‘Dad, I feel sick!’ Curse of the cruise to holiday heaven

  • Easter traffic could be sickening for millions
  • Passengers staring at a screen felt ill in 10 minutes
  • Youngsters, teens worst affected – as are goldfish
car sickness pos 1
IT COULD START WITHIN 10 MINUTES: Car motion-sickness can come on quickly, especially if watching a video or if Dad is not driving smoothly. Image: Ford / Newspress

COLOGNE, Germany – Guaranteed to strike fear into the heart of any car-driver is the plaintiff cry from the back seat: “I feel sick!”

“It will,” according to a survey commissioned by Ford Europe, “be chorused in cars across Europe – and South Africa – shortly when millions of families head of by road for the Easter holiday.”

Stop-start traffic and winding roads will affect two-thirds of the population at some point, the survey says. It’s most prevalent among children and teenagers and, unfortunately, is more likely when sitting in the rear of a car.

car sickness pos 2
‘DADDY, I’M FEELING SICK!’ Image: Newspress

Being head-down over a game console, cellphone or tablet makes things worse. So does watching a movie. People can be affected within 10 minutes of setting off on holiday.


Eike Schmidt, a research engineer with Ford in Aachen, Germany, told The Corner in a media release: “Car sickness can turn an eagerly awaited family trip into a nightmare with mum and dad looking nervously over their shoulders and fearing the worst.

“Comfort is important – we want to do everything we can to reduce travel nausea.”

Yawning and perspiring are warning signs for a condition caused, we were told, by a mismatch of information sent to the brains from the eyes and balance organs – but doesn’t affect babies – probably because they have not learned to use balance to walk.

Pets – even goldfish – can be affected, according to sailors.

READ MORE holiday features on Carman’s Corner

Dr Jelte Bos from Perceptual and Cognitive Systems in The Netherlands reports: “Car-sickness is a complex problem – a natural reaction to unnatural stimuli – and cannot be cured.

car sickness pos 3

“We can, however, alleviate the symptoms.”

Passengers who keep their head up – perhaps by mounting a video screen higher – and can see the passing scenery on each side of the car were less likely to be nauseous.


Further experiments will seek ways to warn of twisting roads. Bos added: “Adopting a smoother driving style goes a long way towards reducing feelings of nausea – and reduces fuel-consumption.”

Nevertheless, here are some suggestions for avoiding discomfort right from the start of what The Corner hopes will be your great family holiday:

  • Sit in the middle of the rear seat to be able to view the road ahead.
  • Ask dad to drive smoothly, to avoid sudden braking, harsh acceleration and potholes.
  • Distract sufferers – a family singalong could help and even be fun.
  • Drink cola, eat ginger biscuits, avoid coffee.
  • Use a pillow or head support to keep your head as still as possible.
  • Run the air-conditioning to keep cool fresh air circulating.

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