Traveling with Migraines

Migraine. There are very few things in life that are worse than this insufferable asshole. They come on when you’re least expecting one, surprising you in the middle of the day, or are there the moment you wake up with screaming eagerness to ruin absolutely everything in its path. For those that suffer from migraines on a regular basis, you already know most of your triggers. However, there are most likely still so many that pop up out of thin air, disappearing for a few months only to come roaring back into your life. When you’re traveling the absolute last thing you want is a migraine. I’ve spent numerous days stuck in bed because of one of these monsters and I’m not going to let it happen to me when I’ve so few days to enjoy myself. At least, I’m going to do my best to not let it happen to me. Packing key items and planning ahead for a trip is already on my itinerary; adding a couple of migraine helpers can make me feel as if I’m taking action over this agonizing pain. Here are some helpers I use and things I do on trips to help me feel more relaxed and keep migraines at bay, or at the very least, to a minimum:

first aid kit

Peppermint Oil
Yeah, I’m laughing, too. Peppermint oil is not going to save you from a monster attack, but for those little ones that make you day bleaker, it will be a definite saver. Small migraines are easy to deal with when you’re at home and all you have to do is just make it through the day. When you’re in a foreign city and need to use your common sense and smarts in order to keep you safe (not to mention actually have fun), a migraine can make this 1000 times more stressful. Rub on some peppermint oil before heading out for the day, taking it with you to cool off when needed.

Drugs
No, not those kinds of drugs. Although, when you’ve a migraine, just bring it on; am I right? Make sure you’re fully stocked up on your preventative or rescue medicine before heading out for a trip. Seems like an easy thing to make sure you have; I mean, you take it every day, right? Unfortunately, that’s the part that really trips you up. Once you get used to something you stop thinking of it critically. Frequent travelers end up missing flights, or nearly missing flights (guilty), because they’re too relaxed. Same goes with your medication. I’ve been nearing the end of mine on more than one account and rarely stop to think about the fact that I won’t be in my home-town when I’m to run out. Maybe it’s laziness, maybe it’s just that I’ve become used to everything being right at my fingertips, but whatever your excuse is, include this in your list and make sure to double check!

Relaxation
You’re on vacation; this means relaxation, right? Traveling isn’t always relaxing for everyone and going to numerous museums and out each and every day, exploring and seeing beyond their backyard takes a toll on the body and mind. You may have just seen some amazing sights and tried some delicious foods, but you’ve also walked 25 kilometres and have been out in the sun and alert for 15 hours. You’re feeling high on culture and those five espressos you just inhaled, but the next day you’ll come crashing down. Take some time out for yourself to unwind and do mundane things like watching TV, napping, anything that relaxes you. Book spa appointments (when possible) such as massages to help you unwind and ease sore muscles that could be affecting your neck and head. Relaxing for a dedicated hour every day on your trip can help you feel rejuvenated and calm, keeping stress and tension at bay. Remember: every traveler doesn’t have to be in a hostel with 30 people at a time with one backpack and only three outfits; make your vacation yours.

Your Saviour ‘Medicine’
I’m talking about chips, Coke, Pepsi, dark chocolate, or French fries. Whatever it is that you eat whenevercoke you get a migraine (the only thing you can stomach, for most), make sure you have that stocked up in your hotel, apartment, or hostel. Or, at the very least, make sure a lovely friend will head out for a coke and sodium-rich Thai food for you while you throw up for a good couple of hours – thanks Sarah! You may not even have a migraine hit (never a bad result), but just knowing that those items are nearby, ready to help, can make you feel at ease.

Ice Packs
Pack yourself a little first aid kit that contains everything you need to get by: your rescue drugs; peppermint oil; specific foods that ease your stomach (and are allowed in the country); straws for your drinks so you won’t have to move your head; and ice packs. Keep ‘em handy and cold, ready to use. If you’re the hot and cold type of person, bring both, making sure they’re ready for you to use when needed. Let your friends know where your kit is just in case a severe one strikes and you can’t move your head an inch, never-mind get out of bed to retrieve it.

Know your Triggers
Is alcohol a major trigger? Is it just a minor trigger? Whatever type of trigger it is, keep away from it on your trip. Sipping champagne on Champs Elysees is fun, but missing a full day of sight-seeing and cafés is not. If alcohol can up the amount of migraines you get, or anger them, then put down that Kir Royale down and order water or a plain coke. It may not feel as celebratory, but if you know trouble will hit the moment those bubbles hit your lips, you’ll thank yourself later for passing. Knowing your triggers is half the battle; the other half is staying away from them. The more relaxed you’re feeling and more fun you’re having, the more you’ll want to throw caution to the wind. Know your body and don’t feel lame or stupid for sitting out on the little treats when a full day of sight-seeing and culture awaits you.

Routines
Try and keep to your routine as best as possible. Not the type to sleep in? Don’t confuse your body; get up and start your day. You don’t have to head out broken clockfor a jog and start museum-hopping at 9am, but if you’re the type to wake up at 7:00am, do so. But, do it the vacation way: leisurely. If your body’s used to going to bed before 1:00am, why keep yourself awake for that long – or longer? Sure, a night or two most likely won’t awaken the beast, but trying to adjust to everyone else’s inner clock isn’t going to work. It may be annoying to head to bed before everyone else is ready, afraid you’re missing out on fun and bonding, but keeping as close to your schedule as possible can help you steer clear of migraines.

 

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