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How to Handle Car Sickness on a Road Trip

Our family loves taking road trips. The best part of our summer is packing up the car and hitting the open road as we head to Walt Disney World. Road trips can be a special time for families and an opportunity to create memories along the way.

However, if one (or more) of your passengers experiences car sickness, it can put a major damper on your family’s adventure. Here are some tips to help take a road trip with a car sick passenger.

I am a long time car sickness sufferer. Many a family road trip as a kid was spent feeling nauseous in the back of the car or having to “stop” on the side of the road. Over the years, I have learned some tips and tricks to deal with my motion sickness. Unfortunately, our daughter has inherited my queasiness. Recently on long car rides she’s been complaining of feeling car sick. Now not only do we have to make sure our car is well packed for our upcoming road trip, we also have to have a plan in place in the off chance she might not feel so well along the way.

If your family is like ours and you have one or more family members that can get car sick, rest assured, there are some things you can do. Here are some suggestions.


Preferential Seating

Whenever possible have the passenger sit in the front seat. This works well for me as an adult, but not so well with kids. Since kids have to sit in the back, make sure they are the furthest to the front as possible. They should avoid looking backward while the car is in motion. Also, make sure they are seated by a window and not in the middle of the row.

Provide Ventilation

Make sure your passenger has access to a window during the ride. A few whiffs of fresh air can really help. Also regulate the temperature to make sure your passenger doesn’t get too hot. You could also bring along a battery operated fan.

Limit Meals Before Travel

Avoid greasy foods and milk based products before traveling. Both of those types of foods can turn a stomach on a dime at the first sign of car sickness. Consider traveling on an empty stomach or eating some dry toast beforehand if you need to eat.


Have Snacks on Hand

Should your passenger feel a queasy, make sure to have some snacks to coat the stomach. Crackers, green apples, seltzer or small cans of ginger ale are good to have on hand. I have found that licorice such as Twizzlers are a good stomach soother. You can also buy flavored lollipops that help with queasiness.


Make the Car Comfy

Bring some comforts from home along for the ride. Pillows, blankets or a favorite stuffed animal can make a car sick passenger feel at ease. To this day, I always travel with my pillow. If and when the moment of nausea arises, a good nap can help as well.

Offer Distractions

Have some things in the car that can provide a good distraction. Movies or music are a good suggestion. However, reading is not a good idea. That is one of my triggers. Books on tape can be a great alternative.

Stop if you need to

While you may want to get to your destination as quickly as possible, it’s a good idea to stop every once and a while to stretch your legs. Time out of the car can help settle the stomach.


Give Medication

If you or your child’s car sickness cannot be soothed by any of the above mentioned remedies, medication can be taken. Over the counter medications such as Dramamine, Bonine or Antivert can be taken. You can also go the non medicinal route and use Sea Bands (these have worked for me on bus trips and on cruises).


Bring a “Car Sick” Kit (just in case)

If all else fails, have a kit on hand that can help you clean up an unfortunate protein spill. Things in your kit can include:


  • small plastic bags or a bucket ~ for the spill (you could also line the bucket with a bag ahead of time
  • large garbage bags ~ for anything that got in the way
  • wipes ~ to clean up hand and face
  • hand sanitizer ~ to wash hands
  • water bottle ~ to rinse out anything

Should the unfortunate happen, have Gatorade or some water bottles on hand to re-hydrate the passenger. Take some time to clean up and give the person time before heading back in the car.

Hopefully with some of these tips and tricks, you’ll be on your way to a smooth and drama free road trip!

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7 Tips for Surviving a Road Trip with Kids | Adventures in Familyhood

Thursday 10th of August 2017

[…] one hand you want and need your family to be hydrated. Dehydration could cause headaches and even car sickness. But on the other hand, the more they drink the more they have to go. Which leads me to my next […]

Anonymous Woman

Wednesday 19th of July 2017

Thank you for your article. I've found morning sickness with pregnancy to be the exact same feeling except it's 24hrs/day & almost the entire 40 weeks. I did notice that something sweet, drinking cold water or a hot tea would take the uncontrollable feeling of needing to "get sick". All of your suggestions are great but I'm happy to hear about Twizzlers! I found chewing mint gum all day long to help too.

Lisa Cameron

Wednesday 19th of July 2017

I am so happy you found this helpful! I completely understand about morning sickness. I had it bad with both of my kids and many of these tricks helped as well. Thanks for stopping by!

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