As a sufferer of travel sickness my whole life, I always wished I could travel the world or even take a train ride or bus trip into town. Unfortunately, where at all possible I’d always avoided being a passenger in any vehicle for fear of travel sickness engulfing me. As a child, I remember being one of those pupils who avoided school trips often when mum and dad went to market I would stay with my gran rather than risk a trip in the car. The memory is still fresh now some fifty years later of risking a car trip with mum and dad. This resulted in spending a great deal of time on the verge of the road vomiting into a bag, fearing ever getting into a car again!
I had much admiration for my father who had been a part-time firefighter, but this career choice along with any other connected with travelling in a vehicle as a passenger was prohibited to me. So I planned my life and job choice according to the restraints imposed by travel sickness.
On the flip side, travel sickness gave me the resolve over the years to save my birthday and Christmas present money along with earnings from a part-time and then full time job to buy my first car at age of 16 years. It was a white Ford Cortina Mk III (with a black vinyl roof) and I passed my driving test 7 days after my 17th birthday. At last freedom from travel sickness….so long as I was happy to drive!
The trouble with travel sickness is that people who do not suffer don’t really understand it and are sadly very often not particularly sympathetic. Since you’re reading this you probably know that it is a bloomin’ awful and miserable condition which can affect every part of your life and plans. You may also understand the fear a travel sickness sufferer has of disrupting a trip for travelling companions and fellow passengers to the point of avoiding the trip in the first place. Certainly for me a holiday abroad, a boat trip or a train journey was a big no-no!
Then one day on a trip to London, my wife Denise and I found ourselves running late and in desperation had to take a tube train. Denise was really worried about how ill I might be, then she remembered that I couldn’t use binoculars without feeling queasy but with a telescope I was fine so she suggested covering one eye. At the end of the short journey much to my amazement I felt distinctly better than I would have normally been! This was the first eureka moment.
This single event got me wondering whether this idea could be the answer to my travel problem. I put the concept to the test and for the rest of the weekend trip I travelled on more tube trains, a boat on the Thames and a London taxi cab and each time the same result.
Months of research then followed into the theories of why motion sickness happens and along the way I developed numerous prototypes based around a design similar to sunglasses. All of this led me to the conclusion that actually the best results don’t come from completely blocking one eye but from controlling the amount of transparency needed so that the eye sees light but not movement.
Then came my second eureka moment.
After perfecting the technique I realized that if you cover one eye over a period of time it could result in eyestrain and headaches. So what to do? Having two pairs of glasses was just impractical, and then a deceptively simple idea hit me; make the design of the frames symmetrical, top and bottom, then the glasses could simply be flipped over to cover alternate eyes.
Shazam! After years of development TravelShades were born and patented, making me officially an inventor!
With my TravelShades always to hand my life has totally changed. Denise and I have flown to Paris, Milan and New York and enjoyed an amazing 4000 mile road trip around Europe, as passengers on the back seat of the car, something I could have only dreamt of before. More importantly, now when I start to get tired when I’m driving anywhere with Denise, I just ask her to drive and I accompany her as a passenger!
What would the experts think?
Having found TravelShades worked for me I was very keen to present the concept to some of the UK’s leading experts and let them put the product under the microscope. As you might imagine this was a nerve-wracking move, after all, it could result in years of development being shot down in flames.
What resulted after meetings with Mr Nigel Kirkpatrick, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Professor Paul Marks, Consultant Neurosurgeon was full support of the concept and importantly its safety for users.
To say I was chuffed to bits would be an understatement!
One of the final pieces of the jigsaw was independent consumer testing.
Again we consulted with experts in the field and worked with Leeds Beckett University who devised a robust test that saw 93 sufferers undertake a coach journey with and without the prototype TravelShades.
The results were astonishing, showing that for almost 90% of trial participants their motion sickness symptoms were significantly relieved wearing TravelShades.
Proof positive that TravelShades work. A serendipitous trip to London which gave birth to an idea, can now bring instant drug-free relief to the many travel sickness sufferers around the world.
So here we are today, with a manufacturing unit all tooled up and our first adult range of glasses in production. I’m unbelievably excited about the year ahead and hopefully before long the production of our junior range.
I’m very much looking forward to seeing travel sickness sufferers living their lives without limit!