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Sick in a Rental Car – Tips to Avoid Travel Sickness

Travel sickness, or motion sickness as it’s officially known is an unpleasant condition where you’ll likely experience one or more of the following symptoms;
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Vertigo
  • Nausea
  • Nausea-induced vomiting (car sickness)
Motion sickness isn’t limited to feeling sick whilst travelling in a car, it's far reaching and falls under many names such as being carsick, airsick, seasick. Whatever you call it, being sick in a rental car is an unpleasant experience and potentially a costly one.

sick in a rental car

A recent trip back from the Dordogne in France to Toulouse Airport led to 2 episodes of car sickness, one from each of my daughters travelling in the back. The first stop came without warning, luckily when we pulled into a safe place on a country road, the vast majority of the projectile was caught in the lap, a quick change, bag up of sick-covered clothes, wipe down and we were back on the road. 10 miles or so later, stop number 2 on a busier road, however just minutes from joining the toll roads in France gave us time to stop in a safe place for a sickly experience on the verge rather than in the car itself. Luckily neither of our episodes resulting in sick in the rental car which could have led to a car hire cleaning bill of up to 120 EUR in France with Avis / Budget or 135 EUR with Europcar! If you are sick in a rental car, it’ll almost certainly answer your question as to whether you need to wash a rental car or not!

travel sickness hire car

Tips to help with travel sickness when renting a car

Thankfully, there are some tips to help avoid getting travel sickness which could save you an unfortunate road side stop and car hire cleaning fee! The following things might help you, or your children avoid getting car sick;
  • Minimise motion – not easy in a car of course, try to drive smoothly and avoid sudden acceleration, braking and cornering
  • Look at a fixed point, ideally the horizon, not so easy for back seat passengers admittedly
  • Open a window and try to breath fresh air, whilst air conditioning will keep you cooler, nothing beats good old fresh air when trying to combat travel sickness
  • Close your eyes and try to breath slowly, you’ll miss the scenery but it might save a sickly incident
  • Distraction techniques such as conversion, listening to music or a good old road trip singalong might help
  • Break up a long journey with short stops, hope out of the car, stretch the legs and get some fresh air
  • Ginger is supposed to help settle the stomach, grab a packet of gingernuts

What causes travel sickness and how to avoid

Whilst the general motion of the body is the cause of motion or travel sickness which is largely unavoidable when travelling in a rental car, a few things can help you alleviate the symptoms of travel sickness;
  • Don’t read – avoid books, reading maps where possible, try using Google maps or Sat Nav, but check your free data allowance first!
  • Try not to look at moving object, passing cars etc
  • Avoid a big meal before setting off, not only will a full stomach be more susceptible to travel sickness, a the results could take a lot more cleaning up!

What to do if you are sick in a rental car?

Whilst the above will hopefully help, if the inevitable happens and you or a passenger is sick in a rental car, you should try to minimise contact with the fabrics of the rental car and wash as best you can. Pull over where safe to do and put on your hazard warning lights, try to get the sickly passenger out of the car and away from the road as quickly as possible. If there is sick in the car and you're unable to clean it sufficiently or are on your way to the airport and pushed for time, be prepared for car hire cleaning charge!
Chloe Demaret
Posted: June 05, 2019 by Chloe Demaret
About the Author -

Travel writer, social media guru, Chloe keeps our readers and customers up to speed with all the car rental and travel trends on our blog. Favourite destination: Dubai.

Last updated: Sunday, February 4, 2024
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