Whether your holiday travel is by plane, train or automobile, if you’re traveling with kids, you should be on the lookout for motion sickness. It’s caused when the brain, body and inner ear receive differing signals about whether or not you are moving.
Symptoms include dizziness, nausea (and vomiting) and headache.
If your children have experienced motion sickness in the car, they’ll likely experience it on a plane or train as well, according to Mary Hull, a San Dimas mom of three and family nurse practitioner at CVS MinuteClinics in Burbank and Pomona. “If you have a child who has experienced that in the past, I would be very careful about prevention,” Hull says.
If you’re in the car, that can start with some old-school fun: “Listening to music, talking to each other, audio books, things that we used to do years ago,” says Hull. Reading, handheld games, smartphone use and watching movies are likely to bring on motion sickness.
Avoid heavy, greasy meals before travel and pack prevention essentials, including gingersnap cookies, peppermint candy (for older kids), ginger ale and dry crackers to help settle the stomach. You can check with your doctor about dosing with over-the-counter Benadryl or Dramamine, which you can give 30 to 60 minutes before you depart. Bring along plastic bags and a change of clothes in case your child needs to vomit.
Once you are underway, keep an eye on how your child is feeling. Older kids can let you know. For the littlest ones, watch for irritability and behavior changes. In the car, try to position your child so that she can see the road and open a window if you can. For kids in rear-facing car seats, frequent rest stops might help. Hull also recommends trying Sea-Band, a knitted acupressure wristband designed to combat nausea.
If your child begins to feel nauseous, “you want to stop what they’re doing, close their eyes and recline as much as possible,” says Hull. A cool face cloth and something to nibble on might help. Hull experiences motion sickness herself, as does her 7-year-old daughter. They rely on fresh ginger, music, open windows and careful driving to help. “I’m very careful, especially in L.A. traffic, to make sure I’m not braking too often because that can cause the nausea to get worse,” she says.