Traveling with Kids – Motion Sickness

Did you know that one third of all people suffer from at least one form of motion sickness? Unfortunately, our youngest, Oscar, is one of the many. Motion sickness rears it’s ugly head during a variety of travel experiences, cars, trains, planes and especially boats. Astonishingly though, sometimes you don’t even need to be moving. As film and gaming experiences get even more ‘real’, many people are now feeling that familiar wave of nausea in movie theaters and even on their own couch!

Motion Sickness

We didn’t actually realise that Oscar suffered from motion sickness in the car until we were on our third road trip to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, a mere 24 hour drive away! We had done the trip with Oscar a couple of times before, so the first frantic search for a vomit bag in the car, (after less than an hour on the road), made me initially think that he was suffering from a tummy bug. This had me extremely concerned as he steadily vomited (sorry lot’s of vomit in this post) his way to Mildura on the South Australian / Victorian border. There were four of us sharing a small space, (my fear of germ spreading went into hyper-drive!). Also, we were on our way to our friends house, to spend Christmas with them, (and their extended family) in just a couple of days. The unwritten law of mothering etiquette definitely frowns upon knowingly sharing gastro germs with another mother’s children!! But, I digress…

When we stopped in Mildura, (3 1/2 hours later) I ran into the local pharmacy for a supply of vomit bags, and children’s electrolyte supplement drinks. The sales staff suggested that maybe he was suffering from car-sickness and also sold me a box of children’s natural remedy travel sickness lolly-pops. Travel sickness? No way! We’ve done this trip before…

Poor little Oscar steadily emptied the contents of his stomach again and again into the bags over 14 hours, all the way to Dubbo in New South Wales, where we’d planned to spend the night. My little trooper still manged a smile, and he didn’t miss the bag, not even once! When we arrived things got really interesting. Oscar got out of the car, heartily gobbled up his dinner, and bounced around the room like any normal, healthy, 5 year old boy would do after being stuck in the car all day. Where had the tummy bug gone??

The next morning, thinking we’d dodged a bullet, four healthy family members piled into the car to begin the second leg (10 hours) of our journey. But alas, 30 minutes on the road, and Oscar was bringing up his breakfast into a bag. And that’s when it hit us, he was suffering motion sickness! But what had changed? We’d done this trip before, and he was used to long car trips, (this is Australia for goodness sake!). Suddenly Simon pulled off the road. Ah-ha! He exclaimed.

In the week leading up to our trip, Adelaide had been experiencing very high temperatures, and the forecast for departure day was over 40C. To keep the kids cool in the back of the car, Simon has installed ‘Window Sock’ shades over the windows on the back doors. He was now dancing about excitedly on the side of the road, removing the shade from Oscar’s window. We continued on our merry way toward Queensland. With a clear view of the horizon through the window, Oscar managed to keep all of his meals down where they belonged. But, Simon and I felt like the worst parents in the world! We’d lost count of how many times Oscar had unnecessarily puked into a bag.

Keeping the horizon in sight works for Oscar, but there are other tips for motion sickness sufferers as well…

  • Watch what you eat before the trip, keep meals light and avoid heavy, rich foods
  • Avoid strong food odours, (no egg sandwiches in the car!)
  • Try to choose a seat that experiences less motion, (over the wing on a plane)
  • Avoid sitting facing backwards (on trains)
  • Sit in the front of the car if possible
  • Do not read in the car
  • Open a vent or window for some fresh air
  • Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about natural remedies or  medication that might help ease the nausea.

Unfortunately, there is still no ‘cure’ for motion sickness. It is a human phenomenon that has baffled doctors and scientists for centuries – Nausea in Greek means seasickness (naus means ship). Here is  a great TED-Ed video lesson about ‘The Mystery of Motion Sickness”












3 thoughts on “Traveling with Kids – Motion Sickness

    • Thank you Dear Friend! You are right, but I was dreading the possibility that we’d be arriving with a car-load of the dreaded ‘tummy bug’ – AND just days before Christmas! Oh my! 😯

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