Are you planning a family road trip? As well as mapping out the route, packing suitcases, and bringing enough snacks and toys to last for the duration, you should also brush up on your best techniques for tackling an onset of car sickness. Even if your children have never suffered before, motion sickness can strike at any time, so you should make sure you are well prepared. An episode of car sickness has the potential to ruin the start of your vacation, or turn a happy day trip into a nightmare.

Before a recent trip The brain receives conflicting signalsto Wales from Cambridgeshire with my two young children, I stocked up on sweets, coloring books, pencils and stickers—spending a whopping £28 to ensure we had a smooth trip. But an hour into the four-hour journey, while I was driving at full speed down the highway, my two-year-old suddenly became extremely sick. I couldn’t see what was happening in the back or do anything about it, the children were crying, and I started feeling an overwhelming sense of panic. Needless to say, we weren’t exactly maintaining our calming vacation vibe. It turned out I was not as prepared for every eventuality as I had thought I was.

After cleaning my windows, car seats, seatbelts, and both children’s clothes with baby wipes on the side of the highway, I decided to research what could be done to prevent or reduce the chances of the children suffering from motion sickness on future trips, especially on our return trip from Wales a few days later!

What causes it?

Motion sickness occurs when the brain receives conflicting signals from the motion-sensing parts of the body—the ears and eyes, and the nerves in all of the extremities. This subtle confusion can activate a response that can make you feel very sick.

If your child starts to develop the symptoms of motion sickness, the best approach is to stop the activity that’s causing it as soon as you safely can. If you are in the car, pull over somewhere safe, and let the child get out and walk around. For severe cases, it may be necessary to do this several times. If you’re taking a long trip, plan to break up the travel time. Schedule these stops in advance to avoid the stress of finding a suitable place to stop.

Tips & Tricks

If the kids haven’t eaten for two to three hours, give your child a light snack before the trip. This relieves any hunger pangs, which seem to add to the symptoms. Always keep a pack of ginger cookies in the car, as ginger helps combat nausea. Other great snacks include cheese sandwiches, breadsticks, or other plain but filling food. You don’t want any sort of milkshakes, sweets, or chocolates going around in their tummies if they’re on the brink of sickness!Open the windows for fresh air

Try to ensure they are not buried in a book, DVD, or iPad. When their eyes don’t sense the motion that the rest of their body is feeling, the confusion can result in motion sickness. Try to play games which involve looking around the car or outside of the car, like I Spy or looking for unusual license plates, trucks or red cars, depending on their age and attention span.

If they do become queasy, open the windows for fresh air until you’re able to stop the car and go out for a walk. Regardless of the temperature, just sticking a hand out of the window can alleviate some of the symptoms. Try to distract them from the queasy feeling—listen to the radio, sing or talk.

If the Worst Should Happen

If your kids do become sick, stop the car and let them either take a walk around in the fresh air or, if possible, have them lie down on their backs for a few minutes. Placing a damp, cold cloth (you can keep it in a freezer bag) on their foreheads can lessen the nausea. Always keep a change of clothes, towels, plastic bags and some Febreze in your trunk just in case. No one wants to have to sit in dirty clothes or be surrounded by a lingering smell for the rest of the journey—that will only make everyone feel worse!

If your child is known for bad episodes of car sickness, consider asking your doctor about suitable medication, such as Dramamine or Benadryl.