Migraine Self-Care: Prepare for a Trip or Event

Patient Expert
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As a writer and travel consultant, I am often on the road, attending industry events, conducting research, and exploring destinations around the world. Travel and events can be taxing on even the healthiest of bodies. As a migraineur, I need to be extra mindful and gentle with my body. I don’t have the luxury of spontaneity; I have to plan ahead or risk the painful consequences.

For my fellow migraineurs, here are five things you can do to prepare and hopefully prevent a migraine from disrupting your events and adventures.

Pack a bag

I never leave the house without my migraine care kit: sunglasses, at least one full reusable water bottle, snacks, lavender essential oils, and meds. Migraine triggers, symptoms, and treatment vary from person to person, so my care kit might not look the same as yours. What’s most important is that you always pack the essentials you need to prevent and manage an attack.

If you require prescriptions and are traveling, be sure to take double what you would normally require, in case of emergency: not all pills are created equal and you may not find the exact ones you need at your destination.

Make a plan

You know what to do if you experience an attack. But what about the people around you? The last thing you want when you are in pain is to try to explain what’s happening and what you need in order to alleviate symptoms or abort the migraine attack. And those of us that suffer from hemiplegic migraine may not even be able to communicate — one of the symptoms is impaired speech.

Give your travel mates or hosts a heads-up. Provide them with info on your condition well in advance so they are prepared to assist in the event of a migraine attack. I typically share a brief description of my condition, triggers, symptoms, treatment (be sure to note any allergies or medications that can actually aggravate rather than alleviate your symptoms), and an emergency contact name and number.

Fuel up

When I’m busy, I tend to unintentionally miss meals or grab something in a rush — two bad habits that can be really risky for migraineurs. Skipping meals and consuming high-sugar foods are common migraine triggers. Just as you need to gas up the car before you hit the road, be sure to eat well in the days (or at the very least, the hours) leading up to your trip or event.

Expect the unexpected

Whether it’s last-minute client requests, unexpected visitors, health issues, or any number of other possible speedbumps, it seems something always pops up just before a trip or event.

Sometimes we can’t plan or prevent these, but what we can do is give ourselves a bit of a buffer. If you completely fill your schedule before an event or trip, you won’t have any wiggle room when you need it. My strategy is to keep the day before departure clear. This way, I know there is at least one free day for any unexpected overflow or last-minute errands.

Rest

I often hear people say they’ll sleep on the plane or catch up on their rest when they return from an event. But you never know what’s ahead. The event may go longer than scheduled, a noisy or fidgety seatmate might keep you awake, or turbulence could prevent a solid snooze.

Insufficient sleep is a common trigger for migraines (not to mention many other health-related issues). Everyone needs sufficient rest. That seems obvious, but when you’re wrapped up in preparing for an event or adventure, it’s easy to lose track of time. Don’t wait until it’s too late and you’re battling a migraine. Schedule ample time to sleep prior to departure so you can enjoy your experience to the fullest.

See more helpful articles:

Sporadic and Familial Hemiplegic Migraine - The Basics

5 Reasons Not to Tough It Out With Migraine

The Risks of Insufficient Sleep