Building Your Migraine Attack Pack

by Teri Robert Patient Advocate

Whether we’re at home or traveling, having what we need during a migraine attack all in one place makes life far easier. At home, you can grab the pack and have what you need or ask someone to bring it to you. When traveling, having a migraine attack pack helps ensure you’ll have what you need without leaving anything at home. Here are some tips for putting together your migraine attack pack. Of course, you’ll want to customize it to suit you.

Bags and backpacks in store
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Choose a bag

Choose a bag to hold the items you need, one that you’re not using for anything else. Lightweight bags with multiple compartments and pockets are ideal. It can be a tote bag, a backpack, whatever you prefer. Consider how easy is it to get things out of it? You may want to avoid bags with buckles or other closures that require good coordination to open. Velcro, snaps, and zippers are easier.

Royal pillow
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Add a pillow

There are many things I can do without, but a comfortable pillow isn't one of them. We all have preferences about pillows, so why not choose a small one that makes you super comfy? Travel pillows can work well for this, and they come in many materials, shapes and sizes.

Stack of colorful blankets
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Grab a comfy blanket

For me, a blanket is two things, warmth and comfort. I want something that is both warm and very soft. For this purpose, don't limit your search to blankets. Throws and flannel sheets are also good options. Again, look at travel products. There are quite a few travel blankets made of fleece. They're light weight, yet warm. They can fold or roll up to be pretty small, and they wash easily.

Sleep Mask on sheet
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Let there be darkness!

Light sensitivity is a huge issue, so eye shades can be a necessity. It's not always easy to find a very dark room when traveling. You're at the mercy of whatever blinds and shades are in the rooms you're staying in, and if you get a daytime Migraine in the car -- ouch! When choosing, be sure that, if there's a band that goes around you head to hold them in place, it's not too tight.

Headphones and phone with play button.
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Soothe the savage beast with music

Softly played music or soothing sounds can be a big help in relaxing, getting our minds off our pain, or meditating. A portable CD player or MP3 player is a big bonus. If the earphones for your MP3 player bother you when you have a Migraine, there are now many good portable speaker systems that you can use with MP3 players.

Tissue box
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Be prepared for sniffles

Don’t forget the tissues! Migraine symptoms can include our eyes tearing, nasal congestion, or a runny nose, so tissues are essential in our migraine attack packs.

Peppermint hard candy a natural nausea reducer.
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Natural nausea remedies

Peppermint or ginger candies – flavored with natural peppermint or ginger, not artificial flavorings – are great nausea remedies for some of us. They can also help if we’re thirsty but concerned that we might not be able to keep water down.

Woman cooling head with small travel cooling pack.
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Cooling therapy

At home, I like gel packs from the freezer. Obviously, that's not easily achieved when traveling. Cooling gel sheets are a good option. I've tried several brands without noticing a significant difference, so I shop for them by price. The BeKoool sheets in the children's size are a frequent choice. The children's size is large enough for most adults and less expensive.

Aromatherapy oil
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Migraine aromatherapy essentials

Although aromatherapy doesn’t abort a migraine, it’s great for symptomatic relief and comfort. It can help with physical symptoms such as nausea and the emotional symptoms such as anxiety.

Taking migraine pill with water.
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Migraine medications and water

Some people prefer to keep their migraine medications in their migraine attack pack; others prefer to keep them separate. Either way works as long as we don’t forget to take them with us. Keeping a bottle of water in the pack is good for two reasons – to have water for taking medications, and to avoid dehydration.

Teri Robert
Meet Our Writer
Teri Robert

Teri Robert is a leading patient educator and advocate and the author of Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. A co-founder of the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and the American Headache and Migraine Association, she received the National Headache Foundation's Patient Partners Award and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Headache Society.