Members of our #MoveAgainstMigraine group share their advice for managing migraine while on the go
There’s no place like home for the holidays. But for those of us living with migraine, traveling far away to be with friends and family is anything but enjoyable. Traffic, delayed flights and long lines can all make for stressful scenarios that can trigger a migraine attack. Members of our Move Against Migraine Facebook group recently shared their best advice for managing migraine while in transit this holiday season. Read on for their travel tips:
1. Take Breaks
No matter how you travel this holiday season, Move Against Migraine member Cherisse recommends building in downtime when you get to your destination. Use this time to nap, catch up on sleep, take your medications or just have some time to yourself away from the throngs of harried travelers and well-meaning relatives. A few hours to yourself can do wonders for reducing stress, a common migraine trigger.
If you are driving to your destination, take frequent breaks by pulling off the road and stretching your legs at a rest stop. Member Belinda recommends taking just five minutes every hour to meditate or breath deeply before continuing on your journey. For Phoebe, a long period spent in the car can trigger migraine-associated vertigo, and frequent stops help her stave off a migraine attack.
2. Stick to a Consistent Sleep Schedule
With everything on our plates this holiday season, sleep is typically the first thing to fall by the wayside. While traveling, try to catch up on sleep the best you can. Belinda and Phoebe bring a neck pillow along for the ride, which provides neck support and helps limit movement. Geordon uses a white noise app to drown out the drone of an airplane, and Susan often packs earplugs and an eye mask to help her sneak in some shut-eye.
Once you arrive at your destination, try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule as best you can to prevent the onset of a migraine attack. If you’re unable to fall asleep, don’t just stay in bed and stare at the clock. Try to do something relaxing—whether it be reading or yoga—until you feel tired.
3. Pack a Migraine Emergency Kit
Before you hit the road, make sure you have the essentials you need to cope with a migraine attack while away from home. Pack all of your necessary migraine medications and refills in your carry-on bag, not your checked luggage. In the event that your luggage is delayed or lost, you won’t have the added stress of trying to refill your prescription at a pharmacy with holiday hours.
Phoebe recommends carrying snack bags and baby food pouches so that you have a healthy, nutritious snack wherever you are. She and Laura also recommend packing peppermint essential oils, which can alleviate brain fog.
Some additional things to include in your kit:
- Granola bars or a preferred snack
- Water bottle and plenty of hydrating fluids
- Sickness bag
- Eye mask
4. Wear Sunglasses
Light sensitivity is common for people living with migraine. When traveling in a car or train, opt for a seat away from the windows or try to close the shade. Members Belinda, Laura and Susan also recommend packing sunglasses or tinted glasses to block out some of the sun’s harsh rays. Sunglasses may come in handy when you reach your destination, as well, if you’re exposed to bright artificial light indoors.
5. Be Kind to Yourself
Sticking to a routine is often the best way to manage migraine symptoms, but while you’re on the road and away from the comforts of home, that is not always possible, and you have to adjust accordingly. Jane allows herself permission to stop driving after an hour if she can’t keep going and to simply let go if she can’t do everything that she planned.
We put together tips for sleighing your holiday headaches and a downloadable guide to managing migraine during the holidays, which includes advice for common holiday scenarios and how to practice self-care. For even more tips, visit our doctor-verified resource library, then join our Move Against Migraine Facebook community for support and answers to your frequently asked questions.
Reviewed for accuracy by the American Migraine Foundation’s subject matter experts, headache specialists and medical advisers with deep knowledge and training in headache medicine. Click here to read about our editorial board members.