We’ve all been there.
It’s halfway through a family road, because your parents just couldn’t take a plane ride to that hub of aviation we call Vermont, and a wave of carsickness hits you, and hello gag reflex my old friend.
Every time this happens to me, I can’t help but ask myself “why? Why am I made to suffer in this Odyssey while everyone else is absolutely fine?”
Well, turns out it’s because of your inner ears, and a miscommunication between your brain and your body. Fluids in your inner ear detects that you’re moving in a car, but your brain is like “f*ck that noise, we’re not moving at all. Dumb body.”
And so, your body probably thinks it’s been poisoned by that Dunkin Donuts coffee you just downed, and it feels the need to try so very hard to expel whatever is making this incongruous brain-body conflict.
But have no fear, there are certain preventative measures as well as things you can do to abate the feelings of nausea that your body generates LIKE THE DUMB BODY IT IS.
1. Prepare for battle!
Here’s one doctor’s advice posted on WebMD:
Avoid spicy, greasy, or fatty meals. Don’t overeat. Drink plenty of water. Dry crackers and carbonated sodas (such as ginger ale) help some people avoid nausea. People who tend to have motion sickness may want to eat small, frequent meals.
TL: DR? Don’t stuff your face with Denny’s thinking that it’ll make you less sick before heading out. Eat a small meal.
2. Ginger is your new bestie.
Here’s what one study from the had to say about the use of ginger to combat nausea:
Ginger also prolonged the latency before nausea onset and shortened the recovery time after vection cessation…Ginger effectively reduces nausea, tachygastric activity, and vasopressin release induced by circular vection. In this manner, ginger may act as a novel agent in the prevention and treatment of motion sickness.
You hear that? It is a novel agent! Unlike my agent who refuses to shop my novel around. Sure, like there’s no market for novels about carsickness. SURE.
3. Sit yourself down in the best seat possible.
Scientific American describes why hitting up the backseat might not be the cool option, and that calling shotgun might be the solution to all your problems:
Consider the situation when one is reading in the back seat of a car. Your eyes, fixed on the book with the peripheral vision seeing the interior of the car, say that you are still. But as the car goes over bumps, turns, or changes its velocity, your ears disagree. This is why motion sickness is common in this situation. If you have this sort of reaction it is usually helpful to stop reading and look out the window. The driver of the car is generally least likely to suffer from motion sickness, because he not only has accurate sensory information from his ears, eyes and touch, but he is also controlling the car and can therefore anticipate turns, accelerations and decelerations.
4. Keep your eyes open.
Ever think to yourself that all your problems would just be solved if you could just close your eyes? Well, it’s just as dumb a philosophy when applied to motion sickness says Dr. Chandrasekhar:
Closing your eyes shuts off a very powerful override. If you open your eyes and focus, either on a single point in the distance, or focus as if you’re driving the car, you can actually override the incorrect interpretation of the ear input.
5. Rub your wrists together.
No, do it. My physics teacher once taught me that if you were feeling disoriented, rubbing your wrist can center yourself, and put your focus back in your body. Maybe it was a crock of sh*t, but rubbing your wrists together like you’re about to apply a ton of cologne might do the trick.
6. Lie to yourself.
Sorry Snape, but faking it until you make it totally works. A “verbal placebo” has been known to drastically reduce the amount of cases of seasickness in a study conducted with sailors. Basically, if you can be verbally convinced yourself you won’t get carsick, voila, you won’t get carsick.
7. Pleasant music and pleasant odors.
This one is pretty self explanatory. How are you going to NOT be carsick when your car smells like a dying animal and you’re listening to Insane Clown Posse on blast? Put on some Bach, and invest in that car freshener. At the very least, remove that dead animal from your car.