How to Cope With Car Sickness

I’m not really a car trip person.  I come to this conclusion honestly:

As a child, car trips with my father were a marathon drive session, interrupted by a short time spent doing something, and then the marathon drive continued.

I get carsick.

I don’t remember getting carsick as a child, but then I always remember having lots of things to do in the car.  Books, games, paper and pencil, color books, etc.

Riding in the car, watching the world go past, engenders first a headache, which, if quick intervention is not provided, soon spreads to a general feeling of lethargy throughout my entire body.  This can be after as short a period of time as 10 minutes, or it can take upwards of an hour or so for the onset.

Part of me would really like to embrace the occasional car trip.  It’s a great way to see much of the world.  There are places that you just can’t see unless you get off an airplane, into a car, and explore off the beaten path.

Over the years, I’ve developed some coping skills to help deal with the carsick “issue,” as I like to call it.

  • I need to keep water, or other liquids, in the car with me.  They need to be chilled, even if not ice cold.  If it’s a long trip, I’ll need a cooler with back up beverages.
  • I need to control my own window.  Sometimes I want it down a little, sometimes a lot, sometimes not at all.  It doesn’t make any sense, so there’s no use trying to figure it out.  Just let me be in charge of the darn thing.
  • I need something to keep me occupied and away from looking out the window.  (There seem to be two groups here ““ those that can look at something in the car and those that can’t.  I’m with the former.)  Even if it’s a short trip, chances are I have a book, magazine, newspaper, or something, to keep handy.  For longer trips, I’ll probably pack all of those things, plus my laptop and a movie, a backup book, or some other project.
  • If I say that I need to stop, please pull over at the next opportunity.  Don’t ask if I can wait another 50 miles.  I wouldn’t be asking NOW if I could wait another 50 miles.  I may just need to stand up and walk around for a few minutes.  It may be more serious.  If I ask, I just need you to do it.  Now.
  • If all else fails, I need to recline the seat and shut my eyes.  I may not sleep, but it will help center me, and get me back to feeling okay.

I’m sure that I’m not alone with this problem, and that there are lots of other people for whom a car trip is a major ordeal.  If you have coping skills that work for you, please pass them on ““ for my benefit, and all those who are too reluctant to ask for help.


Photo credit:  flickr

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Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

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