Half Million Dollar Motion Sickness

Rolls Royce logo
Photo courtesy of Deposit Photos and Rolls Royce

In July of 2016, I drove a Rolls Royce for the first time. I was heading home to New Hampshire after a meeting of the New England Motor Press Association in Maine. I, and other members had dined on lobsters, blueberry pie and the best vanilla ice cream I had ever tasted. We sat on the lawn of a venerable Maine hotel overlooking the sea. It was classic and upscale. The guests of this hotel probably used the word “summer” as a verb.

The event organizer assigned me to take the Rolls Royce Dawn, a four-seat convertible, home for a week. The Dawn was in the running for the North American Car, Truck and Utility of the year award, and I’m on the jury. I slipped behind the wheel, dropped the top, and soon was wending my way home to New Hampshire on the kind of country roads movie location scouts dream about.

I was content. I was glowing. I was living my best life. I was also about 30 seconds away from throwing up in a car that was worth more than my house.

Because most people don’t have $550,000 to drop on a car (that was the MSRP of the Rolls I was driving) I am going to assume you’ve never been in a Rolls Royce. A signature of Rolls Royce is how smooth the ride of all their models is. It’s often called a magic carpet ride, and I guess it helps people not spill their Gray Poupon or something. It uses a self-adjusting suspension that Hagarty hilariously said can keep a smooth ride, “no matter what the road throws up.”

 Rolls Royce Dawn
Photo courtesy of Deposit Photos and Rolls Royce

In my experience behind the wheel of the Dawn, the road wasn’t going to throw anything up, but I was well on my way to doing just that.

Motion sickness has long been a problem for me. I have it, my mother has it, and I’ve passed it on to my daughter. When I was a kid, car seats weren’t required, but I rode in a booster seat until I was almost 12, because I was too short to see out of the window of the car and would get sick on a 15 minute ride to the grocery store otherwise.

I wish I could say that I overcame motion sickness to achieve my dream of being an automotive journalist, but in an ironic twist, being an automotive journalist keeps my car sickness in check. The easiest way for me to prevent it is to drive, and most test car contracts prevent my husband from getting behind the wheel.

There are other remedies besides driving that allegedly help with motion sickness. A 2003 clinical trial study published in the American Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology (don’t ever say I don’t do my research) found that ginger effectively reduced nausea caused by motion sickness. At least I think that’s what it said, I’m not a science journalist and just reading how they performed the test (they gave people ginger and spun them around) made me have to go get some fresh air. In my experience, all ginger does is give a ginger flavor to whatever comes up, ruining ginger ale for me forever.

The Mayo Clinic suggests taking an antihistamine containing dimenhydrinate, because I guess you can’t throw up if you're unconscious. They also suggest nibbling on crackers, which is a great solution if you enjoy cleaning partially digested crackers out of your car’s floor mats.

For me, there’s been really no prevention of motion sickness, only mitigation strategies. This is especially true since I’ve had kids, because my daughter has been more afflicted with motion sickness than I have. Both my husband and son have iron stomachs, to the point where my son has happily sat in the back seat munching donuts while his sister ralphs next to him.

That’s why we always carry plastic bags in any car we’re in. We store them right in the pocket of my daughter’s door, so she can whip them out as needed. On long trips, she sits with a beach towel covering her and a change of clothes easily accessible, in case she misses the previously mentioned puke bag. We also upgrade the bags for our long trips on winding roads. Instead of plain plastic bags, we take gallon-sized zippered freezer bags and line them with paper towels. The paper towels reduce splash-back and zipping the bags closed keeps the smell contained until we can throw them away. Boy, do we get the best looks at rest stops when we’re chucking three or four of those puppies into the trash can.

Of course, I didn’t have anything with me that day in the Rolls Royce. What I did have was 30 seconds to find a place to pull off, 3 seconds to shove the very long, very heavy doors of the Dawn open, and 2 seconds to aim away from the car because who knows what stomach acid does to the paint of a half-million dollar car? I repeated this entire process three more times on the drive home, taking that lobster I ate farther inland than it had ever been in its entire existence.

Maybe it wasn’t the Rolls. Maybe it was the revenge of the lobster, or the God of Blueberries was upset I didn’t eat more pie. All I know is that for the rest of the week I was testing the Rolls Royce Dawn, it was testing me. On the plus side, it had plenty of space for plastic bags.

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