If you’re a person who is prone to motion sickness, road trips can be hell on the stomach. And if it’s your kids who have trouble, you’re going to spend a good chunk of the trip wondering if you really need to pull over. Here are a few tips for what to do when that wave of nausea begins to roll.
Look out the front windshield
When I was a kid, my parents would always tell me to look out the window, but that always made carsickness worse. Looking out the front windshield is much better: The way you feel yourself moving matches the way you see yourself moving. That’s why carsickness is often worse in the back seat. Kids shouldn’t sit in the front until they’re 13 or so, but sometimes you can do the seating arrangements in a way that the carsick kid gets the best view of the road ahead. If that’s not possible, the next best thing is to have them close their eyes.
If you’re an adult prone to motion sickness, try to sit shotgun. Or, better yet, volunteer to drive.
Get some fresh air
Cool air can help relieve some of the gross feelings that come with being carsick. Scientists don’t fully understand why, but we do know that when we feel nauseous, our bodies actually try to cool us down. That’s why we sometimes feel hot and flushed, and we sweat. A cool breeze pointed at your face can help to make you more comfortable, so it could be a good time to crack open a window or make use of the air conditioning.
The symptoms of nausea are physical, but they’re controlled by our brain. After all, we’re not being poisoned and we don’t have a stomach bug (well, hopefully not). Listening to music can help distract us from the conflicting visual and motion sensations. So can playing games—but not video games or crossword puzzles that you would have to look at. Now is a good time to look out the front windshield and start a game of Twenty Questions or that “A my name is Alice…” rhyme—no matter how old you are.
Plan for the worst
Being sick in a car (or, worse, public transport) is just multiple layers of suffering. You feel gross, but you also probably aren’t stopping anytime soon, and what happens if you do throw up? If you know that you (or your kid) are prone to motion sickness, make sure to pack some kind of bag or container that you could barf into. Sometimes, just knowing that it’s there is enough to make you not need it.