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If You Get Seasick, Use These 6 Tricks for Smooth Sailing, Experts Say

Think you can't take a cruise or boat ride? Think again. Avoiding seasickness is possible with these tips.

As summer approaches and the Alaska cruise season begins, seafarers of all experience levels will be setting sail for faraway destinations. Whether your journey takes you into the North Pacific or you prefer to coast along the Caribbean in a smaller vessel, everyone faces the same daunting possibility of encountering rough sea days.

The Celebrity Cruises blog defines seasickness as "motion sickness that results when what your eye sees is out of balance with what your inner ear senses. If your body feels motion but your eye doesn't see it, your senses become confused and can cause symptoms like dizziness, nausea, headaches, and tiredness."

Most travelers can tolerate a headache or sleepiness, but no one likes a vacation ruined by dizziness and nausea. Even experienced cruisers can be surprised by temperamental weather interacting with large bodies of water. Yet there are ways to avoid seasickness… or, at the very least, make the symptoms more manageable. Read on to discover expert tips for avoiding motion sickness at sea. And next, don't miss The 10 Best Places to Travel Internationally This Spring.

Stateroom location is everything.

Made Bed in Cruise Ship Cabin
Kittisak Sirichunsuwan/Shutterstock

Before even boarding your cruise, it's smart to consider whether you are prone to seasickness and, if so, to factor this in when selecting your stateroom. A mid-ship cabin will feel the least resistance on rough sea days, so aim to centralize your experience.

The Mayo Clinic says ship passengers should "request a cabin in the front or middle of the ship near the water level" to anticipate the least amount of motion. When sailing on a smaller vessel, stay as close to the middle of the boat as possible.

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Find a stable focal point.

Person standing at boat rail
Katarina S./Shutterstock

Seafarers have long suggested a simple trick for avoiding motion sickness. "Look at the horizon," says Djamel Benatmane, General Manager aboard Norwegian Bliss. "The horizon is always there."

Even as the ship or boat rocks with the waves, adopting the horizon as your primary focal point can help keep your balance in check. That's because "most seasickness is attributed to a disconnect between your senses and your physical movement," according to the Carnival Cruise Line travel blog, Away We Go. If you find looking outside too much to bear, focus on another static object, like a table.

Consider what you eat.

cruise buffet fried food

When sailing rough waters, the last thing you want is to regret your last meal. Prepare for the worst when planning your meals and stick to "a gentle diet for a few hours," says Dr. Kimberly Fraser, a Canadian who winters part of each year in the Caribbean. Fraser suggests the BRAT diet–bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast–may keep tummy troubles at bay during rough sea days.

The Mayo Clinic backs the idea of keeping a simple diet when experiencing motion sickness, noting that "some people find that nibbling on plain crackers and sipping cold water or a carbonated drink without caffeine help." Many cruisers swear by ginger ale for the satisfying combination of carbonation and soothing ginger.

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Things You Should Never Bring on a Cruise.

Don't fight the motion of the ocean.

Carnival Cruise Ship in the Ocean

Dr. Fraser also suggests sea goers try to find the ocean's rhythm when at sea. While this tactic may not work for everyone, it makes sense to work with the movement of the sea. Walk or "stand in a way that you roll with the motion of the boat rather than against it," Fraser says.

Medicate before symptoms set in.

dramamine motion sickness medication

Those prone to motion sickness may have Dramamine already on their packing list, but it's worth noting such over-the-counter drugs work best when taken before symptoms arise. Check the weather forecast each day of your sailing and note when to expect rougher waves. That's your cue to take a precautionary dose.

The same can be said for Sea-Band, a motion sickness wristband travelers wear to stimulate acupressure points. "This light pressure provides you with a sense of balance, which alleviates and helps prevent the effects of seasickness," states travel insurance resource,

Try the coast guard cocktail.

Standing in the store pharmacy, the unrecognizable woman holds over the counter medicine as she tries to make a decision.

Robin Eschler of Waterfall Resort, an ocean fishing resort in Alaska, says "we always let our guests know about The Coast Guard Cocktail. It works." That's because this particular remedy doesn't come from a bar. Rather, it's a tried-and-true mix of prescriptions.

"The cocktail is a combination of 25mg of promethazine, which has effective anti-motion-sickness and sedative properties, and 25mg of ephedrine, that acts as a stimulus," explains Whitney King, of Colby At Sea. Each of the components are available by prescription, so cruisers should plan ahead for this pharmaceutical combination.

For more travel news, check out The 8 Best Airport Hacks Every Expert Traveler Knows.

Lori A. May
Lori A. May lives out her suitcase most of the year and her articles have been published in Best Life, Business Insider, Houston Chronicle, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Time Out. Read more
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