I used to get carsick as a kid, and still have tendencies in that direction as an adult. My grandmother also used to be prone to motion sickness. I’ll tell you stuff that has worked for me, or for her.
Have the kid ride in the front seat. This always helped Grandma.
Make sure you have air flowing in the car at all times. The vent, heater, or air conditioner should be on, or else a window should be open, at all times. I find that I start feeling queasy pretty fast in a car where the air is not moving. There is a theory that motion sickness is due to conflicting sensory signals- some signals tell you you’re moving, others tell you you’re not. Air flow might help for that reason, since it’s unnatural to see yourself moving and not feel the air around you moving.
Keep sugar sodas, hard candies, or lollipops handy. The ideal here is to give one to the kid when he first starts feeling nauseous. At 8, he should be able to recognize this feeling. I used some of the gummy ginger candies from Trader Joe’s on a bus trip in Israel, and they worked well for me. Ginger is a well-known nausea remedy, but I’ve found that things like butterscotch disks work, too.
Make sure there’s water or some other beverage that he can sip from. I’ve heard from an acquaintance who is a doctor that that stops reverse peristalsis (which is a precursor to vomiting) and gets the peristalsis moving the right way. I know that, if I’m feeling nauseous, a sip of water can do wonders.
Watch what he eats. Fatty or rich foods, spicy foods, or fried foods are a no-no just before a trip. Milk is not a good idea, either. Right after might be OK, though- motion sickness can go away pretty quickly, especially for kids.
Stay away from strong food smells. Ask him which ones bother him, and avoid those. The smell of bacon or fried chicken makes nausea worse for me. You don’t want to eat in a restaurant that smells strongly of something that triggers nausea for him, nor do you want to have anything in the car that has a smell that bothers him. It’s not just food smells that can do it, either. You might have to look for unscented versions of things like sunscreen as well.
Have something for him to do in the car that won’t make him nauseous. Reading in the car is a no-no for me. I’ve known that since a pretty young age, but I would often get bored enough in the car that I wanted to read anyway, even though I knew it would make me nauseous. Listening to music or a book on tape, either on the car stereo or with headphones, shouldn’t make him nauseous. A DVD might be helpful, too, if you’ve got a player in the car.
Make sure you’re prepared for the worst. Have plastic bags (ideally, large Ziploc bags), paper towels or wet wipes, some water to drink, and a change of clothes for the kid, just in case. If he has long hair, have something on hand to tie it back. If he does throw up, get him cleaned up as soon as possible, and get the vomit out of the car ASAP. The taste and smell of vomit are nauseating to most people. Letting him sit there covered in vomit is likely to result in more vomit. Nobody wants that.