How to Prepare for Unexpected Car Sickness

Woman Sitting In Car
?Kevin Erdvig on Unsplash

Car Sickness.

Sitting in the middle seat helps reduce car sickness. ? Shannon Entin

No kid too old, no distance too short!

My 11-year-old daughter had never experienced car sickness. In fact, she’d only vomited about three times in her entire life. So when she recently got car sick, I was caught completely off-guard. As was she. My incredulous reaction mirrored the shock and fear in her eyes.

Even if your kids don’t have a problem with car sickness now, there may come a time when they – or someone else in your car – will. I learned a valuable lesson that day about being prepared for messy situations in the car. And by messy, I mean messy way beyond cleanup with the wipes in the glove box.

Sure, I always packed extra clothes and clean-up supplies when I had babies. But my kids are 11 and 17 now. And I always travel with an emergency kit in the trunk. But I didn’t think extra towels and plastic bags were necessary for an hour-long drive. I was ill-prepared for the reality of a pre-teen trying desperately to get her head out a half-opened window while spewing up breakfast by the gallon.

Car sickness is simply a form of motion sickness that occurs when the eyes don’t see the movement that the body feels. Conflicting messages get sent to the brain, resulting in nausea or vomiting. Once you are in motion and are feeling ill, it’s difficult to negate the feeling until the motion stops.

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Prepare for Car Sickness

So you’ve never had any experience with car sick kids? Lucky! But here’s a list of things you could keep in your car in case your luck runs out:

  • Towels. I had one towel in my trunk and I used it to immediately clean the mess off the door and floor of the car. I could have used two more towels – one to clean off my kid and one for her to sit on after the mess had been cleaned up.
  • Washcloth and extra water. Water is probably already on your list of “emergency” items to keep in the car, but a washcloth would have been really helpful to clean up after our incident. And it doesn’t take up too much space.
  • Wipes. Antibacterial wipes are my top pick because they tend to be a bit stronger than baby wipes and the fresh scent is a bonus. We stopped at a grocery store nearby to grab some and scrubbed the car as best we could.
  • Plastic bags. To put the dirty towels and clothing. You can tie the handles up tight to minimize smell until you get home.
  • Extra clothes. It may seem like a stretch to bring an extra set of clothes for older kids, but I now keep a few extra T-shirts in the trunk that can fit anyone in the family. At least I won’t have to stop and buy new clothing or deal with a smelly, stained shirt if it ever happens again.
 Car Sickness.

Get your car ready for anything! Credit: Shannon Entin for AGirlsGuidetoCars

How to Combat Car Sickness

If your kids are prone to motion sickness, encourage them to follow these tips:

  • Sit in the middle of the back seat. Look out the front window, not the sides, and focus on the horizon.
  • Don’t read, watch a movie, or focus on anything still. Put away the electronics and keep your head up.
  • Try a motion sickness remedy such as Dramamine or Bonine. For a natural alternative – or even a placebo effect – try Sea Bands, which use accupressure to combat nausea.
  • Rub a drop of peppermint essential oil on the wrists before getting in the car.
  • Ginger is widely acclaimed for its anti-nausea properties. Chew a thin slice of ginger before your trip, take capsules or chewable tablets, or make a fresh ginger tea.

Whether your child has been car sick in the past, or never has, I’ve learned that “be prepared” is a good motto! In my daughter’s case, she had only been sick to her stomach a few times in her life. She didn’t recognize the feeling of nausea before getting sick. She told me later that it scared her and I felt terrible for not being more sympathetic – I was so shocked and worried about cleaning up!

So add car sickness to your list of things to prepare for in the car. It can happen anytime, at any age.

Feeling most at home when on the road, Shannon Entin grew up under the impression that the highest form... More about Shannon Entin