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Published January 7th 2013
A long drive with children doesn't have to end in smears
You are on the open highway feeling free and relaxed.
Your children are happily chattering in the back seat and then suddenly there is a moment's silence and it happens: a warm gush down the back of your neck.
It is not a pleasant experience. Yet every year thousands of families have their holiday spirits dampened by someone being carsick.
And it is usually a child. It tends to peak during childhood and then some kids grow out of it by adolescence. But for some of us it it remains for the rest of our lives and we dread long car trips. Especially on mountain roads.
Car sickness occurs because what we see through our eyes and the sensitive balance mechanism in our inner ear sways out of synch when travelling.
So here are some options that might just solve the barfing problem.
1) Drive at night. Children tend to sleep (at night) and also in the darkness there is less to disturb their shifting vision.
But an over-tired drive is of greater concern than a queasy passenger. So another solution is to travel by day, but try to reconcile the conflicting sensations.
2) One way to do this is to have your child sit in the centre of the or the front seat if they are old enough (only in an appropriate restraint of course). This way he or she can see a relatively fixed point: the road ahead.
The centre of the back seat is also considered a safe place for children to be placed.
3) On winding roads those who are prone to vomiting should lean in the same direction as the driver. Drivers rarely get carsick because they subconsciously lean slightly in the direction they are travelling. Passengers, on the other hand, tend to lean in the opposite direction to maintain balance. This only accentuates the mismatch of information and makes you feel queasy.
4) It also helps if you do not look down which people tend to do if they are reading in the car. With children you can get them to listen to stories or play games such as 20 Questions or Spotto. For some car games click here.
5) Frequent stops are also helpful, but this should not be a chance to fill up on hamburgers and fizzy drinks or there may be quite a bit to mop up later.
6) It helps to have a light meal well before the journey and take cold drinking water and easily digestible snacks such as dry biscuits and barley sugar.
7) Being in stuffy environment can also make people nauseous. So make sure sufferers are not over-dressed and the temperature in the cabin is cool.
8) For really prone sufferers there are travel sickness tables available over the counter at most chemists. This must be taken half an hour before departure.
9) If you don't like taking pills many chemist stock homeopathic alternatives such as Vomiplex and Ginger Tincture. Some people also swear that taking ginger helps and some people suck on crystallised ginger.
10) If all fails then at least be prepared. Carry an empty ice-cream container or similar. You also need to have a family system whereby if someone feels ill, the driver knows to stop the car without discussion. Or else!