>  Family Travel Stories   >  How to Avoid the Snorkeling Nightmare — Motion sickness!

Going out on a day trip to snorkel is a fun way to engage with nature and see a whole new world—the underwater world. However, this fun day trip can quickly turn into a nightmare if one of your kids gets motion sick.

Our first snorkeling trip started out exciting as the boat took off from the harbor; the water glistened; and my daughters looked for mermaids. After 3 stops to snorkel, we headed back. That was when the nightmare began—my son could no longer contain his discomfort, and he vomited.

Luckily, we saw the symptoms early enough, and I sat next to him with a bucket. For the rest of the trip, he and I sat in the designated back of the boat section. Soon, the back area was full. My son cried and moaned, and then he finally fell asleep. I had to skip lunch in order to minimize the queasy “after affects” of his experience.

As soon as the boat docked, he returned to his normal self and said, “I’m hungry!” Off to lunch we went. He was fine for the rest of the trip.

Second Attempt . . . Success

Our second snorkeling trip started out with medication. I purchased 2 types of over-the-counter motion sickness medication. The medicine worked; we enjoyed a shorter 3-hour snorkel trip that did not include lunch so we all went to eat after the trip.

Girl scubadiving underwater

Third . . . Failure & Lessons

Our third snorkeling trip started with medication, which made my son feel invincible. He convinced us to let him eat and drink. He seemed fine, until the wind increased and the sea became rougher. The medication could not stop his motion sickness, and the vomiting started.

As I sat consoling him in disbelief, I thought this trip is ruined, and there are 5 more hours to go. When the boat docked for the first snorkeling opportunity, my son looked up and said, “I want to swim and see the fish!”

So we geared the kids up, let them slide into the ocean and went snorkeling. The trip seemed redeemed until the last hour, sailing straight back without any stops and food would be served. At that point, I knew what would happen. So I offered my son a deal: No food, not even crackers for the rest of the trip, and when we dock, I will take you wherever you want to go to eat.

“Anywhere I want to go?”

“Yes, anywhere.”

He agreed. I gave him some medication, and he slept the whole way back. We kept our promise and ended up at a fast-food restaurant. The day trip turned into a success.

Kid in water with float noodle

Fourth . . . Lessons & Rules

Here are some rules that I devised after these snorkeling trips in an attempt to help other families cope with day trips gone awry or families who simply want to know that they are not the only ones that stuff happens to as they travel.

Avoid the nightmare snorkeling trip with these 5 Simple Rules:

Rule 1: Eat a solid breakfast, something that will hold you for most of the day. I suggest having protein in whatever form appeals.

Rule 2: Pack a variety of anti-nausea medicine. There are several options available over the counter. The pros of these medicines is that they work and they allow people who are prone to motion sickness to enjoy a boat trip. The con of these medicines is the side-effect of drowsiness.

Rule 3: Do not eat anything while out on the water. Only drink ginger ale (ideally one with real ginger in it like Canada Dry) and nimble on some crackers, or organic candied ginger. This rule may be hard to follow on long day trips, but it is very important. Try packing your own ginger ale, candied ginger and crackers.

Rule 4: Take medicine at the beginning of the trip and then follow up with the second dosage after swimming/snorkeling (as directed by the medicine you select). [Note, there are other options that require that you take the medication the night before. Make sure that you have the proper medication for children, appropriate to their ages.] Be proactive to prevent symptoms from appearing.

Rule 5: Treat yourself to a nice late lunch after the trip.

It is hard to know how your kids will fare out on the open sea. My advice is to be prepared for the worst. For me, one kid out of three gets seasick. When I enforce these rules, my family can have a good day trip and a great time snorkeling.

Another thing to consider is that when you are the caretaker of a child who may get sick on a boat trip, you too may need to follow the rules listed above. It really depends how well you can handle the clean up and management of your seasick child. I find it easier to follow the rules, then I can be assured that I will be okay on the trip too and that I will be able to help my child cope with riding on a choppy boat.

Another way to handle motion sickness is to not go; however, we find the benefits of snorkeling outweigh the temporary state of motion sickness (which when managed, can be mild). Seeing fish, dolphins and sea turtles in their environment — nothing beats that. My kids agree too.

Every time we go on a snorkeling trip, we know what we will face on the boat, and we work together so that we all can experience raw, true nature.

Happy Snorkeling!

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