/ Motoring

Does car sickness throw up problems when you travel?

Motorway on Bank Holiday

We’re finally starting to see the sun again. And so millions of us will be loading up our cars and heading off for a few days away in the coming weeks. But how long until you hear the dreaded words – ‘I feel sick’?

While you frantically search for a place to pull over, there’s usually the noise of retching followed by the overpowering stench of regurgitated Ribena.

With a sinking heart, you know you’re destined for half an hour in a lay-by changing clothes and mopping up your seat covers with wet-wipes.

Then there’s the unhappy prospect of that lingering odour for the rest of your journey.

Tricks to avoid travel sickness

I’ve been down that road so many times that I actually collect airline sick bags when I’m on flights. I keep a stash of them in my car’s seat pockets so my kids can grab them if the worst occurs. It can mitigate the worst ‘explosive’ effects, but small children aren’t the best at aiming. There’s often some spillage.

And it seems I’m not alone, as a OnePoll survey of 2,000 parents suggests that nearly two-thirds of children suffer from car sickness. To help beat the problem, parents have listed their favourite ways of beating car nausea. Around 58% just open a window (my personal favourite), but a third resort to giving their child anti-sickness medicine.

Getting kids to sit up-front, gaze at the horizon or take part in deep-breathing exercises are also popular. The more wacky suggestions include using acupressure wristbands or, bizarrely, sitting on brown paper. I’m not sure if the latter is a magical way of stopping them from vomiting, or if it’s just designed to aid the clean-up process when the worst happens.

Avoid the vomit monster

For those about to head off on holiday in their cars with small children – I salute you. I wish you the best of luck and hope the vomit-monster gives your car a miss.

What are your car-sickness horror stories? Do have a sure-fire way of helping your kids avoid sickness?

Which methods do you use to beat children's car sickness?

Open the window (20%, 82 Votes)

Get them to avoid looking down/reading (16%, 69 Votes)

Get them to gaze at the horizon (12%, 52 Votes)

Get them to take anti-sickness medicine (10%, 42 Votes)

Get them to sit in a window seat (9%, 37 Votes)

Get them to take deep breaths (8%, 33 Votes)

Get them to take a nap (7%, 30 Votes)

Get them to wear an acupressure wristband (6%, 26 Votes)

Put on music to take attention away from feeling sick (5%, 23 Votes)

Get them to close their eyes (3%, 11 Votes)

Get them to sit in the middle seat (2%, 9 Votes)

Get them to sit on brown paper (1%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 154

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I don’t remember actually being sick, but travel was a traumatic experience throughout my childhood and beyond. What helped most was to stop the car and get out for a break and to travel in the front seat. I cannot read in a car and if asked to act as navigator, following a map is enough to make me feel queasy.

At least most kid will grow out of travel sickness.

gimcrack says:
7 May 2013

I was terribly travel sick as a child – just going on a short journey would be enough to make me vomit. My parents used to tell me to read and would talk to me to ‘take my mind off it’. This is the worst thing you can do. A very helpful doctor who also got travel sick advised them to leave me well alone, to look out the window and sit in the front where possible.

Having a seaside bucket in my lap helped, too. And putting a carrier bag (check for holes first) in it helps with the inevitable clear-up.

As an adult, I still get very nauseous. Sitting in the front helps enormously as I need to gaze at the horizon and see where I’m going. Driving helps, too, though I have been known to make myself feel a bit ill if I don’t take enough care with corners.

I’m afraid I’m a sufferer of car sickness myself, although thankfully, when I’m driving or sitting in the front seat, I am usually fine.

However – map reading, using my phone in the car, or sitting in the back seat are all sure-fire ways of bringing on the sickness. Windy, bumpy roads definitely make things worse too!

For those of you looking into buying a family car and want to avoid rear-seat travel sickness, stadium seating could be the answer. This is available in a selection of MPVs and SUVs, and it means the rear bench is positioned higher than the front seats. This improves a child’s chances of being able to see through the front window, meaning less gazing out of the side window, and ultimately fewer hours spent trying to remove sick from the electric-window switches.

You can find more helpful family car buying tips here: http://www.which.co.uk/cars/choosing-a-car/buying-a-car/family-car-buying-tips/

I think the best thing is to buy a car that is comfortable and has decent suspension. I am now on my seventh Volvo 🙂

The only good solution I’ve found is to slip them a Mickey Finn – or junior Nytol or whatever you choose. I use it myself occasionally. You’ve got the jetlag issue on arrival, but it’s still better than hours of nausea.

When I was a lad my dad fitted a special antistatic device to the car which absolutely prevented car sickness. About ten years later he let me into the secret: there was no such device. Placebo effects are great for car sickness!

I had seven children and regularly travelled 200 miles. We also drove several times to the coast south of Seville. We had cars ranging from Minis to Citroen CX estates with 7 seats. They were never car sick or sea sick, and never had pills to prevent it. We never even mentioned the possibility of car sickness, but did point out things of interest as we drove along. We had some games such as one based on pub signs. My sister in law was with us on one trip and repeatedly asked her children if they felt sick. They did – but not when travelling just with me.
It is all in the mind.

Had travel sickness as a child and as an adult (though less so), and both my children have terrible travel sickness. I do not accept it is all in the mind – they can be asleep, and then within a couple of minutes of waking up, throw up. We always play games/talk with them, and always have since they were little – singing nursery rhymes/pointing things out etc – they still got sick. They don’t even make a fuss about it anymore as it’s happened so often. It also does prevent them doing some things they want to do – for example really limits how many rides they go on at an adventure park as they start to feel unwell and don’t want to go on anymore after a couple of rides. We have proper travel sick bags in the car as they have an absorbent sheet which makes it much easier to stop it running everywhere and the pull-string limits the smell too.

So the things that help (but don’t always prevent) are:
Reading etc is a complete no-no and a guarantee to cause sickness.
When they (or I) feel sick, the last thing we want is music/radio.
Looking forwards rather than back/sideways
Wearing sunglasses or keeping things darker in the back (window blinds or keeping eyes closed) – even in winter
Windows open/fresh air
Driving move slowly round bends/over bumps – least sideways or up and down movement the better (think of rollercoasters!) – think this is also why they are ok on trains even if looking our of windows sideways
Not eating anything liquidy/not eating too much in hour or so before a journey – some stodgy food like bread seems to help
Only SIPS of water if thirsty (and also after being sick)

They do usually feel sick, but now do not throw up so often, and USUALLY when they are actually physically sick we can pinpoint it to one of the above happening/not happening (more often than not, having had a bigger drink/’wetter’ food or reading/looking at phones (problem with older children).