How you can manage travel-related migraine attacks
We all wish we could leave migraine at home while we travel, but there are a few things people with migraine can do to prevent and manage travel-related attacks. As more and more people receive a COVID-19 vaccine and travel picks up, it’s important to keep these migraine management techniques top of mind so you can explore new places and visit friends and family safely and stress-free.
We spoke with our Move Against Migraine group to find out their best tips for traveling with migraine.
Tips for Traveling with Migraine
Pack the Essentials
Life with migraine means having to plan ahead. To help prevent an upcoming attack or manage symptoms, those with migraine need to pack more than just the traveling essentials, often bringing items for every just-in-case situation that could come up as a result of their migraine.
In member Paula’s bag, she keeps her medications, earplugs to reduce noise, clothespins or paper clips to keep curtains closed in hotel rooms, a miniature hot water bottle and a few instant cooling packs. Other members recommend an eye mask and nausea bags in addition to snacks and water. But no matter what it is, pack what you think you may need. After all, you know your migraine best.
Not only should you pack your migraine essentials, but you should also utilize them to prevent incoming attacks and decrease the intensity, severity and duration of a current attack. Member Maddie says, “On planes, I use earplugs inside of noise-canceling headphones to drown out all of the noise. I also always carry anti-nausea medications, just in case.”
Travel with Someone
Vacations are meant to be relaxing, but when you are the one in charge of everything, they can sometimes become stressful. Luckily, you don’t need to go it alone. Bring someone along for the trip who can share the workload. For road trips, member Victoria suggests you “have a travel buddy who can drive while you rest.” Be sure to let your travel partner know before the trip that you live with migraine so that they aren’t caught off guard should they need to help out more than anticipated.
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It can help to bring someone along who is already a member of your migraine support system and who is familiar with your needs. Member Jonell says when she travels with her husband, he helps keep her from overheating, reminds her to make frequent rest stops and helps her stay hydrated. For parents, traveling with your partner or another adult will spread the responsibility so that you can find moments to take care of yourself while they take care of the children.
Build in Rest Time
Travel can mean doing more walking and decision-making compared to a usual day at home, so plan for time to rest your body and brain. Adding rest time into your schedule can give you a moment to relax, hydrate and refuel your body so you can continue on your vacation.
“Traveling is tiring, so I have to get lots of rest,” says member Sarah. “It’s tempting to ‘hit the ground running’ when I’m in a new place, but the whole trip will be better if I get a lot of rest. I’d rather enjoy the time I am out and about than try to do too much and feel miserable.”
While on vacation, it’s easy to want to throw your routines to the wayside in favor of enjoying your time to the fullest, but it’s often said that the migraine brain hates change. So put your health first by continuing to manage your migraine to the best of your ability. That way, you can enjoy your vacation and come back feeling refreshed and ready to go. Bon voyage!
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.