How To Survive A Road Trip

Car rides have never been fun for me. I have a long-standing, no good, terrible history with motion sickness which has put a damper on any and all road trips since… always. When I was in elementary school, my friends’ parents pumped me full of what they thought to be fast remedies for motion sickness. Or sometimes they just grabbed a terrible idea out of the air for a quick fix so I wouldn’t throw up on their child. Or their car.

Here, drink this Sprite. It’ll help you feel better in no time.

Do you like peppermints? Eat one anyway. Mints are supposed to help with this kind’a stuff.

Does it help if I drive slower? Here I’ll slow it way down so you can see exactly what’s going by us out the window. That should help.

8 hours away from Oklahoma.
8 hours away from Oklahoma.

To this day I will not drink Sprite or eat peppermints, and for those of you out there with kids or friends who get repeated cases of motion sickness, do not drive unrealistically slow. It’s upsetting. Both physically and mentally.

I always assumed motion sickness was something I’d never get away from. Over the years, a countless amount of people have told me not to worry, because “motion sickness only decreases with age”. That certainly has not been the case for me and I roll my eyes at those people in the back of my mind each time nausea settles at the back of my throat. Luckily, our move to Vienna allowed me to take a nice pause from regular trips to nausea town. Though I did get famously sick there a couple of years ago, Vienna’s smooth public transportation has done me a lot of good, which… has actually turned out to be a double-edged sword.

Now that I’m back in the States for a time and hopping from state to state, I’m back to riding in cars. Everywhere. My auto-anxiety is through the roof and my motion sickness has returned in its full glory. Plus, I’m now what I consider to be “very pregnant” which makes traveling in a car for really any period of time extremely uncomfortable. I feel like a baby or toddler who demands to be out of its confining car seat, and when I can’t get out, then I get grumpy. I’m trying not to throw tantrums, but traveling 12 hours in a car, in a day, through a state like Kansas which has nothing interesting to look at save for, apparently, the world’s largest prairie dog, is quite the undertaking. I miss my trains!

Traffic. Every sickly car passenger's worst nightmare.
Traffic. Every sickly car passenger’s worst nightmare.

Since mid-May, I’ve been in the car for approximately 40 hours, not counting normal trips here and there within city limits. With another road trip coming up next weekend, and my motion sickness tendencies and pregnant wiggles in mind, here’s what I’m doing to pass the time and not totally lose my mind, as well as my stomach:

1. Podcasts

My favorites are Radiolab, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me!, and Prairie Home Companion. Radiolab is fascinating, Wait Wait is hilarious, and Garrison Keillor’s lullaby voice is enough to make anyone fall asleep. All three of these programs keep my mind off of my turning stomach which is a huge challenge in and of itself.

2. Playlists

Will is really spectacular at making awesome road trip playlists. I always try to find out how long they are before he plays them so I’m aware of how much time they’re shaving off of our trip. If I can sing along to something for two hours, then that’s two hours accomplished and gone.

3. Medicine

Dramamine has been my best friend up until now. Since my Austrian doctor, who’s been taking care of me throughout the pregnancy, doesn’t know what Dramamine is, she’s put me on something similar to it, which I can understand. But guys. This medicine is the worst. I liken it to rat poison, which I have never ingested, but if I were a rat and met my end while eating a slice of poisonous cheese, I’m positive it would taste like this stuff. Have you ever gotten a Dramamine pill stuck in your throat? You know how it immediately starts melting in your esophagus while you’re clawing for your water bottle to get the nasty taste out? You can’t drink enough of any liquid to cover that up. THAT, my friends, is my motion sickness medicine during my time stateside. It’s truly awful, but it gets me through the road trips well enough.

I’m throwing a party when I no longer have to take it and you’re all invited.

4. Ginger Ale/Water

Sprite never worked for me, but Ginger Ale does. It fights back a lot of the uneasiness going on in my stomach, and water cools me down. I drink both interchangeably and that seems to work.

5. AIR

If I get too hot in a car, I’m done for, even with medicine. If the A/C isn’t on, then my head is probably halfway out the window. Thankfully, these trips haven’t been too awfully hot which has allowed me to be somewhat at peace as we drive on the long-way road.

The look on my face during most road trips.
The look on my face during most road trips.

I think if I weren’t plagued by motion sickness, I’d enjoy road trips much, much more. But for now, I’m going to enjoy every moment with my feet planted on the ground (or propped up on the couch) as much as I can before our next road trip.

Do you get excited about road trips? Or do you despise them? What kinds of things, tricks, or remedies do you do to pass the time?

Linking-up with:


  1. Congratulations on your pregnancy! As for the motion sickness, for me it actually disappeared as I got older. Now I can even read in the car (before, just looking at the road signs would make me feel sick).

    1. Author

      Thank you! I’m incredibly envious of your motion sickness disappearance. At least I now know those people weren’t totally lying 😉

  2. I’ve always had issues with motion sickness. The only way for me to eliminate it was to be the driver instead of the passenger in the car. I drive everywhere now and prefer it that way. My husband doesn’t mind because he hates to drive. That’s so exciting that you’re expecting. Congrats!! Keep crackers in the car that helps too.

    1. Author


      That may be me in the coming years. The longer I go without driving, the more timid I am behind the wheel. This last time we went 15 months without needing a car so my husband has been doing most of the driving.

  3. I never had motion sickness, and I have to admit had really no patience for my little sister that was upchucking or gagging or getting to ride in the front seat all the time. It wasn’t fair! Luckily my kids never had motion sickness either, so I’ve been pretty lucky!

    1. Author

      Yeah, I pretty much have permanent dibs on the front seat. Sorry for me people like me and your sister 😉 I’m hoping my kids don’t get it either!

  4. I’m so sorry that you have to deal with such awful motion sickness! I’m thankful that I’m one of those people that’s never had to deal with it. But I’m glad you have some ways of helping to cope with it.

    1. Author

      Your sympathy is appreciated 🙂 I’m hoping maybe, someday, it’ll just disappear.

  5. Dear Holly,

    I am a television producer working on the US travel show ‘House Hunters International’. We are looking for English speaking expats who have moved to Vienna within the last 2 years or so… I wonder if you might like to share your story?

    House Hunters International is a half-hour TV show currently airing on the Home and Garden Television Network (HGTV) in America. The series is designed to de-mystify the international home-buying / renting process, by going behind the scenes of a house hunt where expats and their real estate agents tour 3 homes. At its core, House Hunters International is a travel show concentrating on the idiosyncrasies of the locales and what makes them special and different.

    Here are some links to show you what our show is all about!

    Here are some examples of the show that you can watch on Youtube:

    We would love to film in Vienna again so please get in touch if you might be interested in finding out more!

    Best wishes,


    Michelle James
    1-3 St Peter’s Street, London N1 8JD – +44 20 7704 3300

  6. I love road trips! When I was a kid I had no problems with motion sickness and would be able to read at the back of the car no problem. Now that I’m older, I seem to get motion sickness more and more. I agree ginger ale helps settle the stomach, but the biggest thing is air surprisingly. The worse is feeling sick and then having to sit in stifling heat. Ugh! I usually take Gravol which puts me to sleep and gets me through the worse of it. Good luck with your upcoming road trips!

    1. Author

      I agree air helps immensely. I think sometimes it’s a matter of getting enough air at the right time. If I get too hot for a split second, game over. But I’ve stuck my head out of a fair share of windows just to get by. Hoping your car sickness goes away!

    1. Author

      Your optimistic outlook on road trips gives me hope. Enjoy your adventures!

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