It’s A Freaking Christmas Miracle, You Guys!

Car sickness while reading is the bane of any bookworm’s existence.

For as long as I can remember I could not read in the car. I can read on a plane. I can read on a train or subway. But if I tried reading in the car I would get so incredibly carsick. As a child and tween, I would keep persevering and would whip out a book to read on the long car rides and after maybe 30 minutes to an hour I would inevitably be feeling queasy as hell and begging my mom to pull over (which she wouldn’t) so I could vom my cookies (which only happened maybe once). And every time, like after a really wretched hangover, I promised myself I’d never do it again. But I did. Until my teen years in which I finally just gave up. UNTIL THIS PAST WEEK.

It’s a freaking CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, y’all!

Let’s set the scene: Will gets offered to take a drive out to Pittsburgh for work on Labor Day (umm hello like double and triple time pay) to make a delivery to one of the sales guys that needed to get there. The best part — I get to go with him. Now it’s about a 5 1/2 hour drive each way so I knew I had to entertain myself SO I decided to bring a book and just give it a try and if I started to feel nauseous than I’d lay down. So we get on the turnpike and I crack open a book….and I was FINE the whole way. I kept giving myself little breaks to look up and talk to Will to perhaps help prevent the sickness but I read so much in that car ride that I finished the whole book! I don’t know if this means I will be able to do this forever (we were in a bigger truck — not my little car or Will’s car) but I was so stinking excited that I defeated Car Sickness.

I mean, my life would be so much better if I could read in the car all the time. I’d get so much reading done on my way to visit my dad who lives 4 hours away AND Will and I would fight less while he drives because I’d be occupied (I’m the worst backseat driver ever).

A little science lesson about reading in the car: Our brain uses our senses so that we know what our location is. Our inner ears and eyes are both used to do that. When you get car sick, it’s because those two are disagreeing with each other. Your eyes are fixated on the book and so your eyes think you are still but your ears and the rest of your body feel the movements of the car so they think you are in movement rather than still — the motion sickness is the response of this discrepancy between your body. (Source)

One optometrist suggests that  bookworms who want to read in the car do the following:

  • Slouch below the windows and hold the book at eye level.
  • Rest the reading material on your lap and block side views with your hands.
  • Turn your back to the window on your side of the vehicle, rest the book in your lap, and avoid looking out the window on the other side.
  • Read at night, with a light. When it’s dark outside you don’t see as much motion.

SO, dear friends, I’m curious…how many of you can read in the car? How many of you get car sick? Any tips for reading in the car for those of us who can’t do it?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 28 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating gelato, listening to music with oversized headphones and teaching her niece how to be as awesome as she is.

Comments

  1. HAHA this is a Christmas miracle, and one which I wish I could receive as well. I can’t even look at a map!

  2. Oh, how I wish I could read in the car. I even get car sick when my husband turns left too many times….
    So glad you’re able to read in the car!!!

  3. I can’t do it! I’m going to try these tips someday…maybe…or just keep listening to audiobooks. In related news, I can’t even swing on a swing set anymore without getting nauseous. It’s tough being an adult.

  4. I may have to try a few of those tips! I always had the same problem — I can read in any moving vehicle except a car…I can flip through a magazine OK, but I can’t focus on a book without getting an awful headache and that icky feeling in my stomach. I had basically given up and my husband and I started listening to books on tape, but then if we don’t finish a book on one trip, it takes us FOREVER for us to listen to the rest of it. If one of those tips works, maybe he can go back to listening to music and I can try reading again…after all there are only so many audiobooks we could agree on anyway!

  5. Ginger @ GReads! says:

    First of all, what book is that?! haha It sounds GOOD. I’ve been able to read in the car, sans motion sickness – but my problem is getting distracted too easily. I’ll read a few lines & then want to look up and check out the scenery, ha.

    • It’s The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna!

      And I totally am the same way sometimes…but we were driving on the most boring highway ever…nothing but trees.

  6. I can only read on trains and not every day. I even get carsick on the bus even when I take a look at my iPod to switch to another singer!

  7. I get terribly motion sick when I try to read in the car, even now at age 27. My solution is audiobooks. Not quite the same, but… it’s still a book. :)

  8. I’m very lucky, and can read to my hearts content in the car. I can get carsick, sometimes, but it had nothing to do with reading.

    That’s great that you were able to read in the car this time, though! I think it might have helped that you were in a bigger vehicle. I know someone who gets car sick frequently (reading or not), and she does better in cars that bigger, and farther from the ground.

    I’m a fairly new follower, so I don’t know your thoughts on audiobooks, but have you ever given them a try?

  9. I used to get terrible carsick and could never even think about reading. I feel sick all the time now, car rides only ever make the nausea worse but I’ll be sure to remember this for future reference.

    P.S – That is AWESOME news. Yay for reading in a car! Woot :D

  10. Woohoo! That is awesome.

    When I was a kid, I never had trouble, but now I do :( I’ll have to try some of those tips and see if they help.

  11. That is awesome! A Christmas (Labor Day?) miracle indeed. I am so jealous right now.
    I have never been able to read in the car. I get extremely sick. I get motion sick if I read a book, play sudoku, play a gameboy, read a text message, check the directions, search for something that fell on the floor for too long, or do anything except look out the window. Sometimes I get sick just because I’m sitting in the back seat of a small car. I get sick on cars, buses, trains, swings, and basically anything else (except airplanes). If I get motion sick I will stay that way for the rest of the car trip no matter what I do or how long I am in the car. It’s utterly hopeless.

    • I have the same problem. See if they’ll let you have the front seat. It helps. Most people would rather sit in the back than let someone suffer from carsickness.

      Also, keep the car cool, take deep breaths, and look at the horizon.

  12. I usually get car sick. Especially when my dad drives (I don’t need to read for that). But from time to time some miracle happens and I am able to read in the car. So I figured I just have to try and stop when I feel sick.
    But seriously, what book is that? :)

    • It’s The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna! So good! Haha I hate driving with people that make me car sick without me reading! Guess you and I just have to embrace when we CAN read in the car!

  13. That’s fantastic!!
    I never suffered from car sickness but my mom always did and I remember always feeling so bad for her because she couldn’t read when we do the marathon drives from Canada to Florida or New Hampshire or wherever.

  14. Brandy Corona says:

    I’ve never had a problem reading in the car. But my mom and sisters CANNOT do it AT ALL!! I am blessed!!

  15. I can read in the car no problem. I have never gotten car sick from doing it. I have no idea why. I find it hard to read on a plane though. I get distracted easily on a plane for whatever reason.

  16. I have never in my life gotten carsick, ever. I also never get sick on rides or anything.

    My tip? Stomach of steel?! Lol.

  17. I definitely can’t read in the car, it makes me super nauseous. I can read on a plane, though since it doesn’t seem like you are moving quickly. That’s awesome you were able to beat car sickness. I can’t even read a small pamphlet without getting queasy!

  18. I used to be a champ at reading in the car, but in the last five years or so, I can’t do it anymore. It is still difficult for me to swallow not being able to read in the car. I am definitely trying the tips you gave. Thanks!

  19. I get SO car sick when I try to read in the car! Like you, I’m totally fine on a plane or train – even a bus. But in a car, I can’t even look down at my phone for more than a minute before I start to feel sick. Thanks for the tips… I feel like the slouching thing just might work! I’ll have to try it.

  20. I get SO carsick when I read in the car. I get carsick even when I don’t read in the car, sometimes. I can’t read on public transportation, either.

    My trick? Audio books. They don’t go as quickly as reading on paper, but, if I’m a passenger, I can close my eyes, lean back, and just listen. If I’m the driver (and I usually am, to keep from getting carsick), I can still read.

    There are a few things that mitigate carsickness for me if I do want to read in a moving vehicle. If I can keep from looking up from my book, I can usually avoid getting sick. This requires a lot of cooperation on the part of the driver and passengers, though. People can’t say, “Oh, look!” or ask for help with directions. As I also have to sit in the front seat, that’s often difficult.

    Another factor is temperature. If I’m hot, I’m almost certainly going to feel nausea. The air conditioning should be on, and my air vents need to be open. If it’s cold out, once the car is a decent temperature, turn the heat off, or turn down the temperature.

    Last is scents. Air freshener, perfume, or any other artificial smell will make me more sensitive to nausea, so throw that thing hanging off your mirror out the window, passengers can’t soak in their favorite scent, and the car should be reasonably clean. Food scents are fine, oddly, so any strong scent can be overwhelmed by packing something delicious for the road.

    It sounds like I’m a fussy passenger, and I’m really not. I just always bring my iPod, loaded with an audio book or two, and headphones if no one else wants to listen. Or, I just do the driving, and find a book everyone wants to listen to. When I drove with my parents to Tennessee, it was the first two October Daye books.

  21. Awesome. I used to try to read in the car as a kid but queasy every time. I’m usually the one driving these days so I bring books on CD to listen to. Good tips in case I ever get a break from the driving.

  22. I don’t usually get carsick when I read but I do have to be slouched down below the window. I also take breaks and make sure that I have ginger ale or anise bears just in case I do start to feel a bit queasy.

  23. When I was a kid I would get soooooooooo incredibly car sick from trying to read. I tried it a couple of years ago when I was going to AL (12 hours from where I’m at) . I had taken some anti-nausea pills since I tend to get car sick if I haven’t eaten anything in a while. I could magically read after that, but only for certain stretches of time and without looking out windows. However, I think I’ll try some of your tips next time, so I don’t need to buy the pills. I think Dramamine (I’m not sure how you spell it) which is used for dizziness also reduces the sickness.

    It also helps if I’m not in a car with “jerky” drivers. Not jerks in the sense of being rude, but they’ll take turns to fast, constantly adjust speeds, change lanes abruptly. Anything that really upsets the smoothness of the ride is not good. And as one comment said above, there can’t be strong smells in the car. I have a really sensitive nose so perfumes, fresheners, even hand sanitizers are out of the question.

  24. I’ve never actually given this much though! I read a whole book on my Nook from Michigan to Kentucky and it was fine! It really makes the road trip a whole bunch less arduous. By the way, I just pictured you right now with a book in your lap and hands forming blinders on each side of your face <3 hahahah!

  25. Aaah, you’re so lucky! I can’t read in the car at all. I get sick in like, a minute. I can go slightly longer on the bus, but same result. Planes are fine, though. Exception: my grandparents’ car. It’s a hybrid, and is the smoothest driving thing ever. I can sit in the backseat and read just fine. Weird.

  26. I have just the opposite problem. I have never had any problem reading in a car or any means of transport, except the plane. The last time I put out my book, thinking: I’m going to read this book, just relax and I am not going to think that this plane is just about to crash, just reeelax. And then, it’s that a turbulence or an engine exploding??? aaaaaaah we’re going to diiiie, I don’t want to diiie. Yeah, that kind of thing :)

  27. I can sometimes read in the car, but honestly if the roads are hilly or windy enough, I get carsick without a book. That happened once in Scotland when my brother insisted on driving only on back roads. If the road is pretty flat and I don’t feel obligated to entertain the driver, though, I may curl up with a book. More often I just fall asleep.

  28. I’m so happy for you! It seems like your car trips will be much more fun from now on.
    I am extremely lucky in this department. I have always been able to read on trains, subways and cars. Fun fact: reading actually helps me to avoid car sickness. I know it sounds strange, but I think that staring at a fixed point (book) inside the car helps me avoid the motion sickness I get while watching out the window s at the moving landscape. I’m not sure why this happens since the information you just posted says I should be having the opposite reaction, but I’m just glad it does. I get so much reading done while traveling!

  29. I was always the kid in the backseat who was trying to read with the light from the headlights of the cars behind us. My dad would not allow lights on in the car. No problems with motion sickness, though.

  30. this is something I have had an issue with recently.. I knew I got carsick while reading so I avoided it, however.. I spend a lot of time in the car for work, so I was getting annoyed that I was losing valueable reading time! And I have come to find out that if I begin reading before we begin to drive and well I don’t stop mid read and look out the car and go back to reading.. that I wont get carsick.. other than that, I WILL get carsick.

  31. I’ve always been lucky, and never suffered from car sickness. As a little girl, I used to pack a bag of books on road trips and my parents would always joke that they’d be pointing out something interesting on the road (like wildlife) to which I would respond, “I’ll look after I finish this chapter!” I missed out on seeing many, many sights because I permanently had my nose buried in a book in the back seat.

    BUT, with that being said, I’m now four months pregnant and, for the first time in my ENTIRE LIFE, I now get car sick. My husband and I recently drove from BC to Alberta (about 1,000 km) and we had to stop once an hour because I was feeling queasy. I was still able to read though, in smaller doses, since I was reading a book out loud to him while he drove. I did find that, whenever I looked up from the book and out onto the road, the queasiness would get worse, so there’s a lot of truth in what you posted. Here’s hoping that, after the baby’s born, I regain my road trip stomach of steel =P

  32. I get car sick even if there’s no reading involves…sigh. I have figured out in the last couple of years that I can read some if we’re driving on the freeway or a very straight highway. The only problem is I live in the mountains and most of our traveling involves very curvy mountain roads. Oh well. :) I’m happy that you might have beat the car sickness!

  33. That’s really cool, I hope that car sickness stays away forever! I’ve never ever been carsick, and reading in the car is one of my favorite things. I’m just lucky I guess.

  34. I would LOVE to be able to read in cars! Esp since I’m currently in Chicago and it’s a three hour drive back. I’ve tried reading in cars before but I usually get nauseated. I really love the tips you included in the post thing so I’ll be sure to try it out. I’m glad you’re able to read in cars now, so jealous!

  35. That is a wonderful miracle!! I can’t read in the car either :( I actually get extremely nauseous if I don’t look out the front window and watch where the car is going. The larger vehicle may have helped, but I hope you are just plain cured!

  36. THIS SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME.
    It was the best day.

  37. This was me too! I think Im outgrowing it! And that makes me so happy! Mostly because I dont get nauseous… Id be reading either way!

  38. I can NOT read in a car and I would LOVE THIS SUPERPOWER!! My brother can and I hate him for it!! I seriously travel to Pennsylvania A LOT and it would be so amazing if I could overcome this illness! I have inner ear problems so alas, I fear I will never get over it. I AM SO JEALOUS OF YOU!!

  39. WOOHOO, that is exciting! I am the same way – no problems reading on the train, plane, or even a bus. But a car… forget about it. I get two pages in and want to puke. I’m going to have to try a few of those tricks the next time I’m in a car :)

  40. Oh man, I can’t even read my phone in the car and I feel sick if we make too many swerves or turns- it is only relieved if I get out or am the driver. ugh.

  41. I’m not able to read anything in the car. I’m not able even to look down for too long before feeling sick :)

  42. I can read until my eyes fall out of my head, but I can’t eat an icecream cone on road trips.

    PS What were you reading because I am completely hooked reading the page pictured!

  43. I think I was in high school before I figured out that not everyone could read in the car. Now I know I am a rarity. That is when I get so much reading done. Or shall I say I used to. Since getting married, my hubby (who is normally very quiet) has decided he just LOVES to chat in the car when I am trying to read! Silly hubby!

  44. When I was younger I COULD NOT read in the car (except for this ONE time on our way home from Oregon when I read an entire book the whole 9 hrs home. I think I must have been really, really into that book or something…). Other than that, I used to get insanely carsick (even when I wasn’t reading, we would frequently have to pull over so I could… umm… yeah). As I got older though, carsickness became less and less frequent. Now I get nauseous (that’s a hard word btw) very rarely, BUT I still cannot read in the car very often. Sometimes I can, but I haven’t quite determined the reason yet. Perhaps I will try some of those tricks you’ve posted! I like the blocking of my periphery idea. :) And actually I have noticed it’s easier for me to read at night in the car… hmmm….

    Anyways, here’s hoping your newfound joy of reading in the car lasts for the long term! *clink*

  45. I’ve never been able to read in the car either. Even if I’m just reading texts or e-mails on my phone, I start getting nauseous. I’m glad that you’re able to now! :D Maybe I’ll be next! lol

  46. This happened to me too! I used to get so motion sick when I tried to read in cars as a kid so I would never do it, I would just sleep instead. I’ve found I can read while the car’s in motion now that I’m older but the problem now is that getting in cars automatically makes me sleepy, haha. Also, whatever you’re reading sounds awesome!

  47. That is so awesome! Glad it worked for you. I have had the same problem most of my life. But I’m thinking about trying again with these tips. Bring on the road trips!

  48. I actually just got home from a 6-hour car ride, and read the whole time, as long as the roads aren’t windy and i look up occasionally im ok!!

  49. Strangely I get sick in the car but not on the bus. I can read a little if I sit in the front of the car but not at all in the back.

    Really don’t understand it

  50. I love this post, and I really enjoyed the science lesson! I had no idea! I never used to be able to read in the car, but I can do it with ease now. I’m not sure what changed…

  51. Oh I’m so jealous! I could read in the car perfectly well when I was a kid (and did every time we got in the car, even for a 2 minute journey). Sadly, this ability has now left me and all forms of transport seem to be out – so inconvenient for my boredom and my reading list! Congratulations to you!

    My mum recommended keeping the book at eye level, and this sometimes works for me. Will definitely be testing out some of the tips here…

  52. I could not even make it through a pamphlet in the car, let alone a book. My mom can read to her heart’s content in the car and I always wish I’d gotten that trait from her! I’ve pretty much given up—someday I may get brave and try a few of these tips and tricks, but only on a day that I’ve got some anti-nausea pills handy!

  53. I get very car sick and always throw up. I also always read in the car (and always have, even as a child). Things that help (many other people have already noted some):
    -Sitting in the front seat. Sometimes I can read without medicine if I’m in the front seat.
    -Automatic cars. Manual is less smooth and can make me car sick without reading.
    -Cars that let you sit higher up. A friend of mine had a manual Camaro – I got sick every time I rode in it. It surprises me to see people saying you should slouch down or look only at the book – I get ill more often if I can’t see out the windows and less often when surrounded by windows.
    -Dramamine. It can make you very drowsy and I often doze off when I’ve taken it (and I’m not driving). A more preferable option for me is Bonine, which is chewable and causes less drowsiness. I don’t take long car trips anymore without taking something anti-nausea.

  54. I usually get car sick but mostly when I am sitting in the back seat. I feel a little sick sometimes when I read in the car but I usually push through it since it is the only time I get any reading done during the school week.

  55. Great post:) No matter what I do, I always get sick when I read a book in a car, but maybe, one day, I’ll try some of the mentioned tips, but I highly doubt it will help:D Reading in train is OK, but a book and car or bus? Not a good idea.

  56. I still have trouble even reading and writing text messages in the car (while a passenger, not while driving, of course!) but I will try holding the phone straight out in front of me next time! I’ll look strange, but it would be worth it if it works!

  57. As a kid, I never had problem reading in the car. Maybe it’s because I couldn’t see out the windows and followed some of these tips without realizing it. :) Now though, I can’t do it at all. I can read on trains and planes, but not cars. Now I just avoid long car trips in general when possible. :)

  58. I’ve always been one of those people who can read anywhere, and that definitely includes cars (which my mother was grateful for, because it meant I would shut up and not make a peep on long car trips). I don’t get car sick at all, although sometimes I do get headaches!

    I think my tips are: (1) take mini-breaks, which often helps, (2) definitely don’t read facing/looking out the window and (3) hold the book at eye level. They always work for me!

  59. I am going to TRY these things. I usually last about 20 minutes before starting to feel nauseous. But it would be SO nice to be able to read on road trips!

  60. I’ve been reading in cars my entire life. When I lived at home we lived out in the middle of freaking nowhere. So, whenever my mom needed to go to town for something (groceries, doctor appointment, visit my grandma, etc) we had a 30 minute one-way drive in store. You can imagine this happened pretty often as a kid and there was no way in heck this little bookworm was missing out on all that reading time.
    I never really had a problem with reading in the car (and this is also coming from the girl who’s been on, let’s say 20 major family vacations in her life and only one of them involved flying). For some reason over the past year I’ve been starting to have some car sickness issues. I don’t even have to be reading for it to come up. I’ll definitely keep those tips in mind next time I’m car-reading, though. Thanks for those :]
    Also, congrats on your newly discovered non-sickness.
    Also, also, sorry for the really long comment :P

  61. That is amazing. I used to read so much in the car when I was little and when I turned about 14-15, I couldn’t do it any more, it made me so ill. But a very happy miracle for you!

  62. I have never been able to read in the car, but I’ll admit, I’m hesitant to try it again. I don’t like the sick feeling!

    Christine

  63. Jessica Alin says:

    Reading in the dark with a light worked!!!
    I was just on my trip back home to Miami from Tenessee for winter break (12-hour ride), and I started reading during the night with a light. I was hesitant to read becuase I hate feeling sick, and we wanted to make as little stops as possible, so I didn’t want to have to pull over. However, I was able to read perfectly fine–I was so happily surprised! Also, I noticed I can read on big busses (like the Greyhound ones); it makes sense because you don’t feel movement as much on those. Either way, thanks for the tips and I’m so glad to share to be able to share in this miracle!

  64. I can only read for a little while before I feel sick or get a headache so I listen to audio books on my iPod instead. I actually get carsick if I don’t face the direction the vehicle is traveling in too so some of the suggestions wouldn’t work for me.

  65. I know this was posted a million years ago, but:

    I’m gonna have to try blocking my view of the windows. I’ve had super horrible motion sickness for as long as I can remember. Not just in cars, either. I used to take Dramamine for my motion sickness woes, but it’s seems to have stopped working.
    I was driving back from a trip to see my family and was able to read in the car for, like, the first time ever. Alas, I had also taken my sister-in-law’s strong after-surgery stomachache medicine. Can’t win ‘em all. (haha)

  66. In the car is where I get most of my reading done! I went on a trip across Canada with my family a couple years ago, brought a whole suitcase full of books, and would read them for hours, especially when we reached Saskatchewan and Manitoba and everything got flat flat flat.

  67. I am still young, so I am terrified to lose my blessing of an ability I have always had to be able to read in the car without getting sick. I hope I never lose this ability, because it is literally the only way I can survive a car ride or a road trip. Plus, it’s how I read most of the books I read! I blow through books like you wouldn’t believe in the car. I probably would have read almost half of the books I’ve ever read if I couldn’t read in the car. What I hate though, is when you are trying to read and people have talk radio or rock blaring in the car. I usually turn on Pandora or Songza and try and play some reading music, classical music, just really anything else. However, I found something that works even better. If you put ear plugs in your ears, and then cover those with those headphones that actually go over your head and completely cover your ears. It completely keeps out the noise and you can read in peace!

  68. I generally get carsick when I read, but this Thanksgiving, I spent at least 36 hours in a moving vehicle, and I had some tricks up my sleeve. 1. I listened to audiobooks. 2. I read a book on my tablet, which was not a problem even when it got dark, and for some reason, didn’t make me queasy. Who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth?!

  69. I get very car sick during reading. Ugh. When I was a kid in the backseat I could read all the time on long trips, but no more.

    I did notice that in my dad’s truck when I was in the backseat I didnt get car sick reading. I think it’s so dark in the back (hardly any windows), and he has one of those uber nice expensive, smooth riding trucks, where it hardly feels like you’re riding.

    I don’t think I’ll try the hands over the ears trick – sounds uncomfortable and I can imagine how I’d look!, but the slouching may help.

  70. I am the optometrist you quoted regarding tips on how to read in a car. These tips almost always work, but there is one additional one that works, as well. One can read even without slouching down below the level of the window if they hold the reading material, including electronic devices, up at eye level, so the line of sight is horizontal, aiming straight ahead. It could get tiresome after a short time, but it does work. It’s all about WHERE your eyes are aiming, and not about WHAT you are looking at. I a written study of all the 1,200 students in a high school and found that 50% of the female and 20% of the male students could not read in a car (read – LOOK DOWN) without headache, nausea, fatigue or dizziness.
    Go to “Read In A Car without Headache, Nausea or Dizziness” on Youtube for video instructions and information. For in-depth information about motion sickness go to SEEsicksyndrome.com

Trackbacks

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