When you live with migraine disease, whether episodic or chronic, it’s a fact of life that your migraine disease comes with you. Preparation and planning ahead is key to setting yourself up for success when/if you experience an attack away from home. (Unfortunately for me it’s when, but hopefully for some of you it’s an if!)
Living with chronic migraine the past nine years has given me plenty of opportunities to figure out how travel works best for me and what I need to do in advance to position myself to be able to cope with whatever comes up when I’m away from home, especially when I’m traveling alone.
My trip is a blogging conference in New York, but my top five tips are equally applicable whether you’re traveling for business, going on vacation or visiting family or friends.
(1) Make a comprehensive list of everything you need to have with you to treat and cope with a migraine attack. For me this includes:
– treatment medications
– gallon size zip top plastic bags (both for ice and for nausea/vomiting)
– sleeping mask
– ear plugs
– aromatherapy items, such as Lather’s Clear Head Balancing Balm
– relaxation and medication tracks on my iPhone & headphones
– a soft washcloth from home (Sometimes I prefer a cold cloth to an ice pack, and I like to have a soft one with me that smells like home).
(2) Practice pacing. In a nutshell, the concept of pacing is to monitor your exertion level to make sure you’re staying within a reasonable range and not overdoing it and driving yourself toward a crash.
You can put pacing to good use from the moment you begin planning your trip. It will help you with the packing process, getting to your destination and as you go about your business or fun during the trip itself. You can relax and make lists of things you need to do, then slowly accomplish the tasks a little at a time.
(3) Maintain a routine. We know for certain that migraine brains do not like change. By traveling to a different time zone, eating different, often less healthy foods, sleeping in strange places and all the other disruption that goes along with travel, we’re asking for migraine problems. Try to stick to your regular sleep schedule and bring healthy foods with you that you’re used to eating so you don’t get stuck without anything you can eat. And set alarms to remind you to take your medications. It’s always hard to remember that when you’re out of your normal routine.
(4) Treat yourself with kindness. If you need to skip out on something to take a rest or a nap, do it. You’re not going to have fun or be productive if you’re migraining and/or running on empty. You know your needs and limits, so please listen to them and build your schedule accordingly.
(5) Be in the moment. Instead of lamenting what you can’t do or experience on your trip, enjoy every single moment building memories with your family or friends. Soak it all up and be present. If you’re constantly focused on disappointments you’re only cheating yourself out of the experiences you CAN have.
What helps you cope when you travel?