Treating Carsickness on a Family Road Trip

by Matt Villano

Treating Carsickness on a Family Road Trip

Our toddler has started getting car sick, which means family road trips suddenly have become a bit of a struggle. Here are some of the ways we’ve coped (so far).

As the father of an opinionated and verbal 3.5-year-old, I’ve become accustomed to (sometimes whiny) back-seat requests on family road trips.

Usually, L’s demands pertain to music choices—Taylor Swift and Carly Rae Jepsen over (my go-to choices,) Martin Sexton and The Killers. Lately, however, the requests have been different; even when I’m driving 10 or 15 miles per hour, the kid wants me to slow down.

On a recent daytrip to a trail in the neighboring county, it hit me: L has started getting car sick.

Considering that we’ve got a three-hour road trip next month to rendezvous with two other families for a little holiday get-together, I hit the airwaves to research options for treating her “condition” ASAP. According to a mix of trained experts (i.e., doctors) and seasoned professionals (i.e., other parents), here are some of the options I’ve uncovered and tried.

Frequent stops
A number of sources suggested stopping whenever L says she feels sick, and in limited trials, this strategy has seemed to work pretty well. The problem? Our other daughter is a 13-month-old, meaning that prolonging road trips isn’t exactly the most practical solution.

My wife has used acupressure bands to relieve motion sickness aboard boats, and a number of folks say these products are great way for relieving nausea in the car, too. One brand that multiple sources recommended: Sea-Band. L enjoyed shopping for these, since she was able to choose “bracelets” in a color she wanted (blue). So far, however, it’s been difficult to get a sense of how the bands can help; the kid hasn’t kept them on for more than five minutes at a time.

Soothing the stomach
Contrary to what our parents’ generation believed, an empty stomach is not the best way to treat carsickness; recent studies actually have suggested that a belly full of nothing but natural acids might actually make nausea more acute. The alternative, of course, is to keep something in the toddler’s tummy at all times. To achieve this objective, I’ve turned the center console into a pantry of goldfish crackers, Saltines and other snacks. Has this created a crumb problem in the backseat? Yes. Has it soothed the belly? Not really.

Drugs/Alternative methods
Of course there always are other methods to treat carsickness. We’re not big fans of drugs, but if we were, Dimenhydrinate (aka Dramamine), Prochlorperazine (aka Compro) and Phenergan (aka Promethazine) would be the ones we’d consider (under doctor supervision, of course—especially with the last one). In terms of alternative remedies, it seems that pretty much anything with ginger provides a certain degree of relief. Two specific products by which friends swear: Hyland’s Motion Sickness, which comes in tablet form, and CanTravel, which is gluten-free.

What strategies and/or products do you use to help your kids deal with carsickness on family road trips? Leave a comment and let us know.