Everybody Barfs: Tips to Surviving Vacation Vom

It was the last 20 minutes of our four-week trip—the drive from the airport to our home—when I exclaimed, “We did it! I can’t believe it! Four weeks in a foreign country and no one got sick.” I’ve had a kid lose her cookies on every trip. EVERY TRIP FOR 12 YEARS! Whether its been a three-day weekend or six-week journey, someone has always barked at the carpet.

Half my kids (2 of the 4) responded, “What are you talking about? WE barfed.”


“Well…true. But just a little.” I said. These recent episodes were forgettable when compared to surviving a raging strain of Rotavirus with six purging kids under age eight in Guatemala while pregnant. I continued, “Plus, you never had a fever and you didn’t slow us down.” No doctor visits. No days in bed. This time it seemed like no big deal. After all, I didn’t actually clean it. Normally, I’d feel embarrassed about the mess, empathize with my kids, and do everything I could to make the bad situation better. But this time, I jumped reflexively into the hotel shower in the middle of the night with puking Pippa. A quick rinse, and we climbed into a spare bed. The next morning, the soiled bedding went straight to the hotel laundry.

The other mishap also happened in the middle of the night. I thought about cleaning up the hork. Really, I did. Then, the following thoughts spontaneously occurred to me:

  • I’m exhausted. Maybe I can deal with it better tomorrow.
  • I’m sleeping in a separate room anyway.
  • I can make a roadblock. The other girls won’t step into anything. If they do, they’ll instantly raise our family barf percentage from 33.3% to much, much higher. No, it’s OK.  I can just block this section of the floor with these spare pillows and go back to bed.
  • I’m going to hurl if I stay here a moment longer.
  • Housekeeping has seen worse, right? Much worse.

I helped my little one brush her teeth and tucked her back in bed. Then I promptly left the room. Since John slept through the whole ordeal, and his Spanish is much better than mine, I nominated him to inform the hotel staff and apologize.


Moments before we started to cry from seasickness.

Nausea can come on quickly in the case of motion sickness. It can linger for days. In case you get stuck with the task of cleaning up Chuck, here are a few tips:

  1. Travel with a large Ziploc bag. Always. Extra credit for practicing vomit containment drills.
  2. If you’re debating renting or bringing a car seat, just remember, you won’t care so much about Budget Rent-A-Car’s seat if your kid liquidates it.
  3. Try to lie down and sleep at the first sign of nausea, especially if it’s due to motion sickness.
  4. Laugh, if possible. It’s the only way John and I survived the surprise interruption to our serpentine drive to Tilaran, Costa Rica. That one was horrible. A strange sound from the back of the car, then anguished, hold-it-together hand scooping mounds of lurched scrambled eggs out of a baby seat.
  5. Clean it fast and thoroughly. Pass that bottle of water and those baby wipes. And a new diaper. Gimme her jammies. Ok. Let’s continue on to that German bakery we’ve been looking forward to visiting. La de da.
  6. Clear the air. Hopefully you will have access to one of the following items that are known for absorbing unpleasant odor: ground coffee beans; baking soda; an open bag of charcoal; distilled vinegar; citrus; or a concoction of a few items above.

It’s no fun when vom dot com becomes a part of your trip, but there is no doubt about this: it will make the trip more memorable. Consider making a map for all the places a family member leaves behind this nutrient-rich resource. I wish I had thought of that sooner. We’d have an impressive barf chart by now.

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