If you live with chronic migraines, you know they can come unannounced at any time, especially when traveling. Traveling with chronic migraines is indeed challenging. The unexpected triggering factors multiply with the change of habits. However, the fear of migraines should not prevent you from traveling. There are a few tricks to help you prevent migraines from happening and to tame them before it’s too late. Here are 10 useful travel tips for chronic migraine sufferers!
Preparing Your Travels When You Have Migraines
First, let's talk about the pre-departure preparation of a journey for chronic migraine sufferers. Packing the right things and anticipating a few other ones are the first steps to successfully prevent and manage headaches while traveling.
Packing Your Migraine Medicines & Painkillers
If you often have migraines and headaches, you probably have painkillers to use when it happens. Chronic migraine sufferers also commonly take preventive prophylactic medications such as TCA (Tricyclic antidepressants), Sumatriptans, Aimovig, Emgality, or others.
Whatever medications you're traveling with, they must be packed in their original boxes. They must be easily identifiable with readable labels. Some of these migraine medicines such as Aimovig or Emgality may require thermal maintenance to be protected from the heat. Check the temperature requirements before use. If your medication needs refrigeration, use a medical-grade travel cooler to safely carry them.
When flying with medications, always pack them in your carry-on. The hazardous atmosphere and temperature conditions in the hold could damage and deteriorate your migraine drugs.
Always bring more medications that you think you will need. You never know what can happen during your travel. Flights may get delayed, you might want to extend your trip, or need more painkillers than usual.
Don't Forget Your Migraine Kit!
Migraines with aura or classical migraines can be incited by bright light, heavy noise, change of posture or place, etc. People complain of severe throbbing headaches with visual involvement in this type of migraine. There may be blurring of vision with flashes of light and the appearance of various patterns in the visual field. Also, nausea, numbness in limbs, weakness, tunnel vision, etc, are the commonest symptoms.
Lights and sounds are external factors that are very unpredictable when traveling. If your migraines are often triggered by lights or sounds, don't forget to take your usual migraine kit. This may be a pair of eye masks, earmuffs, essential oils, or anything that you know works for you. It could considerably help you prevent acute attacks of migraine during travel.
Carry The Necessary Travel Documents
Medications that are delivered with medical prescriptions must be accompanied by such documents when traveling. Before departure, ask for your doctor to fill out the necessary paperwork so you can fly and cross borders without any problems.
If you’re traveling with medication internationally, you must check what the regulations of your destination country are. Some countries prohibit the importation of some drugs. Others set a limit of 30-days’ worth of medicines.
Even for national travels, the Transportation Security Administration might require a medical certificate or a copy of your prescription for certain medications.
Use a cooler for Aimovig or Emgality
Some medications for migraine, like Aimovig or Emgality, require refrigeration. Emgality for example must be refrigerated when not in use and can be kept at room temperature (max 30°C / 86°F) for up to 7 days only. The storage instructions are similar for Aimovig which must be refrigerated and can sit at room temperature for 7 days only.
Maintaining these temperature requirements can be challenging for travelers. When you’re on the move, you don’t always have access to a fridge or electricity to keep your medications cold. The use of lunch bags filled with ice cubes isn’t very convenient and risk freezing your valuable drugs. Using a true medical travel cooler like the ones from 4AllFamily can save you time, stress, and migraine attacks!
Tips For Avoiding Migraine When Traveling
Migraines have no time and place, and they can just start anywhere at any moment! People who suffer from migraine attacks know it requires constant vigilance. Travels are great, but they bring a great share of unexpected and unpredictable triggering factors such as lights, sounds, crowds, stress, foods, sun, heat, change of sleep schedule, and many others. Below are some tips that could help you prevent most migraine attacks while traveling.
Prevent flight-related migraines
Airplane headaches are very common, even for people who don't usually suffer from migraines. The high altitude, the change of atmospheric pressure, the stress of flying, the tight environment, the noise… are all factors that contribute to increasing the risks a migraine occurs.
If you’re flying and suffer from chronic migraines, you may prevent plane-induced headaches by taking preventive painkillers (ask for your doctor’s advice first) or using eye masks and earmuffs for example.
Stay Hydrated, Drink Lots Of fluids
Water is essential for our body to function, and dehydration is a well-known triggering factor for migraines and headaches in general. It mostly leads to migraine without aura or the common migraine with a strong level of pain.
Don’t forget to have enough fluid intake, especially when traveling. The daily recommendations are 3.7 liters of fluids a day for a man and 2.7 liters of fluids a day for a woman. Traveling with a flask might help you keep track of how much water you're drinking each day.
Avoid Foods That Can Cause Migraine
Most chronic migraine sufferers know about this. Certain foods and drinks like aged cheese, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, cured meat, frozen foods, and foods with an excess of salt can trigger migraines.
Discovering new foods is a huge part of traveling, and probably one of the most pleasant! But be careful and don’t take too many risks that could cause a migraine to ruin your experience. Even if it’s tempting, try to stay away from foods you know aren’t good for you.
Hunger is also a common cause of headaches. Never slip meals and don't wait to be too hungry to get some food. Carry healthy travel snacks like fruits, nuts, or cereal bars to kill a sudden hunger before it’s too late.
Sleep Well and relax
Deprivation of sleep and restlessness are also famous triggering factors for migraines. Every traveler will agree that traveling is tiring. Your sleep schedule changes, your physical activity increase, your emotions multiply, your mind and body are affected by dozens of new or unhabitual things. All of that considerably contribute to tiredness and fatigue, which you want to avoid when you're a chronic migraine sufferer!
Remember that an average healthy adult must sleep at least 7 to 8 hours a day. Try to preserve your sleep routine even when traveling. Rest well, have long nights, take naps, and relax to keep the migraine at bay!
Protect Yourself from The Sun!
Sunlight is a notorious factor for migraine. It can excite your neurons and culminate in a bad headache. If you’re traveling to hot weather destinations with strong sunlight, you should protect yourself. Carry umbrellas, hats, sunscreen, sun-protecting clothes, etc. But most importantly, try to stay away from the sun as much as possible and avoid the hottest hours.
Watch Out For Unexpected Migraine Triggering Factors
Make sure you have everything prepared and ready before the tour. Don't leave anything for the last minute, and don't leave out any important papers. Carry everything you need. If necessary, make a list and double-check everything.
Last-minute stress is bad for migraine. So, anticipate as much as you can and relax! Make sure your journey goes smoothly! Keep an eye out for the unexpected events that can trigger a migraine attack.
We hope this article will help you keep migraine attacks at bay during your next travels! Thank you for reading, and stay safe!