Motion sickness: travelling with the family

Dean Mellor Motion sickness

HAVE you ever been carsick? I was once, when I was about 15 years of age.

I was in the back of my brother’s BMW 2002 as he hooked it through the twisties somewhere west of Grafton in northern NSW, after a fantastic weekend away kayaking on the Nymboida River.

Well, maybe I should say it was fantastic up until the ‘incident’. Unfortunately for my brother – and for his BMW – I was seated in the backseat of the little two-door Teutonic sports car, and he was unable to pull up quick enough to let me out before a vile eruption occurred.

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I haven’t experienced carsickness since. My wife Renata, on the other hand, succumbs to this dreaded affliction on a reasonably regular basis. The worst such occurrence was when we were driving through the mountains in central Sicily a few years ago.

The road was superb, with a billiard-table-smooth surface and lovely tight corners interconnected by short straights, and as we climbed higher and higher into the hills we were surrounded by pretty wildflowers that lit up the fields like a kaleidoscope.

Motion-sick.jpgFortunately, my wife wasn’t seated in the back of our two-door rent-a-car (a turbo-diesel Fiat Punto, from memory), so I had plenty of time to pull over and stop for her to alight and ‘smell the flowers’ on the side of the road.

These days, our daughter Delilah is prone to bouts of carsickness. Now she’s a bit of a daredevil; at just six years of age she’ll happily jump aboard the Wild Mouse at Luna Park, or loudly protest if she’s deemed not yet tall enough to go on some of the ‘bigger’ rides. But put her in the backseat of the car and she’ll complain of feeling carsick before I’ve even backed out of the driveway.

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So as you can imagine, it was with some trepidation that I prepared for our most recent family four-wheel drive adventure to the far reaches of outback NSW.

By the time I’d loaded up the Navara with all our ‘stuff’, it was pretty well packed solid.

While Renata and I had plenty of room up front, the backseat of the D22 Navara is hardly spacious, and Delilah had to share it with our dog Jethro, at least until we could drop him off with my parents who were holidaying in the Snowy Mountains.

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Our doggie’s special holiday with Nana and Granddad meant we’d have to take a big detour south on our way to the northwest of the state, through some of the most twisting blacktop in the country, and I wasn’t feeling all that confident we’d make it through without a carsick ‘incident’.

So we took precautions – we minimised junk food, limited time on the iPad, opened the windows regularly, and I backed right off the go-pedal when driving through the twisty stuff.

Motion-Sickness.jpgIt worked! Not a problem on day one, even as we drove along the Snowy Mountains Highway from Cooma to Adaminaby. And no problems on our big 800km day two, which saw us continue through the twisties, over the top of Australia to Tumut, and then on to an overnighter in Mildura.

The drive from Mildura to Broken Hill was plain sailing on day three, as was day four’s little trip north to Eldee Station via Silverton NSW.

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We did all sorts of off-road driving at Eldee. While there were shrieks of terror from the backseat as we climbed up rocky tracks into the Barrier Ranges or bounced along the sandy creek bed, there were never any complaints of carsickness.

Thankfully, no acts of carsickness either. Bearing this in mind, I thought I’d push my luck on the way home, so we detoured via Menindee, Ivanhoe and Hillston (over several hundred kilometres of gravel roads) on our way back to the Snowy Mountains to pick up the dog. Somewhat surprisingly, it was again not a problem.

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By the time we rolled into our driveway after 10 days away, we’d covered 3070km of ‘incident-free’ driving. I was overjoyed, thinking we’d finally seen the back of the dreaded carsickness.

The following weekend we took a short 65km drive up to the Southern Highlands. I reckon we’d rounded about four or five bends on the twisty Macquarie Pass before both Renata and Delilah started to feel crook. I backed right off for fear of another ‘incident’.

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