Over-the-counter options include Dramamine, which has recently introduced chewable tablets in grape flavor, and can be used by children 2 and older. It treats nausea and vomiting, and also may cause drowsiness. “If you’re asleep, you don’t get motion sick,” Furman said. “Eyes are closed, the brain circuitry shuts down.” Bonine, which can be used by those 12 and older, is an antihistamine that can also tackle nausea and other symptoms of motion-related illness. Mounsey, who was an author of a recent review of research, said that antihistamines like Zyrtec and Allegra won’t alleviate motion sickness.
Most drugs work best if ingested an hour before travel, though a scopolamine patch must be worn at least four hours in advance. But that time frame might change in the future. With U.S. Navy medical researchers, NASA’s Johnson Space Center developed a scopolamine nasal spray that can deliver a fast-acting remedy for motion sickness. NASA also worked with a pharmaceutical company to create nasal gel to treat, er, space sickness. “It gets into the bloodstream quickly,” said Capt. Rita Simmons of the Naval Medical Research Unit in San Antonio, who worked with Lakshmi Putcha, the chief pharmacologist at NASA. “Side effects are almost zero.” In October, NASA and Epiomed Therapeutics of Irvine, Calif., signed an agreement to commercialize a nasal spray to fight motion sickness so in the future a squirt of scopolamine midflight might make those paper bags tucked in the seat pocket unnecessary.
Ginger has been shown to prevent nausea associated with motion sickness, so pack powdered-ginger capsules, crystallized ginger or even ginger Altoids. Some motion-sickness sufferers wear acupressure bands, which have a plastic stud that has to be positioned correctly on the inner wrist, to help keep nausea at bay. But evidence proving their efficacy is mixed. Still, at $10 or less each (Sea-band, for instance) there’s little downside to trying them, and if they work for you, they are reusable.
IF ALL ELSE FAILS
Occasionally, no amount of strategizing can prevent the inevitable. “Different kids have different degrees of sensitivity to motion sickness,” Spiegel said. “If you have a kid who is really sensitive, you want to be careful what you feed them, and match the upholstery of the car. Sometimes nothing you do helps.”
Or there’s the Hurl-e, also known as the CarSik bib, which is a hands-free bag for those who may succumb to vomiting. Costing $10.74 for a six-pack, bags have a strap so they can be worn like a bib, and make cleaning up a cinch. A YouTube video about the CarSik bib touts its virtues this way: “Drive with peace of mind knowing that if your child gets carsick it will stay clean and dry and you won’t have to deal with the mess.”