually past the worst of the problem. My husband now always takes one of these tablets when he boards a plane as he travels a lot with work, he has found that they really help him drop off to sleep as they make him quite drowsy. I really wish they had this effect on me and then I wouldn’t have to spend family plane journeys wide awake whilst he snores away happily on my shoulder!
A couple of years ago we took our first cruise around the Med and had a wonderful time and the sea was so calm that although I had packed my Travel Calm tablets I never took them out of the case. Last year I took my parents on a cruise from Southampton and we crossed the Bay of Biscay. We had a very bad crossing and I felt quite ill and took my tablet as soon as I realised how bad it was and my mum was suffering worse than me so she also had one. I felt fine very quickly but although my mum said that they certainly took the edge of her sickness she still felt a bit ill. We both had to take a second dose after about 6 hours as it was a long and choppy day! On the return journey someone suggested we tried taking a tablet when we went to bed the night before we were due to arrive at the Bay of Biscay, we did this and found that we felt fine in the morning but took another tablet anyway and we found the crossing easy although lots of passengers were complaining about the sea and the ship was certainly bouncing about.
Although I bought these tablets because they are suitable for the whole family the children have never actually had to take them as they are both excellent travellers so I have not been able to observe how effective they are in children.
One of the problems that I suffer with these tablets is that I do get a dry mouth so tend to find I need to drink more water but luckily I do not suffer any problems in urinating! The other problem I have found is that I cannot wear my contact lenses whilst taking these as my eyes dry out a little and they are just uncomfortable but it seems these tablets also temporarily change the pressure inside the eyeball and can alter the shape slightly which would account for the discomfort.
I would recommend these tablets as they are very effective at preventing travel-sickness and also at treating the symptoms once they have already appeared. The side effects are not too severe and they don’t cause the excessive drowsiness that some of the other tablets cause. The shelf life of the packet is about 3 years so a packet lasts me several trips so they work out to be good value too.
I'm generally ok as a passenger in the front of a car, but ferry's get me every time! Rebecca Xx
Coloneljohn 19.07.2011 17:20
These are good. Well reviewed. John
sorehead 15.07.2011 09:30
Another great review. We tried these but I think I can remember them making my other half feel a bit sluggish, we were on a Ferry trip to France and she wasn't well anyway so maybe it wasn't the pills. Thanks for sharing