Making big plans when you don’t know what your health situation will be

As a lifelong travel addict, I am very lucky that, despite my very limited personal budget, I am awarded the opportunity to travel pretty frequently for both work and pleasure.

In 2012, the first full year my bookshop was up and running, I limited my travel. By any regular person’s standards, I still spend a fair amount of time out of town, but nearly every trip was work-related and brief. I am of course still thankful for the time, but my travel-addicted self was not satisfied with my limited travel plans.

Cue the crazy year of 2013, when I spent a significant portion of my time out of town for myriad reasons. I ended up out of town for at least forty days! The amazing nature of this news is tempered by this fact: I had at least one migraine per vacation/trip, regardless of my reason for traveling.

Like many of you, flying in an airplane is a trigger for me. The general stress of traveling plus the altitude shifts plus the dehydration combine to make a pretty potent potion for those of us with migraine disease. I have been lucky enough to avoid the flight-induced migraine a couple of times (usually due to my focus on drinking lots of water and trying to book flights at times that would minimize the stress of commuting to and from the airport).

Being out of town means I’m out of my routine, which is something that can trigger a migraine.

Being at conferences tends to involve bright overhead lighting and a lot of noise.

Being treated to delicious and raucous publisher dinners often means I end up in a loud, small room full of good-natured people who are somehow able to stay up way past their bedtime and awake without a migraine.

Being on my period virtually EVERY TIME I LEAVE GEORGIA means I very often have my seemingly unavoidable menstrual-related migraine when I am far from home.

Clearly, all these migraine-related factors indicate it is nigh on impossible for me to take a trip out of town without having to be prepared for at least one migraine attack. I find myself resenting the “normal” people when it comes time to make travel plans. I have said no to a conference before because it fell the same weekend when my menstrual-related migraine is usually at its worst. I have booked flights so the plan arrives a full two days before any of my commitments do—that way, in theory at least, I have time to medicate and recover if a migraine attacks before duty calls.

I tend to worry about making big plans, travel-related or otherwise, because I worry I will end up not feeling well. I sometimes say no to plans in order to hedge my bets—if it seems a migraine is very likely, why not say no now instead of at the last minute when my friends are left scrambling for a companion?

Does migraine factor into your travel plans as well? Do you feel restricted even in your free time due to the unpredictable nature of your illness?

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

Do you feel comfortable advocating for yourself to your healthcare provider?