Preventing Motion Sickness: Best Practices for Student Bus Travel

For many kids, the school bus is a necessary evil – a bumpy, winding ride that gets them to school but often leaves them pale-faced and nauseous. Motion sickness is a real problem, with all the stopping, turning, and potholes along the way. Students struggle through queasy commutes, only to feel fatigued and unable to concentrate once they’re in class. It’s just as bad on field trip transportation. Motion disturbance affects inner ear balance and triggers headaches, dizziness, and vomiting. It’s miserable for students and disruptive for learning. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With awareness and some simple solutions, we can ease the ups and downs of the bus ride. Drivers, students, parents, and schools all play a role in creating a smoother, less nauseating trip. A few easy tips can keep kids comforted and sickness-free. Let’s explore how we can work together to make the school bus a place for happy, healthy students.

Causes of Motion Sickness

Preventing motion sickness on a bus means understanding what leads to that queasy, dizzy feeling in the first place. Motion sickness is caused by sensory conflict – when your eyes see motion but your inner ear feels something different. The inner ear contains fluid and motion sensors that detect acceleration changes. When the bus speeds up, slows down or turns, it disturbs this delicate balance system. The brain gets confused by the mismatch between what you see and feel. Curvy or bumpy roads force constant adjustment. Stopping and starting can bring on nausea. Sitting backward tricks the brain since your inner ear says you’re moving forward. These types of motion changes overstimulate the inner ear and overwhelm the brain, resulting in headaches, dizziness, nausea – all the joys of motion sickness. Knowing the science behind it allows us to find ways to minimize the disturbances that trigger it.

Susceptible Riders

While any student can suffer from motion sickness, certain kids are more prone to it. Young children under age 12 have underdeveloped vestibular systems in their inner ear, making them especially sensitive to motion changes. Students with existing inner ear problems, chronic migraines, or other vision/balance issues are also very susceptible. Sitting backwards exacerbates the problem, since the inner ear senses forward motion while the eyes see the bus moving away. Riders who look down at phones or books instead of the road ahead are more apt to get sick by not syncing visual and physical cues. First-time riders and students who have switched bus routes are also very vulnerable since they’re not adjusted to that particular bus’s movements. Being aware of the kids who are most at risk allows drivers and schools to pay special attention to seating arrangements, warnings, and preventive techniques for these riders. A few small measures can make all the difference in keeping susceptible students nausea-free.

Driver Best Practices

While it may not always be possible to avoid a bumpy road or traffic jam, there are many ways bus drivers can operate their vehicles to provide the smoothest ride possible. The number one guideline is driving smoothly and avoiding sudden acceleration changes. Braking early and gradually rather than abruptly prevents the jerky stop-and-go motions that can induce sickness. Taking curves and turns at a controlled, moderate speed allows the movement to feel more natural. Properly maintaining the bus helps absorb bumps and vibrations. Simple fixes like tuning the suspension, replacing worn shocks, and keeping tires inflated to the right pressure improve comfort. Keeping the bus cool and ventilated also enhances comfort and prevents overheating. Communication and warnings are key – alerting riders to stops, curves or bumps ahead of time lets them brace themselves. Pulling over if a student feels ill and providing vomit bags demonstrates care. With training, awareness, and focus on providing a disturbance-free environment, drivers can implement best practices that get kids to school comfortably and nausea-free. Their diligence in following these guidelines can make all the difference in helping students have a peaceful, sickness-free bus ride.

Student Best Practices

While drivers control the actual bus operations, students can take steps to minimize motion sickness as well. Sitting near the front, facing forward provides the most stable ride. Focusing gaze on the horizon instead of down on a book or device syncs visual and physical cues. Speaking of devices, avoid using them, as well as reading, to prevent sensory mismatch. Engaging in conversation and storytelling with seatmates can provide a cognitive distraction. Staying cool with open windows or A/C prevents stuffiness. Eat a light meal beforehand and avoid strong food smells. For longer rides, acupressure wristbands or over-the-counter nausea medicine can help, as can breathing exercises during queasiness. Relaxation techniques like how to sleep on a bus also work wonders. The best activities and games for a long charter bus ride will also make the time fly by faster. If problems persist, report them to parents, the school nurse, and the driver so they can take action and get the student help. Working together, we can ease the commuting challenges of the school bus.

Parent and School Strategies

Parents and schools can take measures to alleviate motion sickness as well. Parents should communicate with the school nurse and transportation department if their child is prone to sickness, so the student can be seated near the front of the bus. Ensuring proper nutrition, hydration, and rest beforehand provides stability. Natural remedies like ginger, mint, or lavender can sometimes soothe nausea. Over-the-counter antinausea or motion sickness medication, used as directed, can be effective. If sickness persists, providing transportation alternatives such as finding a carpool may be necessary. Schools have a role too – providing training so drivers learn techniques to minimize disturbances from acceleration, curves, and braking. Maintaining buses properly also contributes to a smooth ride. Nurses can educate students on strategies that will help them understand how to sleep on a bus like avoiding mobile devices which minimizes visual disruption. With teamwork among parents, nurses, transportation staff, and drivers, and open communication about issues, schools can develop plans to reduce student sickness. Implementing preventive measures and addressing problems proactively helps ensure all students arrive healthy and ready to learn each day.


In conclusion, motion sickness is a common but manageable condition for student riders. Through awareness, prevention, and collaboration between parents, schools, nurses, transportation departments, and drivers, we can minimize nausea triggers. Implementing proven techniques like strategic seating, proper vehicle maintenance, driver training, and addressing individual needs makes a difference. By working together and utilizing all available resources such as charter bus rental Chicago for field trips, we can ensure students arrive refreshed and ready to learn. Our diligence helps pave the road to health and academic success.

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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