My children are not prone to car sickness, so I was wholly unprepared for the scene that unfolded last weekend as we drove home from wine country. Right as we started our drive, my son threw up all over himself and his car seat. Earlier in the day, he had told me he didn’t feel well, and we even left earlier than planned to accommodate him, but each time I ran through the checklist of possible ailments with him and asked if he needed to throw up, he confidently said, “No.”
Now, here we were. My husband made a quick turn into a driveway so we could deal with the situation, and I knew in a moment how unprepared we really were for it. We stripped him down and put his jacket on him for cover, patting ourselves on the backs for at least being good San Franciscans and always packing layers. Then, we MacGyvered a clean up using a half-full box of tissues, a bottle of water, and me wiping my hands on my own maxi dress. We drove away, windows down, with the knowledge that he was definitely going to puke again.
We made it home three additional pukes later and a commitment to my daughter that I would buy her a new monogrammed canvas tote bag after sacrificing it to the vomit Gods.
At home, after my son’s stomach bug passed and we thoroughly cleaned our car, I went about assembling a car puke kit, full of all the items I wish I’d had in the moment. Then, I made a short video explaining which items I packed and why, so you won’t make the same mistakes as me. That video got some really great feedback from veteran moms on what they have in their own personal car puke kits, and, taken together, you can think of us as the Ghost of Car Trip Future here to warn you of what will be, unless you make your car puke kit today.
In my kit:
- Plastic bags
- Paper towels
- Disinfecting wipes
- Upholstery/ carpet cleaner (for use after everyone’s out of the car)
- Beach towel
- Baby wipes
- Changes of clothes
- Hand sanitizer
More sage advice:
- Pack Children’s Dramamine if the culprit is motion sickness (safe for ages 2 and up, but always check with your doctor). The chewable tablets take thirty minutes to kick in and can be a lifesaver if you’re able to plan ahead.
- Instead of a large towel, pack two hand towels – one for cleaning your child and another for placing under them in the car seat (because you know that vomit is guaranteed to drip all over the seat)
- Keep extra bottles of water on hand in case rinsing something is easier and less messy than wiping.
- Line plastic bags with paper towels to help absorb the vomit and avoid it splashing back up at your poor kid’s face.
- Stash a roll of doggy poo bags and a pack of wipes in the back pocket of the seat. If your little one shows signs of getting sick, you’ll have quick access to try to contain the mess.
You may not be able to avoid a car sickness situation in the future, but you can at least be prepared for it. Happy travels!