How to Help Kids who get Car Sick

How to Help Kids who get Car Sick

Last month we went to Florida for a two week vacation to visit my parents and go to our beach condo. Since we would be there for so long, and flights are always so expensive in the summer, we made the long drive. It takes us about 17 hours to get from Houston all the way down to Fort Myers, Florida, and we always drive it straight through only stopping for gas, quick food, and bathroom breaks. This is the second time we have done that drive, and the first time had no issues with the boys getting car sick. This year was a different story.

We got up really early and left the house at 4am. I brought some breakfast bites to eat in the car so we wouldn’t have to take the time to eat that early in the morning. Of course, Ryan wanted some food pretty quickly, because that boy loves to eat. Tyler kept telling me he wasn’t hungry, so we didn’t force it. After a couple hours, he decided to have some bites, but only ate a few and said he was done. I didn’t think much of it until about 4 hours into the trip, once it was fully light outside, and he said his tummy hurt and he threw up the little amount of breakfast he ate.

I was not prepared for that. The closest thing I had to try to catch it in was a reusable grocery bag that I had some water bottles in, and luckily it was lined. I shoved that under his mouth and he used that as a barf bag. So we pulled over, got him cleaned up and changed clothes, and cleaned the car seat the best we could. I also grabbed a garbage bag from the back of the Jeep to have as a just-in-case bag.

Well it was a good thing, because that wasn’t the only time Tyler got sick. After the next time, we told him not to play on his Kindle Fire, as that will usually make people more car sick. I tried to convince him to just close his eyes and sleep, but he didn’t want to. So what does any parent do? I went to the internet, specifically my June Baby group, and asked for advice.

  1. Open the windows for fresh air
    This sounds like a great idea, only problem: it rained about 14 of the 17 hours we were in the car. A few of the times were blinding rain that we almost couldn’t see the road. And when we tried to open them in the few times without rain the boys complained because it was so loud since we were driving down the interstate.
  2. Sleep
    I kept trying to tell him to sleep, but he didn’t want to. We were driving during the day so it was bright out. He fell asleep in intervals, but I could tell he was uncomfortable because his face would be scrunched up. Although when he was sleeping, he wasn’t vomiting, so that did help a bit.
  3. Take away devices
    We did this the second time he threw up, which was after he started watching his Kindle. He was getting bored, but only complained when his tummy started to feel funny.
  4. Take off his glasses
    Tyler wears prescription glasses to try to keep his eyes in line (lazy eye), so they are a stronger prescription than he needs. We took these off of him after a while, and it did seem to help. I had his sunglasses with me so he wore those instead.
  5. Kids Dramamine and/or Sea Bands
    By the time we were given this suggestion, we were only 2 hours from my parents house so just kept on trucking through. The next day I went to CVS and bought some Kids Dramamine (completely forgot about the sea bands) to have for the car ride home. I talked to the pharmacist to see if there was anything prescription because I could call his pediatrician and she said Dramamine is the best for that.
  6. Stop for the night, or at least a few hours
    We really don’t like to stop, but just drive straight through. It’s not easy to stop with kids their ages. But we had decided that, if he was this bad on the way home, we would stop halfway.
  7. Look out the front window and/or move him to the front
    We encouraged him to look out the front rather than the sides. The suggestion of moving to the front was dismissed right away because in the US it isn’t legal at his age (it was suggested from a friend in the UK where their laws are different).
  8. Ice chips/water
    Tyler couldn’t even keep water down. At one point, since he wasn’t eating, I asked him to at least take a sip of water. About 10 minutes later, he threw up the water. So from that point on we didn’t have him eat anything.
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I felt so bad for Tyler. I know it isn’t fun to throw up, and he did 6 times on the way to Florida. I started running out of options for him to use (even using a ziplock bag one time) so asked for bags from the gas station attendants. When I told them why, they were happy to hand me a few bags to keep in the car. I had a few outfits prepared in case we needed to change clothes, but Tyler went through them all and I had to put Ryan’s spare shirt on him! It was a little tight, but it worked.

At one point, someone also asked if he maybe had a stomach bug, but he didn’t have a fever or any other signs of being sick. He was fine the night before. And I was able to completely rule that out because the moment we got to my parents house he was full of energy, running around, and eating anything we would let him before they went to bed.

Kids Dramamine was our savior on the drive home. We gave some to Tyler as soon as we woke him up to leave, and made sure he got it every 6 hours (as was directed). Ryan didn’t have any problem on the way there, so we didn’t give him any. We left at 4am again, and by 5:45 Ryan had already eaten a bag of breakfast bites and some goldfish. Then about two hours later, he got sick and oh man that smelled so bad I almost got sick too. So we got him cleaned up and changed, then gave him Dramamine as well.

As long as we kept up with the Dramamine, the boys were good. It can only be given to kids their age every 6 hours, up to 3 times per day. The drive took a little longer than expected on the way home due to traffic and multiple bathroom breaks, so the last one started to wear off from Tyler before we got home. About 30 minutes left in the drive and he got sick. He didn’t eat anything the entire drive, didn’t have his Kindle, and didn’t wear his glasses either.

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Thinking back to our last few trips, we realized we are going to need to keep Kids Dramamine on us when we travel. When we went to Colorado in January, Tyler got sick in the car driving from the airport to the hotel, but we thought it was because the flight was very bumpy. My mom also reminded me that he got sick the last time we flew as well. Motion sickness may be something we have to keep a handle on for Tyler. But he’s a champ, it doesn’t keep him from wanting to travel!

How to Help Kids who get Car Sick How to Help Kids who get Car Sick How to Help Kids who get Car Sick

34 thoughts on “How to Help Kids who get Car Sick

  1. I’ve had a few instances of getting nauseous when reading while riding in the car and it was no fun at all. I can’t even imagine how miserable your little guy must have been on the trip to FL! I’ve heard great things about Dramamine helping with car sickness, so I think making sure you always have it on hand when you travel is definitely a good idea!

  2. These are some awesome tips. I usually take a break at night so that my daughter can sleep soundly as this helps her recharge for the next part of the trip. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Poor Baby! I’m so glad the kids Dramamine worked for him on the way back. We took a long trip this year (San Antonio-> Georgia-> New Jersey and Back!) and it was killer!! Besides the diarrhea on the GA to NJ leg, the kids did ok and thankfully, the only one with car sickness is me! LOL

  4. I used to be like this, I got sick every time we were going somewhere! My mom used to tell me to look to the front window. Also, like you mentioned, no reading (this was a long time ago so we didn’t have electronic devices :D), and sometimes the inevitable happened anyway. On a side note, I love long road trips like this one! I live in South Africa and last December we travelled from Johannesburg to Cape Town, we were visiting my husband’s family, about 17 hours as well. It’s exhausting but I absolutely love it!

  5. These are really awesome tips : )can’t even imagine how miserable your little guy must have been on the trip. Definitely gonna share with my friends who needs this 🙂 !

    1. Thanks! He was miserable, but if either had to be sick at least it was the one old enough to tell me when he felt it coming so we didn’t have too many messes! Thanks for sharing!!

  6. These are really great tips on how to help a kid who has motion sickness. We haven’t had any long drives with my daughter just yet but I’m going to be sure to keep these tips in mind when we do and I will definitely get some of the motion sickness medication just to be on the safe side.

    1. I heard Benadryl is good too to help them sleep, but the few times I have had to give it to my boys it just makes them hyper! I wanted to try fresh air but the rain made that hard this trip.

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