We were driving through winding roads on our way out of town, happily enjoying the fresh breeze three hours into our trip when my then 18 month old baby first threw up in the car.
I panicked, frantically pulled every piece of fabric I could find to clear up the mess. He discharged copious amounts of milk and bits of breakfast. His car seat was soaked, his clothes were filled with puke, my dress was drenched with vomit.
Since then, my husband and I have had to deal with these unpleasant episodes during our road trips (we travel a lot). As they say, experience is the best teacher, and nothing could hasten your learning more than the prospect of avoiding nasty incidents such as those to give way to a smooth-sailing travel experience. And a nice smelling car.
From someone who has had to learn the hard way, here are tips on how to cope with toddlers that are prone to car sickness:
- Know the signs of an impending episode. I’ve learned to be familiar with the signs of an imminent bout of projectile vomiting by observing my toddler carefully. I’ve discovered that fidgeting and a suspiciously quiet disposition are my cues. If he’s unresponsive even when we play his favorite song (Fast As You Can by Fiona Apple is his current fave), then I know there’s something brewing. And it’s not coffee.
- Keep the temperature low. Humidity can be the culprit. If I notice my baby perspiring, it’s time to crank up the air conditioner. Sometimes we stop to have a break and re-evaluate my baby’s comfort level.
- Avoid driving through zig-zag roads. If it cannot be avoided, try driving slower than usual. The constant rocking motion triggers motion sickness.
- Schedule the trip when the baby is about to take a nap, or is still asleep, like wee hours in the morning. Our Baguio trip went smoothly because my toddler was asleep half the time.
- Bring these items:
- brown bag, or those vomit bags from airplanes work wonderfully. A plastic bag is not very good at catching vomit. Big ziplock bags are also good.
- wet ones
- towels. Lots and lots of towels.
- change of clothes for baby
- change of clothes for you
- rubbing alcohol
- car freshener, preferably organic. Our citronella mosquito deterrent spray doubles as pleasant smelling air freshener, and an effective means to mask unpleasant smells
My baby turns three in a few more months, and he still has his bouts of motion sickness during long car rides. We’ve come to accept it’s as an inevitable part of our family’s propensity to hit the road whenever we feel the need to escape the concrete jungle and traffic congestion. Road trips are an essential part of creating beautiful memories and stories to regale our son and his son’s sons and daughters during our twilight years. And no amount of temporary setbacks like a little throw up could quite satiate our family’s all-consuming wanderlust.