Since as long as I can remember, I’ve gotten motion sick on airplanes, in cars, and on boats. I have tried many different solutions to help reduce how sick I get, and the one that has worked for 15+ years for me reliably and easily is the ReliefBand. I was surprised to find out there is a new version out, and it is the biggest iteration for the product in a long time.
I first found out how bad getting motion sick could really be when I started flying for a company back in the early 90’s. I would arrive at the destination airport and need a full day to recover. Not very cost effective for my employer, so I started searching for a solution.
Meanwhile, on the boat, I would just deal with it – but I would get motion sick at a perfectly flat anchorage if a single motor boat went by and I was below. It was that easy (or bad, depending on how you look at it). Yet I continued to go out over and over, because I love being on the water.
Up until this point, while on the boat or in cars being driven by others, I would take Dramamine or other similar over the counter drugs. They helped, but usually put me to sleep at some point in the process, which also doesn’t work when you’re traveling for business.
I went to my doctor, and he prescribed anti-nausea medication (I forget what now) which worked better than Dramamine, but it put me to sleep faster! And there were some other side effects that messed with my digestion, and don’t even think about combining alcohol with them. I went through a few different revisions of these but they all had side effects that I really didn’t like.
I tried scopolamine patches, and they were great, but they still caused drowsiness, required a prescription, and were a bit more complicated to manage. You didn’t want to touch them if you removed them early or all sorts of funky things would happen.
Around this time, I stumbled on a product that was being marketed to pregnant mothers to help with morning sickness called the ReliefBand. I can’t remember who turned me onto the product, but a long relationship started!
The first versions I had of the ReliefBand were the darker blue ones on the left in the picture above. They came out with a slightly updated version years later with the lighter color on the right. Essentially, this product is a battery powered watch-looking device that has a couple of electrodes on the back, which when placed in the right spot on your wrist, almost completely eliminate the nausea / seasickness feeling. This is done with a small electrical charge applied in the right cluster of nerves over and over in a rhythmic fashion, called neuromodulation.
Here’s where the magic happens – the two electrodes that you place against your wrist. You can see they both have been around a long while, with the one on the left having a lot of scratches. Several times over its life, I used sandpaper to polish them back up. For a while the product was off the market, and I had to make sure the ones I had would last!
The older models were powered by two CR2025 batteries which you removed by tugging on the rubber front cover on the edge of the watch. This part was not necessarily the best design – the rubber cover was a pain to get back on, and the batteries were put in upside down.
Here you can see the upside down battery cage with the upside down UP indicator.
A good set of CR2025 batteries would last me about 8 hours on the highest setting, which was usually where I had to have it on longer or bad flights.
The key to making this all work was the conductivity gel. You need a little bit of this on your wrist before you place the watch on it so you’re not, well, cooking your skin. I found that I had to apply this every hour on more intense settings.
Once you have the gel on, using two finger widths from the bend of your hand or so, put the watch on upside down on the inner side of your wrist, and you’re ready to go. I found that this location needed to be varied just a bit depending on which wrist I had it on. My left wrist worked far better than my right.
Also, the pressure you have the strap tightened to, as well as whether you have your wrist flexed or straight matters quite a bit. Start on a low setting, and turn it up to get it just right. As I mentioned above, I usually had it set very high for most of my flights – between 4 and 5. Others who have tried it couldn’t go above 3, while a few people could never go beyond 1.
Changing the level required pushing the power button over and over, and sometimes you’d bump it and turn things up/off accidentally.
You can still get the older version on Amazon, and it works great.
Seriously, though, this was the only thing I had found in years that completely eliminated feeling horrendous on the water, in the air, or in the car. If you have never been truly motion sick or fully nauseous, it is debilitating – and when you’re in control of a boat, it can be dangerous!
Even with it being the solution to my woes, it was still a bit funky – the upside down batteries, the upside down or backwards watch with the face facing the wrong way which you bumped and messed up the electrodes, and moderate battery life. It just wasn’t quite perfect…
I used the old versions of the watch for over 10 years, probably longer. Then a few months ago, I saw an ad for a new version and was so excited!
At first glance, it is a completely different product. A single piece, much more engineered and custom – and oriented the right way – the watch face pointing towards you normally, and the electrodes on the back of your wrist. And even better, no batteries to mess with – just a USB cable to charge.
Unfortunately it is a custom cable, so in a way this could be worse – if you lose the cable, you’re out of luck once the battery runs down. I wish they would have used a standard USB cable for both ends.
The electrodes are bigger on this version, and look a lot better made. They give a much more spread out shock, which I like a lot.
On the side of the watch are the power control and on/off buttons. They are far less susceptible to being accidentally pushed like the old ones, and are easier to change up and down. The old watches you had to keep pushing the power button to cycle through the strengths and back around again.
Once its on, it looks far better than the old ones – more like a fitness tracker than anything.
The clasp is nicer than the old ones. A little hard to work with one hand, but infinitely more adjustable which is very important. The more or less you tighten things can dictate how intense the treatment is, and is important to be able to vary as much as you can.
To turn it on you hold the top right plus button a couple of seconds and you’re up and running. The upper right symbol indicates it is on, and pulses slowly. The big diagonal line in the middle is the power level, and I have it cranked up to max here. You can adjust that with the two buttons on the right hand side of the watch. The bottom right icon is the battery level – I have about 1/2 capacity – full capacity would be a four segment circle. This is a huge improvement as the older models had no indication of battery. I always carried lots of spare batteries, and fretted while on longer flights about running out.
When its operating, the only icon showing is the little heartbeat to let you know things are working. Very unobtrusive and easy to see things are OK.
I’ve used the new one on two 7 hour plane trips where I ended up having to wear it for almost 10 hours each way due to coming down after the flight. I’ve also used it a number of times on the boat, and it works even better than the old models ever did. It also appears to last almost double the time.
I like how more rigid the whole watch is, the longer battery time, easy USB charging, and the more custom design. Its easier to adjust things, and to know your battery status. I’m not a fan of the custom USB cable, but I am very careful to always maintain these well given they are the only way to overcome the motion sickness I have so often, so I doubt I will ever lose it.
If you get nauseous or motion sick, and are tired of trying things that make you more tired or have weird side effects, try the ReliefBand. You won’t be disappointed!