Cures for those times when your travels ail you

Experts share solutions for jet lag, motion sickness, food poisoning, and other travel maladies

By Alisha Prakash

Traveling the world comes with plenty of unexpected, unplanned moments: stumbling upon undiscovered gems, striking up conversations with new friends, and encountering spontaneous events on the streets.

Of course, this also means there’s a potential for unpleasant surprises, like food poisoning, motion sickness, and never-ending jet lag.

But don’t let the unknown deter you from packing your bags. To help conquer the worst of your travel woes, we turned to experts for their tried-and-tested solutions for a number of travel-related maladies.

After all, with a limited number of vacation days, it’s important to make every second of your paid-time-off count.


Pepto Bismol

“After getting food poisoning while traveling solo in Mexico, I’ve learned from my errors and now take a couple of preventative measures for every trip. I try to take a probiotic pill every day, but I especially make sure to do so for at least two weeks before an international trip and during my travels. Having a healthy gut with lots of good bacteria is important for staving off contaminated food- and water-induced sicknesses. Additionally, I always have Pepto-Bismol chewable tablets on hand if my stomach starts acting up. If I’m traveling somewhere I know generally upsets my stomach, I’ll take at least one each day preemptively. I’ve since traveled to Mexico, Thailand, and the Dominican Republic without incident, so it seems to be working.” —Lara Grant, Editor at


Life saver mints

“My raging motion sickness —by car, air, boat, or even inflatable banana —has threatened to keep me grounded, which isn’t an option when my day job is ‘travel editor.’ My solution has been pretty low-key: mints, and lots of ‘em! I’ve read that peppermint oil is scientifically proven to reduce nausea, but I don’t need peer-reviewed studies for proof because I’ve road-tested my mints on just about every trip (not to mention countless movies that use shaky hand-held cameras). Schmancy mints aren’t required. I stock up on the O.G. mints: peppermint Life Savers. So, when it comes to leaving the house on a trip, my last-minute check becomes wallet, passport, keys, Life Savers.” —Maria Teresa Hart, Executive Editor at What to Pack

Peace of Mind

“Although I don’t let it stop me from traveling a ton, I often get nauseous on airplanes and in taxis. I usually have Origins Peace of Mind in my purse, which is like a tiny bit of fresh air. It’s basically peppermint oil and it serves as a refreshing distraction when I apply it to my wrists and temples. I used it just this week on a 24-hour travel day from Cairo to New York City.” —Laura Hinely, Senior Photo Editor at

Gin Gins

“It doesn’t matter how many passport stamps I accumulate, I will never win the battle against motion sickness —that is, unless I come armed with one very powerful weapon: Gin Gins. It’s fairly common knowledge that ginger packs in plenty of anti-nausea benefits, but a round of in-flight Ginger Ale doesn’t cut it for me —the fizzy beverage contains almost none of the real stuff. Gin Gins are made with real ginger, have no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives, and stave off everything from nausea to migraines. Bonus: Gin Gins can also combat digestive issues, allowing me to indulge in that hearty authentic meal and always settling the score to tummy troubles: 0, Alisha: 1.” —Alisha Prakash, Senior Editor at


Relaxation tea

“Unfortunately, I’ve been stuck in the dreaded middle seat on a red-eye flight more times than I can count. Fortunately, my latest and greatest trick for getting some shut-eye in less-than-ideal airplane seat conditions is cheap, doesn’t require a prescription, and comes in tea bag form. Traditional Medicinals Nighty Night Tea to the rescue. The secret ingredient? Valerian. It’s a perennial flowering plant known for its all-natural sleep-aiding properties, and it can help with anxiety if turbulence makes you nervous. Just carry on a tea bag, ask the flight attendant for hot water, and get some much-needed rest.” —Megan Wood, Editor at What to Pack

Cocktail kit

“Flying and I simply do not get along. No matter how near or far, my anxiety in the air is always through the roof. Recently I’ve been helping myself while 30,000 feet up the old-fashioned way —with an Old Fashioned. A carry-on cocktail kit is an essential item when it comes to having a decent time on a flight. It calms my nerves, and I’m more than willing to splurge on an airplane bottle or two (if I don’t sneak on my own, shhh).” —Tyler Schoeber, Production Specialist at SmarterTravel


Sleep collagen shot

“I’m horrible at sleeping on planes, so I always get struck down by equally horrible jet lag. I’ve tried all manner of natural, drugstore, and prescription sleep and anxiety aids for flying, so that I can arrive at least somewhat well-rested. However, I’ve found exactly one product that works for me: Vital Proteins Sleep shots. This thing is the magic bullet. The two-ounce bottle is filled with sleep-producing melatonin, magnesium, and GABA, plus hydrating hyaluronic acid to help my skin stay healthy in the bone-dry cabin. The lavender and blueberry taste isn’t for everyone, but it’s a heck of a lot better than valerian.” —Anne Olivia Bauso, Editor at What to Pack

“The easiest way to beat jet lag is to consider the timing of your flights, if you can be flexible. If you’re going nonstop to Asia, for example, look for a flight that leaves really early in the morning and lands sometime in the evening. Try to stay awake as much as possible on the flight, as this will have you landing at the time of day when your body would naturally be winding down. If you’re heading to Europe or the Middle East, it’s best to fly in the evening — the later the better from the East Coast hubs. This allows you to board the plane when your body is fatigued, and increases the likelihood that you’ll fall asleep for the majority of the flight, putting you on the ground when you’d naturally be waking up (or close to it).” —Kyle Valenta, Executive Editor at

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