Avoiding Migraines While Traveling - Holiday Migraine Tips
Travel can present so many potential migraine triggers that we migraineurs often find ourselves not feeling well when we arrive at our destinations or avoiding travel altogether. That's definitely been my experience. Below, are some of those potential migraine triggers and suggestions for handling them:
- Sleep issues. Travel often leads to an irregular sleep schedule, and that can definitely be a migraine trigger. It isn't always just about getting enough sleep either. A regular schedule of going to bed and getting up at the same time, including weekends, holidays, and vacation, is essential for many of us. Waking with a migraine often indicates that it was triggered by a sleep issue.
- Dehydration. Even mild dehydration can be a strong migraine trigger. I used to deliberately limit my fluid intake when traveling in order to limit the number of "pit stops" or trying not to have to use the restrooms on planes. Then, I discovered that doing this was triggering migraines and decided it was worth taking more time or the inconvenience of air plane restrooms to arrive more often at my destination without a migraine.
- Foods and beverages. Do you have food and / or beverage triggers? If so, consider taking trigger-free snacks and some bottled water with you when you travel.
- Bright, twinkling, and otherwise obnoxious lights. This is a biggie for many of us. When we're outside, sunglasses and / or a baseball cap or sun visor may help. Indoors, it's not good to wear sunglasses very much. Some of us have found that the FL-41 glasses made for migraine are a significant help. They can also be worn at night when oncoming headlights are problematic.
- Motion sickness. Motion sickness is very common among migraineurs, and there are theories that the two may be connected somehow. For those of us who experience motion sickness, discussing it with our doctors can be very helpful. After talking with my doctor, I'm sure to take a dose of dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) or diphenhydramine (Benadryl) if I'm going to be traveling by car or plane. Both of these medications are antihistamines and work similarly. Since I often use diphenhydramine for sinus and allergy issues, I always have it with me and have stopped buying dimenhydrinate. The last two years, I went on cruises in fall. My doctor prescribed scopolamine patches for me so I wouldn't get seasick. They were a huge help. Not only did I not get seasick, but when I got a migraine during the cruises, I didn't have the problem with nausea that usually accompanies my migraines.
- Getting overheated. One of my worst triggers is getting overheated. When we travel, it can be quite difficult to control the temperatures around us all the time. It's especially difficult when we travel with people who are comfortable at temperatures other than those at which we're comfortable. Layering our clothing can be very helpful. If driving, keep a sweater or jacket in the car. My husband likes the car far warmer than I do, so I usually keep a jacket and a lighter sweater in the car or layer so I can remove layers. Being comfortable is more than a personal preference; it can help us avoid some migraines!
Do you have more problems with other triggers when traveling? Do you have other tips for those I talked about? Please post a comment below, and share with us!
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Reviewed by David Watson, MD.
© Teri Robert, 2014, • Last updated December 4, 2014.