Simple Strategies for Outmaneuvering Motion Sickness

You’re sitting in the passenger seat of your family’s SUV, watching trees rush past in a blur. Your head spins, your stomach lurches, and a warm, clammy feeling comes over you. No, you’re not in love. You’re experiencing motion sickness.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day are among the busiest travel periods of the year. If you’re headed over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house, consider these strategies to stop travel sickness in its tracks.

Eat light, but do eat. Everyone knows not to eat a big meal before riding a roller coaster. For people prone to motion sickness, the same holds true for any form of transportation. What many travelers may not realize, however, is that an empty stomach is just as bad as one that’s too full. Make sure you’ve had a little something to eat before taking a ride on a plane, train, car, or boat.

Choose the best seat.  In a car, driving is best, because your movements (as you steer) match with what you’re seeing. If you can’t take the wheel, the next-best option is the front passenger’s seat, where you can see the road ahead and anticipate upcoming bumps and turns.

Don’t look out the side windows. The faster the movement outside appears, the worse you’ll feel.

Sit still! Lean back on the headrest and focus on the horizon or a distant stationary object to bring things back into balance.
Breathe. Take slow, deep breaths to reduce anxiety and alleviate symptoms. And keep the fresh air coming! In the car, crack a window. On a plane, turn up the fresh air feed overhead.

Don’t read. Looking down at something motionless while your body detects motion only makes things worse.

Have some sugar and spice. Ginger and peppermint both have stomach-calming effects. Either can be taken as tablets before a trip. Or suck on peppermints or ginger lozenges during the ride.

Try acupressure wristbands. These wristbands won’t make you a traveling fashionista, but they could help eliminate nausea. Built-in buttons apply pressure to a specific location on the wrist. For best results, apply additional pressure to the buttons every so often. Wristbands are reusable and can be worn without side effects.


For severe travel sickness, you can give over-the-counter meds a try, or talk to your doctor about
prescription options. (Be warned, though: these can cause drowsiness and may have side effects.)
Ruth Schiffmann writes from Falmouth, Massachusetts.