Be Prepared for Carsickness

Summer vacations are just around the corner. And with them come the summer road trip. And while your destination and your luggage are important things to plan for, so is the inevitable bout of carsickness.

Yes, you hate to think about it. But, when your child hollers, “Mom, I feel sick!” from the backseat as you tool along I-35 with no place to stop, you’re going to have to think about it. So, plan ahead.

Both my girls tend toward car sickness. And recent experience, like both of them throwing up in the car two days in a row, has taught me to be better prepared. Trying to clean up the Rapunzel doll’s hair in the aftermath is no fun. Trust me.

You never know when your child might feel queasy on the road, so pack a box like this one:

Car Sick Kit

  • paper towels – for wiping up
  • disinfecting wipes – for sanitizing
  • plastic cups – for a stand in “barf bucket”
  • mini can of Lysol – for fumigating
  • squirt bottle – for cleaning off car seats, seat belts, and Rapunzel’s tangled doll hair (don’t ask)
  • plastic bags – to contain all the trash and mucked up clothes
  • and a first aid kit just ‘cuz

It is now standard operating procedure to hand the boys plastic cups so that they can hand them to their sisters should they get sick en route. And if they miss the cup, well, we’re prepared for clean up duty, too.

What do YOU do to be prepared on the road?

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  1. For carsickness, I also keep a bottle of crystallized ginger that I get from the spice aisle in the grocery store. When the kids (or I) start to feel queasy, I give them a small handful to munch on. Ginger works well as a motion sickness remedy, surprisingly enough. (Mythbusters confirmed!)

  2. ohhh….ohhhh. hehe. Thanks for the real life tips yet again :) I’m so lucky that none of us ever got car sick … that would just sooo ruin a pleasant trip :) You keep crackers somewhere too?

  3. The last time we went on a plane trip, I made it a point to pick up a few extra air sick bags (although the are kind of tough to come by on airlines these days). I have them stored in my glove box….just in case!

  4. My son gets really carsick- we found that they know have wristband for carsickness that do work wonderful – we have tried them on a couple trips and they did the trick – we got ours at Rite-aid for about $8 – so worth it – and yes lego’s are not fun to clean up either :)

  5. I have 2 kids who tend to car sickness so I am careful what they drink/eat prior to the trip (NO oj, etc) and then I make sure to have wipes and a change of clothes very very handy (not packed in suitcase) and plastic bags to seal the dirty clothes. Since room in the car is at a premium, I usually pack their toys and stuff near their feet in the car – every trip now I then take extra towels and our waterproof crib sheets from back in the day and spread them on top of anything on the floor – if someone gets sick, I can just whip off that layer and bag it – the stuff underneath is protected. I carry extra towels (old hand towels etc) near the back seat so the older kids can hand them to whomever is not feeling well. Definitely being prepared helps!! I never want to relive one trip where we had to dig through our luggage for clean clothes, which mean emptying a ton of stuff from the trunk to get to the kids clothes!!! We also tell the kids to look up from whatever they are doing every 15 mins or so and crack a window if someone is feeling icky.

  6. I used to get car sick as kid once in awhile. I definitely found that I cannot look down and do anything. It is much better in the front seat too, although that is not going to work for little kids. The other thing I found when I was a kid was that munching on pretzels really helped. I’m not sure why, but I learned to always have pretzels in the car with me.

  7. My kids would miss a plastic cup every time. We take a bathroom garbage can with a plastic bag liner in it–zero mess when they throw up in the bucket and we throw away the garbage bag at the next rest stop!

  8. Oh, this was me. First day of a 3-week car trip, I threw up half an hour from home. I remember a lot of throwing up that trip… and I was 5. On the other hand, I now have AWESOME aim when it comes to hitting whatever happens to be the target – the giant trash can on the train (yep, been that commuter), the barf bucket (the old school tupperware rock), the plastic bag in the trash can (I feel sorry for the kid who had to take that trash out), the airplane bag.
    Tips: always always always teach your children to check for something to throw up in when they get in the car. Not when they already feel sick, but before the car (or train or plane) is even going. I’ve also been that person who’s bothered the flight attendant for a barf bag when I sit down, everybody not even boarded. If you can, take a nap. If you can’t, don’t read, don’t look sideways out the window. Look straight ahead, sit in front or middle of backseat if possible. Clear soda helps a lot. Don’t eat before traveling, or if you do, make it something dry and easy – crackers, pretzels, rice chex. Benadryl and dramamine are also drug options if you aren’t opposed to that.

    Oh, good luck. Poor girls. It gets better when you’re old enough to drive.

    • @Molly, I agree with everything you’ve said, Molly. I was the carsick one as a child. So far, thankfully, none of my kids take after me in that regard. As soon as I could sit in the front, it helped immensely. Driving is even better, but passenger seat isn’t bad. I still can’t read in the car.

  9. We do gallon sized ziploc bags. A much bigger opening to get sick into, and seals to make disposal easier. I always take them with us :)

  10. Sea bands and chewing gum help me deal with car sickness, so I try to have them on hand for the kiddos as well.

  11. My son was three the first time he threw up on a road trip. Now, he takes Dramamine before car and plane trips… nothing else has helped. Every once in awhile, we try to go without. We’ve figured out that he can do about 25-30 minutes in the car before he gets sick. The only way to fix it is to let him get out of the car and walk around for 20 minutes or so.

  12. We drove from NY to Disney World last summer and thank goodness neither of my kids got car sick. These are FANTASTIC tips and will definetly put in action for our road trips this summer. Because it would be a total disaster to have someone get sit on the road without any type of reinforcements. Thanks again!

  13. Susie's Homemade says:

    Thank goodness my kids don’t get sick!

  14. These are excellent tips, there were a few trips that I wished I would have been so prepared. Let me tell you, stripping down a crying toddler in a rest stop during a downpour at 1 am in the morning isn’t fun :)

    Just a note – no matter how old your kids get this is still potentially an issue not only for a car ride but also a plane ride. When my daughter was 11 we had a mess in the middle of an airport terminal and while in the air. Probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to think about modifying the kit for airplane rides also. Flight attendants in coach aren’t to thrilled with helping with the clean-up.

  15. Our 6 year old gets car sick just driving around town. So, on a drive of any distance we have to be prepared.

    On longer trips we usually have a bag of extra clothing for all of us. One trip I put aside extra clothes for the kids which we needed after a vomit fest which also included getting sick on Mom! Needless to say we had to unpack most of the van to get to my clothes :( At least the kids were dry and clean :)

    We also take some large bath towels. The kids use them blankets and if they get sick on them no big deal. We aren’t washing out their favorite blankie in the gas station sink!

    We don’t eat big meals before we hit the road. Lots of fluids and snack along the way.

    Thanks for the great tips! I need to add a spray bottle for easier clean up of car seats. And I think I also need to look into the Sea Bands.

  16. My son is prone to carsickness, and though he’s older we don’t always have much warning. I put 2-3 paper towels in the bottom of a gallon-sized ziploc, and put that into the seatback pocket of the seat in front of where he sits. But he’s also used the little pop-up trashcan I keep in my van (thankfully, I had a spare plastic grocery bag in the car and got it lined just. in. time).
    FYI – my daughter’s allergist shared this little tidbit with me – Benadryl and Dramamine share the same active ingredient, Dramamine just has something extra in it (to keep you awake?). If you already have Benadryl on hand, you can also use it to combat motion sickness (and I don’t know anyone who minds a sleepy child if you’re spending a lot of time in the road or in the air!).

  17. I get car sick and my husband found this wonderful natural oil at West Marine called Motion Ease that you put behind your ears. It works WONDERS! No more carsickness for me :)

    • @Coby, I still get car sick (& air sick, sea sick, train sick…you get the picture) and I LOVE Motion Ease!!! I always had to take Dramamine and it would totally knock me out (even the less drowsy kind). Motion Ease does work wonders!!! My oldest daughter is prone to car sickness as well and works great for her too. We also use it on all of the kids for airplane rides just as a preventive measure. Since it’s all natural I’m not concerned about using it just in case.

  18. Getting stuck like this has happened to me numerous times and when it does I hand over a peppermint life saver. It has saved the day I can’t tell you how many times. I buy the big bag of individually wrapped candies and they reside permanently in the glove compartment.

  19. We save the large sized Kraft butter jars for the sole purpose of acting as an emergency resevoir. It’s just always in the back seat of both vehciles. It’s come in handy before and it’s a wonderful thing to have a tight screw-on leak proof lid. Seriously. I’d recommend it for every vehicle!

  20. I too would definitely add the change of clothes in the bag. My kids all had a stage when they were prone to car sickness.

  21. We use ziploc bags or plastic grocery bags (my 6yo wouldn’t be able to contain it into a cup, either). I line grocery bags with a couple paper towels in case of any tiny holes that may drip through the car.

    We also keep peppermints & ginger in the car. Altoids makes both kinds and I also find small tins of them at the HFS.

  22. Don’t forget to give each child a bag (especially if they are known to get sick) so if they do get sick there won’t be much to clean up. I have given my oldest a small brown paper lunch sack with a small plastic produce bag inside so it wouldn’t go through the paper bag. It works.

  23. Ohhh, my daughter gets carsick ALOT too. Poor kid. We’ve learned to bring along empty ice cream buckets (with the lid!). That way if she needs to throw up and I can’t pull over fast enough, it’s contained. Plus we can put the lid on and just toss it at the next rest stop. Thank goodness she’s old enough now to be able to predict when she’s going to be sick. It was a nightmare when she was a toddler! lol

  24. Thanks for this post! My 3 yr old has recently begun to car sick when we are on longer trips so we’ve also found the need to have supplies handy for cleanup and damage control! lol The box is a great idea, that way I can just keep it in the car instead of trying to remember what all I need each time. :) Plastic bags are also nice for containing yucky clothes when the bucket doesn’t get there in time.

  25. Karen C. says:

    We have a kid who gets car sick, too. His first bout with it was when he was 5 months old and we were traveling in Italy with the kids. Worst sound ever to hear it without warning from a rear facing babe. Thankfully since we were still in diapers we had a change of clothes for him, and wipes, but getting the stink out of the car seat while traveling was not easy.

    Fast forward 7 years and he still gets car sick every so often. He actually has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and he has overly sensitive vestibular senses which means he feels motion more than others and is less able to regulate. At least now we know why he gets car sick. We keep those kidney shaped plastic buckets from the hospital in our car (grabbed extra when we had some day surgery and then when #3 was born). Also keep a roll of paper towels and plastic bags. Most of the time he can tell us now and we pull over and he gets sick on the side of the road. He has Sea Bands that he wears on long trips and sometimes we give him Dramamine.

  26. My 2yo DD randomly gets sick in the car – I assume it’s carsickness – but it can occur on a 5 minute trip or a 60 minute trip, on a straight road or a windy drive. I can’t find any rhyme or reason to it. All the things listed for the car sick kit sound great & I should have more of them on hand. My MIL got me some of these from the hospital she works at – Eme-Bags. They’re great, and are easy to keep on hand, use, contain the contents & them dispose of. I showed my DD how to hold it in front of her mouth & she did it just right from the start. Now she just tells me that she has to barf & I hand her the bag. :)

    http://www.mpsmedicalsupply.com/Eme-Bag-Sic-Sac?gclid=CLzu89zCpKkCFYWK4AodymL0LQ

  27. Michele says:

    We have one with Sensory Processing Disorder as well, who has thrown up on many a flight and car ride. We finally got Zofran (or there is a cheap generic eqivalent now) from our Pediatrician – it was been extremely helpful in preventing the unpleasantness. We also eat ginger chews (made by, of course The Ginger People) as we take off and land. They are helpful in settling things down a bit and a welcome distraction.

  28. Christine says:

    I got horribly car sick as a child. Here are my tips:

    Dramamine does wonders, if nothing else, because it knocks you out. When you’re that sick, sleep is a relief.

    Make sure that your kids have fun things that are audio based, so they don’t have to be watching a movie or even playing licence plate bingo. Those visual things make car sickness worse.

    Sitting in the front seat helps, or as close to the front of the car as possible, ideally looking out the windshield.

    Allow me to suggest a ziplock bag to puke in. Easier target to hit and easier cleanup than a cup. Just seal and deliver to the nearest trash can.

  29. Ha Ha! I have an almost identical kit in my car. My Little M knew how to throw up in a bag by the time she was 2. . .poor little thing!

  30. When child #3 got sick on every long trip we took, we made sure to pack baking soda with the other clean up supplies. Sprinkle it on the seat and floor to help with the odor after cleaning.

    Thankfully, he’s outgrown this, and now he just needs some dramamine at the beginning of the trip.

  31. We always stock NEW ziploc bags in our car for car sickness. Preferrably the quart size. The kids can puke in them and we can zip up the top and toss it at the next stop. Works great!

  32. I also recommend the ziploc bags! I like the gallon size though, helps with splatter! I also keep a bath towel or two to put over the carseat before they sit back in it.

  33. Our fifth child is the puker- we keep a gallon ice cream bucket with the lid at her feet so she can sit it in her lap when she feels it coming on.

  34. My oldest son is prone to carsickness, and I am starting to get it more as I age! I’ve discovered that those starlight peppermints ($1 a bag at walmart!) can help to ward off a queasy tummy if we suck on them periodically throughout the drive.

  35. We called it a “yukk bucket”. I would label a medium sized container and store plastic shopping bags in it. That way the “yukk” was contained in a bag which is easily thrown out. Thankfully our daughter doesn’t get carsick as often anymore.

  36. I have to chime in about the SeaBands! I have always been prone to motion sickness from a child. I get dizzy doing a circle in Zumba! Last summer, our family did a 4000 mile road trip over 12 days. I wore SeaBands the entire time and NEVER got sick even going over mountains and with my spouse being the driver (not always the most relaxing experience). I did a little reading, a little knitting, minimal turns to the back to help our then-3 yr old. We do keep the same kit in our car with reminders to the (only) older child prone to sickness about where available receptacles are just in case. :) Oh….and no milkshakes…ewwww….

  37. We use a gallon-sized zipper bag with couple of paper towels folded up and tucked inside (to help soak up the liquid part…). And, paper towels and wipes in the event of any “misses.”
    Sea Bands have been great for my son, but we have used benadryl, too (same active ingredient as dramamine).

  38. I am a total hosptial throw up bag klepto. Anytime we have to be at a doctor’s office, hospital, Urgent Care for whatever reason, I just happen to need plenty of these….and they stayed stored in the car. They work perfectly, contain the mess and are plenty big. Unfortunately, 2 of my kiddos are carsick prone as well….and my family lives 12 hours from us. We are road trip experts. ;)

  39. Shudder—so glad mine aren’t prone to that. Love your set up though. We do keep ginger tablets on hand. Got us through a 7 day cruise (and no effects of dramamine), bus & car rides through the mountains, etc. So, not sure how well this works for those who get real sick, but the “real queasy to nauseous folks”– works great. (would have jumped overboard without the stuff) :)

  40. Oh wow! Never thought of that. I could have used that with my second son.

  41. Oh, how I wish I would have seen this last year! My family drove 1,000 miles to Missouri for my son’s graduation from boot camp and AIT, and my, then, 2 year old must have vomited at least five times each way in our RENTED mini-van. The smell was horrible, and I felt so sorry for her. My poor husband had to do a major cleanup before returning the van!

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  1. [...] few too many times of delaying or canceling an excursion due to carsickness, I’ve learned to keep an emergency kit in the back of the car. Readers had some great suggestions (that you should read), so I’m [...]

  2. [...] together “emergency kits” for the road for carsickness, first aid, spontaneous picnics, diaper changing supplies or collapsible toilet [...]

  3. [...] you have a child emergency kit (aka sick kit) in your [...]

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