Have these items handy to keep migraine triggers at bay.
Planning a vacation or a work trip can be a headache. Should you drive or fly? Where should you stay? What dreadful time do you need to wake up in the morning to get to the airport on time? Then, if you have to worry about literal headaches interrupting your trip, planning can be even more challenging. That’s where a migraine travel kit comes in hand.
A migraine travel kit is basically a collection of items to pack to help treat and prevent migraines during your trip. Simply having the migraine travel kit handy can help you feel more confident and less stressed during your travel.
Risk Factors During Travel
“Migraines can be more common during travel for a variety of reasons. The stress of travel in and of itself sometimes can provoke migraines,” says Sylvia Mohen, MD, neurologist in New York City.
Along with stress, you’re likely to struggle sticking with migraine-friendly habits on the flight or drive. You might be drinking less water because of airport restrictions or simply because you don’t have easy access to a bathroom. If you’re traveling at odd times or to different time zones, your travels may disrupt your sleep schedule or delay your meals. All of these can trigger a migraine.
“In general, depending on the reason you're traveling, sometimes the environmental triggers from where you go can be a provoking factor,” says Dr. Mohen. For example, the hot and humid beaches in Miami could trigger a migraine, as well as the noisy streets of New York City.
What to Pack
To reduce worry about migraines during your trip, be prepared by packing a migraine travel kit. Consider packing the following items to treat and prevent any unwanted migraines:
- Your medicines: This may include your acute migraine treatment and an antiemetic if you get nausea during your migraines.
- Eye mask: This can help you sleep during flights, or to block out light if you’re feeling sensitive.
- Earplugs: You can use these to drown out loud noises or to help get sleep.
- Sleep aid: If you’re worried about getting enough sleep on your trip, consider a sleep aid.
- Hat and sunglasses: These may be especially important if you’re going to a sunny destination and are sensitive to sunlight. Learn more about picking sunglasses for migraines here.
- Neck pillow: This can also help you be more comfortable on the trip and get some sleep.
- A water bottle: If you’re flying, bring an empty water bottle. Then, fill it up in the airport after you go through security. This can help you avoid dehydration.
- Migraine-friendly snacks: Pack some emergency snacks in your migraine travel kit in case you can’t eat meals at your regular time.
Getting Help from Your Doctor
Talking to your doctor in advance may help you avoid some unexpected problems on your trip. For example, they may provide tips for what to do if a severe migraine hits while you’re traveling.
“Particularly when you're traveling abroad, it may be difficult to obtain migraine medications that successfully treat your migraine and work for you,” says Dr. Mohen. “I've definitely worked with patients sometimes to even have them take a medication kit with a little letter, just outlining what they have in case the airlines have any question about it.”
You might also want to confirm with your doctor about the best way to contact them in an emergency. Says Dr. Mohen, “Some doctors' offices will have, say, an email address you can use if you're abroad to just maybe let them know what's going on and have some recommendations.”
Sylvia Mohen, MD, is a neurologist at New York Neurology Associates, P.C.
- 5 holiday travel tips from our migraine community. American Migraine Foundation, 2018. (Accessed on August 5, 2020)
- Acute treatment of migraine in adults. Waltham, MA: UpToDate, 2020. (Accessed on August 5, 2020)
- Preventive treatment of migraine in adults. Waltham, MA: UpToDate, 2020. (Accessed on August 5, 2020)