How to Prevent Motion Sickness

Two Methods:Using Self-Care TechniquesUsing Home Remedies and Medications

Motion sickness can happen when you are in any vehicle involving movement, including a car, bus, boat, or plane. It occurs when your brain gets conflicting signals about whether or not you are moving. Often your body (specifically your vestibular system, which helps with balance and orientation) may signal that you are stationary while sitting in a car. This may contrast with the signals eyes are getting, seeing the landscape going by out the window.[1] People with motion sickness usually have nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sweating, salivation, shallow breathing, headaches, and/or sleepiness. There are a few things you can do to try to prevent or reduce motion sickness.[2][3]

Method 1
Using Self-Care Techniques

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    Look out the window frequently. Look at a stable object, such as the horizon. The visual cues of movement will enable your brain to synchronize the visual and physical cues of the swaying vehicle.[4]
    • If you are in a car, focusing on an object that is too close for you to clearly see, like trees by the side of the road, may make you feel worse. If you can't see the horizon (you are on a winding road, etc.), then close your eyes instead.
    • Don't read or play games — these things may actually worsen your symptoms.[5]
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    Reduce the feelings of movement. This lessens the conflict between the physical sensations of movement and the visual signals indicating that you are sitting still. Things to try include:[6]
    • Sitting in the front seat when you are riding in car.
    • Choosing a seat towards the front of the plane and over the wings.
    • Selecting a cabin on a boat that is level with the water and in the middle of the boat. This will help reduce the amount of swaying you experience.
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    Avoid heavy foods while traveling. Don’t eat foods that will be difficult to digest. This includes:[7]
    • Spicy foods
    • Greasy, fatty foods. This may mean avoiding heavy fatty meals at rest stops, airport cafes, or at the ship’s bar.
    • Alcohol and caffeine. If you are offered a complimentary drink on the plane or boat, you may want to consider turning it down. Ask for water instead.
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    Eat lightly to settle your stomach. These snacks are easy to digest and may help settle your stomach and lessen your feelings of nausea:[8]
    • Munching on dry crackers or other carb-heavy snacks
    • Sucking on hard candies. Mint is a popular flavor which will also freshen your breath.
    • Slowly drinking carbonated soda
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    Get some air. Fresh air will help combat nausea. You can usually control air flow in whatever vehicle you are in:[9]
    • Open a window if you are in a car. Chances are the air blowing into your face will give you instant relief. If it is raining and you can’t open the window all the way, try cracking it slightly.
    • Go up on deck if you are on a boat. On deck you will get fresh air and be able to see the horizon. Even if the boat is rocking, the wind and cool air should help.
    • Open an air vent if you are on a plane. Each passenger usually has access to an air vent overhead. Reach up, open yours, and aim the air flow at you. You should feel a cool breeze and reduction in your nausea.
    • Smoking, or being exposed to smoke, or other strong scents from air fresheners or perfumes may also aggravate motion sickness.
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    Don’t worry. If you are nervous about feeling ill, worrying will make you more vulnerable to it. Use relaxation techniques before you even start feeling ill. You can try: [10][11]
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    Try acupressure bands. These are cloth bands that fit snugly around your wrists. They have a button or knob that should press on the inside of your wrist between the two tendons running down the middle of your forearm.[12]
    • They should not be so tight that they hurt. If your fingers tingle or the blood flow is reduced, they are too tight.
    • Acupressure bands have not been demonstrated to be clearly successful in clinical trials treating motion sickness; however, some people feel they help.

Method 2
Using Home Remedies and Medications

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    Take ginger. Ginger is a common natural remedy for nausea, and many people use it for motion sickness. Consult your doctor before taking ginger if you are pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications with which it might interfere. If your doctor approves of you taking ginger, there are many tasty ways to do so:[13]
    • Ginger chews, lozenges, or candy, now widely available.
    • A warm cup of fresh decaffeinated ginger tea. This will both help settle your stomach and keep you hydrated. You can sip it slowly over the course of your travels. You can bring it with you if you are traveling by car or by boat. If you are traveling by plane, you may need to bring freshly sliced ginger and then ask for a cup of hot water on the plane. Airports generally do not permit you to carry liquids on board.
    • Ginger soda. You can bring ginger soda or ginger ale with you on a boat or in the car. If you are traveling by plane, check to see if you can purchase it in the airport cafes where drinks are often sold after people have gone through security.
    • Ginger cookies or breads. These are always tasty snacks.
    • Ginger supplements. Contact your doctor or the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the dosage that would be right for you.
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    Use over-the-counter antihistamine medications. If you will also be driving, however, you should not take these medications because they may cause you to be too drowsy to drive. Follow the instructions on the packaging. Consult your doctor before taking them if you are pregnant, nursing, taking other medications, or treating a child. Possible medications to try are:[14]
    • Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine, Gravol)
    • Meclizine (Antivert)
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    Ask your doctor for a prescription medications. If you have severe motion sickness and are planning a cross country car trip, a transoceanic boat trip, or several days of air travel, you may need medicine to manage your motion sickness. As with all medications, tell your doctor if you are pregnant, nursing, or on other medications. [15][16]
    • Your doctor may prescribe a scopolamine or hyoscine adhesive patch (Transderm Scop). This treatment may not be possible for people with asthma, glaucoma, urine retention, epilepsy, heart, kidney, or liver problems.
    • However, scopolamine has no effect on people under the age of 12.
    • If this medication is available over-the-counter, consult a doctor before treating a child or an elderly person.
    • The patch is generally worn behind the ear. It is usually effective for about 72 hours. Side effects include sleepiness, dizziness, and blurred vision.


  • People with migraines are more prone to motion sickness. If you get migraines, you may want to take proactive measures prior to extended travel.

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Categories: Travel Health