I have suffered from motion sickness all my life, and if you’re in the same boat you know it’s no fun.

If you want to see the pathetic state it puts me in, Matt can do a pretty accurate impersonation of my “car sick” behavior (overdramatizing for comedic purposes of course).

Since we’re preparing for a trip to Alaska, I had to review all the natural ways to quell my motion sickness on the airplane and during curvy car rides through scenic landscape.


Years ago I used to stock up on Dramamine for plane rides and beg and plead with siblings so I could sit in the front seat for car trips. Thank goodness I’ve found some things over the years that work better and  don’t involve drugs that make me look narcoleptic. (Falling asleep on a stranger’s shoulder during a plane ride is not cool.)

If you suffer from motion sickness, you know that once it sets in there is little you can do to treat it; taking steps to prevent it is your best bet.

Traveling by car, airplane, train, or boat this summer? Review these several ways to reduce motion sickness and enjoy your trip.

Motion Sickness Remedies

Tips for preventing or reducing motion sickness

Breathing – My first line of defense against motion sickness is taking deep breaths. It helps with an upset stomach and reduces dizziness. Breathing slowly and deeply will give me bursts of relief on a short trip and help me relax overall. (It also doubles as a signal to Matt that his driving needs to be more smooth and gentle.)

Focus your eyes – My motion sickness is exacerbated when I look at things whizzing by me at high speeds. It helps to focus on the road ahead, the horizon, or a stationary object in the distance. Keeping my body still and my head facing forward is important so my brain and inner ear can sync up and aren’t so confused.

Acupressure wristbands – I discovered these in an attempt to prevent any embarrassment during a car trip with some girlfriends. I was desperate to enjoy the road trip and avoid making a scene with a head-out-the-window-barfing routine. Thank goodness they worked for me! The bands work by applying pressure to the inside of the wrist at the Nei-Kuan point. Stimulation of this acupressure point can reduce nausea. These bands can be purchased online, in drugstores, and some large grocery chains. Better yet, you can try making your own with a large rubber band and small pebble or bead! Just make sure to place it in the correct position.

Peppermint – Although peppermint has never really worked for me, each body is different. You can put a few drops of peppermint essential oil on a handkerchief and wave it in front of your nose while inhaling. Sucking on peppermint candies or drinking a strong cup of peppermint tea is also effective for some.


Ginger – (a.k.a. Zingiber officinale), is a fairly common remedy for motion sickness and nausea. It can be taken in many forms to be helpful. Try chewing on ginger candies (make your own!) or even eating ginger cookies. Slowly sipping ginger tea or all natural ginger soda may quell nausea. Ginger tablets or capsules can help, and work best if taken about an hour before traveling. (If you are pregnant or taking blood thinners you should consult your trusted health care provider before taking ginger.)

Motion Sickness Remedies

Other simple hints

If you’re prone to motion sickness, here are some other simple suggestions to consider:

  • Avoid reading or writing while in motion. (Yes, it can make for a very long, boring trip but it will help.)
  • Listening to music, laying your head back, and cracking a window (or directing a fan on your face if on an airplane) will calm you and keep nausea at bay.
  • Always face forward in your seat and avoid turning your head as much as possible.
  • Getting behind the wheel is best to prevent motion sickness in a car, but sitting in the front seat or in the middle of the back seat (so you can look ahead at the road) is the next best.
  • For a smoother ride, try to get a seat toward the front when traveling by bus, or near the wing on an airplane.
  • Give a disclaimer when getting into a car with others. I usually say something like this, “I’m not trying to be rude, but I won’t be able to look at you or read maps for you, and I would LOVE to sit in the front if at all possible.” This warning keeps me from having a miserable ride, feeling nauseated even after getting out of the vehicle, and keeps other passengers from wondering why I’m acting strange and looking green.

Do you suffer from motion sickness? What are your favorite tips for enjoying your travels and reducing sickness?

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Resources and References


photo credit to Patxi Izkue and The Wolf

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Comments

  1. Anna says

    Strange but works. Sit on few sheets of newspaper. We were desperate when our first baby was small, she would scream and throw up o any journey longer than about 10 mins. At 3 months a friend suggested this trick so we put some newspaper in a pillowcase and put it under her car seat fabric. It worked, I don’t know how and it definately wasn’t pyscological on a 3 month old. Since then I have occasionally forgotten to replace the newspaper and she has felt ill again. She is now nearly 7 and can cope without it on short journeys.

  2. Julie says

    First if u have had this issue your whole life I would highly suggest going to a dr some motion sickness can be caused by your inner ear if you dr does not find an inner ear issue a chiropractor would be next you would be surmised at how a good adjustment can help so u do all of that and still nothing works here is a trick we learned in chemo go to the store and buy running alcohol pads u can make them yourself but it was cheaper for use to buy them. You toss some in your purse when u fill that uneasiness open one and sniff it wham u fill human again now if this works on a person going through chemo then it will work on you .
    Ginger gum is another one but ginger can actually make people sick for those chew big red gum it has to be big red it helps cure a queasy tummy and Prego heartburn along with reg heartburn

  3. Sharon says

    Years ago, I realized that I never got sick when riding at night or when doing the driving.The process of elimination caused me to understand that when I am driving or when I am a passenger at night, I look ahead, at the center line of the road!

  4. Julie says

    Actually there is a reason before one vomits one gets hot and sweaty it is a warning sign to do your body knows what is going to happen if drank early enough the ice water cools the body temp in most cases that is and if u di not have I’ve water cold rags on the back of the neck or placed between the breast bone this is one of them grandmas home remedy that work

  5. Eve says

    I’ve had this problem my whole life too. Even as a baby. I tried the accupressure wrist bands a few years ago and it was like a miracle. No need for dramamine! The only downside is the indentation it leaves on your wrist but its tempoary.

  6. Nicki says

    I’ve gotten car sick for as long as I can remember. One of the things I do is stick my hand out the window. I don’t know why but that always seems to help!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Ha! It’s so funny you mentioned this Nicki! I do the same thing and my hubby always laughs at me…thinks I’m being silly, but it REALLY makes me feel better. :)

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Thanks Steph! Sipping on ginger ale, eating crystallized ginger chews, and cracking the windows a bit (if in the car) have really helped. We’re on our trip right now, and I’ve been doing great!

  7. Joy says

    I know exactly how you feel. I have dealt with motion sickness all of my life. The wrist bands don’t help me so I do whatever I can for relief. Even to the point of avoiding activities that will be a problem for me. I can’t even watch a high-def TV.
    A friend of mine swears by these devices though they’re pretty expensive. She has to drive up curving mountain roads to get to her parents’ house, so she needs something very often. She was not thrilled when they moved full-time up the mountain!

    http://www.seasicknessreliefband.com/Relief-Band-Voyager-Sea-Sickness-Relief-Device_p_11.html

  8. says

    MotionEaze – Drops you put behind your ear. They’ve got Lavender, Peppermint, Frankincense, Chamomile, Myrrh, Ylang-Ylang, and Birch in them. I found mine at WalMart and I put them behind the kids’ ears any time we’re going on a long trip or through the mountains. So far so good. Great as I can’t convince my kids to even eat the chewable Dramamine most of the time. They’ll get a big test in September when we drive from Salt Lake City to Anaheim and back :-) I also use them when I fly, along with the wrist bands.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Awesome Jessi! I saw some drops online a while back and had never heard of these before. I may give them a shot for our next trip. Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      We’re staying in the employee housing at Denali National Park. Our brother and sister-in-law are working here for the summer. It’s amazing.

  9. lorraine says

    Cool your hands and feet. Use ice packs or cold aircondition windows/dash board… cooling seem to be the key . I think that is why the hand out the window helps. I WILL SURELY try the newspaper trick :) Peppermints is a cooler so this could help but keeping the body temp cool would be best to start off at and then keep up with mint/hand out the window ;) Ginger don’t work for me when I have motion sickness. If I have just an ill feeling tummy a tiny bit can help.. but isn’t ginger a warmer?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Ah, yes…the cooling makes sense. I’m not sure about ginger being a warmer. I too, will be trying the newspaper trick…seems too easy! :)

  10. Laura says

    I do the driving! Then I know how the car is going to move instead of being at the mercy of someone else’s erratic driving. I never feel queasy when I’m driving.

  11. Ana says

    I, too, have suffered from motion sickness my entire life, and it’s much worse in the summer. I’ve tried all of your ideas and some of them do work for me. Peppermint, which I love, makes it worse but ginger (2 capsules one hour before beginning is best) is magic! When iffy, ginger snaps help and a strong ginger ale (Vernor’s for me) works when I run out of capsules. Ginger has worked so well, I read a book on our last road trip,which has never before been possible. I agree that keeping cool is essential! Good luck and have a great vacation.

  12. Deana says

    I second the motion-ease!! I bought it at Wal-Mart on a recent road trip and it worked great!! It worked for my kids and my husband, too. We drove from NH to FL in 2 – 12 hour that turned into 16 hour days and I think some form of motion sickness is unavoidable on a trip that long. Ginger helped, too. I had got one set of the wrist bands for my daughter that is the only one who has ever gotten sick in the car and they were a big help to her – she could even read and color and watch a movie!

  13. says

    I have had severe motion sickness all my life and have tried most all of the remedies detailed above with little relief. I heard a home remedy years ago that has helped my family and me. I know this sounds absolutely insane, but you take a plain brown paper bag and place it directly on the flesh of your stomach. I place it under clothes right against your skin. It has kept my family from throwing up and believe it or not I was even able to read without getting sick which would have caused me to hurl before! Will not work however once you are already car sick. Will only work if used prior to beginning motion. Have used successfully on my family for a few years whenever we go anywhere and it works great. Don’t have a clue how it works, but it does!

  14. Marla B. says

    I can sympathize with you. I even get sick working on my computer or turning my head too quickly. I have tried everything except the wrist band. I am always telling my husband to not make sudden moves while driving. It has gotten worse over the years and I hate to always be the party-pooper when we travel. When you are always dizzy & nauseated, it tends to put you in a bad mood. Sometimes all you can do is get horizontal & take some phenergan or just vomit and get it over with. I would love to be able to read while traveling and not always fight for “shotgun”, but that is out of the question. The only sure-fire way to avoid motion sickness, is to drive myself.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      I relate Marla…it gets awkward fighting for shotgun all the time or begging to drive, especially if I don’t know the people well! :)

    • Betsy Jabs says

      A topical mentholatum ointment rubbed onto his belly button? Wow! I’ll have to look into this more. I tried the paper bag on the belly as someone suggested and it didn’t make a difference for me. :(

  15. Jewel says

    I’ve tried all of those tips! (Except the sitting on newspaper one… I may have to try that one!) I’ve found the bands and peppermint work best for me. So I often carry peppermint gum with me (as well as my bands) for those unexpected windy road occasions.

    I’ve also heard (and read) that A cause of motion sickness could be from dehydration. I’ve noticed that when I haven’t sleep well AND I’m not as hydrated as I should be, I can get motion sick pretty easily. So, a week or two before a trip I try to make sure I’ve been drinking plenty of water and get plenty of rest. Works for me!

    Thanks for the tips!

  16. Tanya says

    Easiest, cheapest cure is: Block one ear with cotton wool (I was told blu-tack or cotton wool, but don’t like the idea of blu-tack in my ear!). I get EXTREME sea-sickness (and I’m married to a fisherman :s ), and my Mum heard this idea on the radio 10 years or so ago when they were interviewing a skipper from one of the yachts in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. A friend who gets car sick has also had success with it.

    The reason it works I believe, is that our brains decide we have ingested something to cause us to be disorientated when it receives conflicting messages from the eyes and ears – so then says “throw it back up so we get better”. By blocking one ear, the brain says “forget the ears, they’re not working properly at the moment, listen to the eyes” and there is no problem. I learnt the hard way though that if you lay down to have a sleep you need to UNBLOCK your ear while your eyes are closed! The ears are back in charge while the eyes are shut it seems :)

    Hope this helps everyone, I am still amazed at how simple a solution it is that worked for me. I had tried pressure bands, ginger, Kwells etc etc all with no luck – but blocking one ear with cotton wool works perfectly :)