10 Smart Tricks to Avoid Getting Sick on Long Flights

Updated: Mar. 06, 2024

Make for smooth travel with these suggestions to keep your stomach calm for the whole flight.

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Eat a good meal before flying

It’s extremely important to eat a good meal before you fly. Getting on a plane with an empty stomach is guaranteed to make you feel nauseous. However, it’s important to watch what you eat. Stay away from greasy, spicy, and salty foods as well as alcohol. Eat a smaller, yet filling, meal that includes things like eggs and whole-wheat toast. Make sure that you aren’t making these other mistakes when traveling on an airplane.


Imagine yourself traveling

Airsickness is often caused by a fear of flying. Self-guided meditation before you board your plane or even before you get to the airport can allow you to feel calm the whole time you are traveling. Feeling calm will help to keep your stomach settled. “Take some time even a day or two before the flight and guide yourself through an imagined flight from check-in through getting off the plane,” says Ari Hoffman, MA, LPC. “By doing this you are setting a template for flying in your mind and therefore your experience of the flight will follow the template you have established.” These are things you’re pilot won’t tell you.


Reassure yourself that you are okay

If you are already on the plane and your anxiety is causing you to feel nauseous, reassuring yourself that you’re okay can help to calm you down. “First, lean the seat as far back as it will go. Then take relaxing breaths. Notice, I didn’t say deep breaths, you don’t want to hyperventilate. Relaxing breaths are a normal inhale and long exhale. Research shows that breathing like this sends your body and brain the message that you are okay,” says Hoffman. After you’ve calmed down, try taking a nap.

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Stay cool

Wear layers so that you can take them off if you’re feeling nauseous. Keeping yourself cool will help with your motion sickness. Also, keep your overhead fan on; it will keep the air moving around you. Always follow these etiquette rules when flying.

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Suck on ginger or peppermint

Ginger and peppermint both help to settle your stomach and make you feel less nauseous. Ginger or peppermint candies are great to suck on while you’re flying; they taste great and will keep your stomach calm. Or, ask the flight attendant for a ginger ale when the drink cart comes around. This is the reason why you always crave ginger ale on planes.

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Acupressure is an easy thing you can do on your flight to help settle your stomach. “Simply apply a little pressure with your thumb and forefinger to the inside of your wrist at the “Nei-Kuan” point, which is almost dead center of your wrist, just below where your wrist meets your hand. Put pressure there for about 5-10 minutes at a time for as long as you need to feel relief,” shares Faisal Tawwab, MD.

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Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Make sure to drink lots of water before you board, while you are on the plane, and after you land. It will help to keep you from getting dehydrated and feeling nauseous. Make an effort to stay away from coffee and carbonated drinks, which can cause dehydration. If you can’t resist the ginger ale (since it settles your stomach), try drinking one cup of water for every cup of soda you drink. Try these clever ways to get more fluids.

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Keep your eye on the horizon

“While it’s not clear to researchers why this works it may be connected to the anxiety or loss of control factor,” says Hoffman. “When I can base my movement on something that is stable like the horizon I feel like I have a better idea of what my body is doing relative to the ground and that makes me less anxious.” This method is similar to keeping your eye on the horizon when you feel seasick. Looking at something that is constantly still while you are in motion can help make you feel less nauseous.

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Chose a window seat

If you want to keep your eye on the horizon, it’s always best to choose a window seat. But looking at the clouds the whole time has other benefits too. Motion sickness is caused when the inner ear feels motion but the eyes don’t see motion, therefore sending conflicting signals to the brain. When you look out the window and your eyes are able to see movement you are less likely to feel nauseous and dizzy. It can also be helpful to sit above a wing of the plane or near the front, you’ll feel less motion in those spots. Read up on this airplane trivia that you have probably always wanted the answer to.


Don’t read

Starring at a stationary page of a book while your body is in motion can cause you to feel nauseous. Even if the chapter you just finished ended with a cliffhanger, try to keep the book closed. Your stomach will thank you for it. This is what traveling on a plane does to your body.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest