The intersection of travel and wellness


5 Methods to Ease Motion Sickness Symptoms with Ginger

Motion sickness: Ruining an otherwise enjoyable day of travel since the beginning of time.

Or for me, at least since about 1992, when I tried reading my first chapter book in the back seat of my parent’s Honda and mere minutes later, gifted them one of the least-enjoyable travel experiences one can have: clean-up duty.

Roughly one in three individuals are susceptible to motion sickness, according to a 2015 study published in Human Molecular Genetics. Data shows that a proclivity to feel nauseous during a variety of motions (traveling in cars, boats or planes, and even riding camels!) is often inherited. Even more interesting, motion sickness can hit women up to three times stronger than it does men.

One natural way I’ve found to combat the annoyance of motion sickness while traveling is using ginger. While it may not be effective for all cases, the use of ginger dates back to traditional Chinese medicine has been shown in some studies to greatly ease symptoms.

On a trip to Australia last December that involved airplane turbulence, boat rides on the ocean and windy roads around the coast, I used five different forms of ginger to keep motion sickness at bay. The results? It might have been a placebo effect, but they were all effective—at least for me. Try 'em yourself and let me know if they work!

The Ginger People Original Ginger Chews

You can pick up a bag of these for $2 at Trader Joe’s. It’s easy to stick a few in your purse or your pocket before traveling. I pack a whole bag or two for longer trips. At 20 calories each, they’re not going to give you a sugar high, but they pack a warm, spicy bite. Even though they’re called “chews,” I recommend sucking on them instead to prolong their effect.

Bundaberg Ginger Beer

Non-alcoholic and brewed in Australia, Bundaberg Ginger Beer was a natural drink to sip on in Australia. I swapped out my morning coffee for a bottle on days where we were driving. It’s also available in the United States at retailers like Binny’s and Cost Plus World Market. The one downside: It’s high in sugar (40 grams in a 375-ml bottle), but it’s a trade-off for not feeling ill.

Ginger Tablets

Quicksilver Cruises, a 300-passenger ship that transports visitors to a diving platform in the Great Barrier Reef, keeps jars of chewable ginger tablets around the cabin. Guides recommended anyone with a proclivity toward motion sickness take one as we departed in the morning and before we returned later in the afternoon. I can’t locate the exact brand they supplied, but these ginger root supplements from Walgreen’s are similar.

Aeseop Ginger Flight Therapy

A very kind travel companion handed me this before we boarded our Virgin Australia flight to Brisbane. The 0.3-ounce bottle ($31) easily slips into your purse or carry-on, and is free of parabens, color additives and animal ingredients. Based on the science of essential oils, it’s designed to be applied to your pulse points (insides of wrists, behind the ear) to minimize motion sickness. 

Buderim Ginger Bears

Of all the ginger remedies I tried, these were the most fun. Since they’re made in Australia, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get them once I returned. But, surprise! These “ginger jubes with bite,” as the company proclaims, are available on Amazon (around $14 for a 7-ounce bag). One 40-gram serving (about six bears) has 100 calories.