Having someone get car sick on a road trip is the worst so these car sick remedies will have you handling your baby, toddler or yourself getting car sick with ease instead of freaking out about puke everywhere.
The car was packed. We were on our way to visit family in a neighboring state. And then it happened. Our daughter got car sick and threw up all over herself. And we weren’t prepared for it. But, we were too far gone to turn back and go home and yet still so far away from our destination, so we did our best to clean her up and clean up our car.
Whether or not it was truly car motion sickness or simply a stomach bug while traveling, we are not sure.
What we are sure of is that we were not prepared to handle the puke on a road trip.
Since this first experience dealing with a puking toddler during a road trip, we’ve tried to be wise about a few things in regards to preparing for the inevital puking. Because, I swear, a road trip isn’t a road trip without someone getting sick during it!
And no, sometimes it isn’t the kids who are puking, but the adults.
I did not know why you get car sick until I began looking into this recently as we went on several multiple-week road trips this summer with five kids. I also wasn’t sure the best car sick remedies, especially for babies and toddlers.
I wanted to share what I found out so that on your next road trip, you and all your kids can handle being car sick like it is no big deal, and clean up any incidental sickness along the way with ease…. or with less “AH! I HATE MY LIFE” thoughts.
What Does “Car Sick” mean?
First, let’s define the beast, shall we?
One definition is that when you feel “car sick” you are “affected with nausea caused by the motion of a car or other vehicle in which one is traveling.”
Basically, car sickness is motion sickness in a car. I usually assume when says this, they usually mean that the motion sickness caused nausea to the point of vomiting, but that isn’t always the case.
Why Do You Get Car Sick?
Another common question is “What makes you car sick?”
Our brain is often getting mixed signals when we travel in a car (or plane or boat) as we are sitting stationary in a vehicle yet seeing the world go flying past. It’s screwing up your inner ear.
According to Science Alert, “recent research has found that car sickness could be the result of your brain responding to what it thinks is a sudden bout of poisoning.” The easiest way for your brain and body to respond to this thought is by throwing up so as to get rid of the poison.
Also, a 2013 study found people who had more “body sway” – people who naturally moved their body more often, even when stationary – were more apt to get seasick. This means you might just have a more natural tendency to get motion sickness based on genes and everyday life.
Getting car sick is very common and occurs in around 25-40% of people and is very hereditary and more common for women and young children over 2. If one parent is susceptible to getting motion sickness, half of their children will likely get car sick.
Car Sick Symptoms
If you want to know if you are experiencing car sickness, then ask yourself if you are experiencing any of these car sickness symptoms:
- short breath
- mild unease or malaise
How Long Does Car Sickness Last?
All symptoms of motion sickness should stop within four hours of getting out of the moving vehicle.
The good news is that children usually only vomit once when experiencing motion sickness. (source)
How to Avoid Getting Car Sick
If you want to know how to not be car sick, there are several things recommended that you can do to limit and relieve those feelings of queasiness and to stop carsickness:
- Sit so that your eyes can see that you are moving
- Sit in the front seat if over 12 (if under 12, sit in the middle back seat)
- Look forward, out the front window, not the side windows, and look into the distance/horizon
- Avoid reading
- Avoid watching movies or playing on tablets
- Avoid sitting in a rear facing seat
- Listen to your favorite music
- Eat a light meal high in protein before the trip
- Avoid strong fragrances, smells, and odors
- Avoid exhaust fumes from other vehicles
- Don’t eat greasy or spicy foods immediately before and during your road trip
- Roll down the windows for fresh air
- Keep eyes closed and nap
- Chew on something – gum, any type of snack (especially if high in protein), etc
- Eat/drink ginger
- Use acupressure bands (see recommendations below)
- Apply cool compresses or gel packs to your forehead
Car Sick Remedies
Okay, but if you try to do those things, and you still get motion sickness or car sickness (or your kid does who’s not so great at communication yet) then there are some great car sick remedies out there. They mainly consist of car sick pills, bracelets, bands, medicine, straps, and other natural remedies that are said to prevent or stop car sickness from happening. These can be a welcome relief for those who are otherwise miserable during travel!
Natural Remedies for Motion Sickness:
- KONGDY Motion Sickness Patch for kids and adults (lasts for 72 hours!)
- Hyland’s Motion Sickness Tablets
- ProVent Motion Sickness Natural Relief Roll-On Oil
- JoySpring Organic Ginger Drops for Kids
- Hana Tonic Anti Nausea Ginger Shot
- Dizzy Stop Motion Sickness Capsules
- Motioneaze Topical Oil Blend
Car Sick Bracelets and Bands
- Sea-Band Adult Wristband
- Reliefband Neuromodulation Band
- NoMo Nausea Instant Relief Aromatherapy Acupressure Bands
- EmeTerm Antiemetic Electrode Wrist Band Bracelet
- MotionCure Neckband
- Car Sickness Strap
The great thing about the natural car sick remedies is that many are safe and effective for children as young as two or four years old. They also don’t bring many if any side effects!
Some other things that help with car sickness: Car Sickness Medicine
If natural remedies don’t work, you can go for motion sickness medicine. You have to read the labels to make sure they can be taken by younger children or pregnant women.
- Bonine Chewable Tablets (24 Hour Protection)
- ZenTrip Motion Sickness Relief Strips
- Dramamine Motion Sickness Tablets
How to Handle Car Sickness on Road Trips
Okay, but if car sick remedies don’t work, and you aren’t having luck preventing car sickness otherwise, or you forgot to pack or do those things, you might be wondering “what to do when you get car sick?”
If you are in the early stages of motion sickness, try to take some of the preventative measures mentioned above to help relieve it.
But, if they get worse and the person feels sick, if you can, pull over for the person who is car sick to throw up on the side of the road and keep the vomit and vomit smell out of the car. Otherwise, find some empty container, trash bag, or bucket to throw up in inside the car and then dispose of in the nearest trash can or on the side of the road. Make sure they don’t have any holes in the bottom of them.
Usually people start to feel better after they throw up, so there is a plus side to it, I guess.
Car Sickness in Kids: What to do when a toddler or Baby Gets Car Sick
It is so very helpful to have some other items on hand to help clean up car sickness. This is especially true if you are dealing with a toddler or baby who gets car sick.
If you think one of your children is prone to getting car sick, keep the following on hand in your car:
- Car Sick Bags
- Car Sick Bib
- Large Empty Ice Cream Bucket
- Hand Sanitizer
- Hand and Face Portable Wipes
- Car Garbage Can
- Carpet and Upholstery Scrub Brush
- Carpet Spot and Stain Remover
- Ziploc Gallon Bags (for holding puke or messy clothes)
- A Case of Water (to rinse everything down)
- Paper Towels (great for scooping, blotting, and drying)
- Change of Clothes (and diapers if applicable)
Babies can get car sick and so can toddlers. Unfortunately. And they cannot tell you they feel well and you often don’t know until it is too late.
It has been my (unpleasant) experience that they will sometimes make weird throat noises and coughs before throwing up, so if you hear that and they aren’t eating well or are acting a bit different, have a vomit catcher at the ready and all of the above listed supplies if possible (especially something like that bib!).
Cleaning car seats, especially on the side of the road, is a royal pain in the butt and so gross. I am sorry if you ever have to deal with it! But, I hope that you won’t but that if you do, you’ll prepared a little bit more thanks to this article!
If you have any other helpful tips for handling car sickness in kids while on a big family road trip or even for dealing with motion sickness otherwise in kids (and adults) I’d love to hear them in the comments below!
For more great road trip and travel posts, check out the following:
- Best Audiobooks for Family Road Trips
- Free Printable Road Trip Car Checklist
- Free Family Vacation Packing Checklist
- 10 Things for Beach Day Trip with Kids
- Family Road Trip Food and Drink Ideas
- Pre-Vacation Household Checklist
- 6 Tips for Taking Road Trips with Kids
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