Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

No vacation from migraines

Please allow me to take a moment to complain about my free time and my vacations.

“Oh, please,” you might already be saying. “Poor baby has a  few days off work, let’s feel bad for her.” (Okay, maybe I’m imagining a peanut gallery that’s a little harsher on me than you guys are. But let’s roll with it.)

Here’s why we frequent migraineurs might worry about our free time:  because we can’t count on it. We can never be sure that a migraine attack won’t come knocking at the door that first day of vacation, ready to keep us company the whole time we’re at the beach, or in the mountains, or just kickin’ it at our friends’ house.  Perhaps you’ve been relatively migraine-free for weeks, but somehow that stress “let-down” of finally being off work makes your migraine think it has an open invitation to show up and ruin your party.

I don’t take many non-work-related trips these days, but I can tell you that, in the last few years, I cannot recall one vacation that was not tainted in some way by my migraine disease.  There was the trip we took to Miami for my birthday a few years—I had a migraine nearly every day.  And then the month I spent in Buenos Aires a couple of years before opening Avid Bookshop:  I had many more days with migraine than without, despite having felt pretty good the months prior. Once, Jim and I went to visit his family in California and I had a migraine almost the whole time.  I vividly recall pulling into a public park to put my head between my legs before heading to a family party (I ended up having a fun, though muted, time).

I love traveling, and I love vacation. Even the most dire migraine episodes have not ruined any trips for me, and for that I am grateful (and I thank my undying optimism for that!). But I am just going to say it:  it sucks. It sucks that those of us with chronic pain and chronic illness don’t ever have the luxury of taking time off and simply knowing that, excluding unexpected crises, a vacation will allow us the time to relax and be pain- or illness-free.  When I plan my trips, I look at the time of year I’m traveling, the layovers (if applicable), the accommodations, the altitude, and more.  I do what I can to control my triggers but know that, if history is any indication, I am going on a trip but will never have a vacation from my migraines.

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.


  • Sara
    5 years ago

    This . Oh my gosh THIS IS ME to a tee. I had the worst time on the trip my hubby and I took for our one year anniversary this summer. It was however reminiscent of the honeymoon in that way hahahaha.

  • tucker
    6 years ago

    This is so funny. We were just talking about my “vacation issues” this week. I am reading old emails and saw this. We didn’t take a vacation this year but did do some fun stuff this summer at home with kids – esp kayaking one weekend.

    Not only have I ruined their lives with migraines, I’ve had near misses on canceling 2 big summer vacations. Our past 2 big vacations have been close calls with me having a DVT (blood clot in my leg) one year – but my doctor let me go on a 10 hour drive! out of state for the week. I had to go to a hospital lab twice for blood work which took up several hours of those 2 days.

    Last year we planned a adventurous week in WV rafting, rock climbing, etc. The day before we left, I fainted and fell on my face. I ended up with 15 stitches in my mouth and face and was pretty bruised up. We left the next day with pain meds and ice packs. And headed out rafting the day after that.

    It’s always something with mom – headaches (migraines), fainting, or worse. But as I remind them, I’ve never held us back. Today they left to go camping and canoeing. It’s the DOGS that are holding us back. The “bad” dog won’t let anyone in the house she doesn’t know and love. They love me dearly and follow me EVERYWHERE, even if I get up and come right back. So I’m driving all the way out tomorrow after I can let them out in the morning. But that’s OK. It’s been a long, long crazy week and I’m happy to sleep in my own bed tonight and not on the hard, cold ground…

  • lulabelula
    6 years ago


  • Candi Frontczak
    6 years ago

    I too have suffered from chronic migraines. I spent lots of money over the years and now have found out several tricks when traveling. 1. Don’t get too excited about the trip the excitement leads migraines. I try to stay in my mood as if I am working until I have a few days of being there then I can let go & relax! My worst migraine was my second marriage on my Honeymoon! That migraine lasted 2 days! 2. Try to stay with-in your normal meals, I start my day off with my oatmeal on vacay no I can’t have sweets for breakfast (triggers my migraines sweets on an empty stomach)I know this along with other triggers. It is so important to KNOW your triggers! Make a journal for 1 month you will find out your triggers it works!
    3. Never Ever use artificial sweeteners except Sucrose my migraines have decreased in HALF not using or drinking anything with Splenda, Equal ETC! Read every label Diet Pepsi, Diet Coke, low calorie foods, such as yogurt, Diet Teas, Crystal Light all use aspartame do you know when Aspartame is heated as in my hot tea it turns into Arsenic! No wonder we get migraines! When I want a Mt. Dew or a Coke I only get a small slushy of Mt. Dew, Coke etc! **NOTE** never DIET products Unless label says Sucrose! This stops my craving & has 1/2 calories & caffeine! 4. My help on stopping the caffeine this was very hard to don until I found Spark from Advocare, it is a natural caffeine I can & do enjoy.

  • Poll