Keep your family healthy and happy in transit.
Whether you’re traveling by car for a short trip or a long family vacation, it’s important to put safety first and be prepared to keep everyone occupied. Knowing what to do in case of motion sickness/carsickness can also make for carefree driving. There are many ways to make family car trips not only bearable, but fun. Happy travels!
Car seat safety is crucial. Children should ride in the backseat of the vehicle until they are 13 years old. Everyone traveling in the car should always wear a seatbelt (you need to be a good role model by always buckling up). For the most up-todate information on car seat safety, visit http://www.safercar.gov/parents.
* First and foremost, be in the moment. Enjoy this time with the family (don’t think of what needs to be done or tomorrow’s schedule). Your kids are only young once!
* Bring a cookie tray, a favorite among many parents and available at most dollar stores. Use it for age-appropriate activities – puzzles, magnetic letters, magnetic paper dolls, magnetic shapes, travel bingo, coloring, as a snack table. It cleans up easily and keeps all ages occupied.
* Play age-appropriate games:
• I Spy, something with my little eye, inside or outside of the car (which can include everyone).
• Alphabet Game. Name something inside or outside of the vehicle that starts with A to Z.
• Number Game. Begin with 1, next person says 2 and so forth, and see how far everyone can count.
• License Plate Game. This is a classic. Drivers from all over the country are sharing the road with you. Have each person name off plates they see from other states, or make it even more fun and give everyone a blank map of the United States. As they spot different state license plates, they fill it in on the map. Older children can help their younger siblings who can color in the states. Whoever fills in the most states wins.
• For longer trips, print out a road map from start to finish, have everyone follow along the map and mark off where you’ve been.
• Sing along to music or CDs.
• Bring a bag filled with fun toys. Pull out a new toy every 5 miles, 30 minutes, etc. This will keep kids excited and wondering what’s next .
• Allow for healthy snacks, cut them into shapes and letters. Use the snacks as a teaching moment for your kids.
• Bring family movies, but don’t let this occupy all of your family’s time because this is a moment for everyone to have fun with one another.
Solutions for Motion Sickness/Carsickness
Children ages 5 to 12 seem to be more susceptible to motion sickness, while it is rare in children younger than 2. Signs/ symptoms include nausea, dizziness, vomiting, headache, cold sweat, fatigue and pale skin.
People often try alternative methods of preventing motion sickness. There is little scientific evidence that these methods work, but there is no harm in trying them.
• Ginger cookies/ginger ale – a traditional remedy.
• Dry crackers or peppermint (age-appropriate).
• Listening to music as a distraction from sickness.
• Fresh air.
• Frequent short stops.
• Having a light snack prior to leaving.
• Sitting facing forward (when age-appropriate). Sitting forward will help keep the motion sensed by children’s eyes and ears the same.
• Looking outside, at what’s far away, such as the barn up ahead or a mountain.
• Whichever type of vehicle you’re in, find the place with the least amount of unt movement. This means sitting closer to the center.
Medications for Motion Sickness
• Antiemetic’s or antihistamines: Dimenhydrinate is approved for kids two years of age and older, and diphenhydramine can be used for kids six years and older (talk to your provider about correct dosages).
Drug-Free Wrist Bands
• Acupressure bracelets put pressure on certain pressure points of the body.
Cheri Barber, DNP, RN, CRNP, is Past President of NAPNAP and the Coordinator of the PNP Program at UMKC. She is also a PPCP at Pediatric Medical Associates.