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What should I put in my Migraine tool bag?

In a previous post we talked about what a Migraine bag is, why Migraineurs use them, some ideas you might want to consider when choosing your bag, as well as some supplies you’ll want to have on hand while building your bag.

When considering the items you’ll want for your Migraine bag, consider the tools you currently use for your attacks. Not every patient will find every item listed below helpful for their Migraines. It’s okay to build your Migraine bag over a period of time. It’s also a wonderful thing to build for someone you know who might be a Migraineur.

  • Medication – at least two doses of your regular Migraine meds in their original packaging (with directions) and one backup/Plan B rescue medication in original packaging (with directions). Bottles may be color coded for easy reference by labeling with colored tape, marker, or by having the pharmacist use different colored bottles when the prescription is filled. Use the waterproof marker to write the number of pills needed for a single dosage on the top of the bottle so it’s easy to see during aura. Storing all the medication bottles in a single baggie makes them easy to find by touch by you or your helper.
  • Bottled water – for taking medication or rinsing the mouth. Keeping hydrated is important during an attack. Juice boxes are also handy.
  • Horseshoe pillow and soft blanket – Microfiber products are great because they are super soft and easy to clean. The horseshoe pillow helps to stabilize the neck during traveling or while sitting, and is super comfortable while laying down too.
  • Hot water bottle – can be filled hot or cold as you prefer, and can help with pain wherever it is felt. Some are purchased covered with flannel, but a pillow case is handy to wrap it and keep from burning or freezing the skin. Instant heat or ice packs are more expensive but can sometimes work just as well and are easier to handle. Heating pads or rice bags are great if you like heat, but need electricity to work.
  • Washcloth and towel – in dark colors are handy to wipe spills, use as an additional blanket, or dampen and use as a compress. It can even be used as a makeshift ice pack when necessary. Baby wipes can sometimes do the job too, but beware of scented or bleach containing wipes.
  • Ginger – or other anti-nausea medicine. OTC items might include: candied ginger, ginger tea, ginger snaps. Emetrol
  • Air sickness bag – in case the anti-emetic doesn’t work. Can be purchased in bulk online, or picked up the next time you go on vacation. Empty ice cream or cool whip containers work better, but are a little tougher to store. If you choose a plastic container, pack the washcloth and pills inside and put the lid on.
  • Sunglasses – the bigger and darker the better. Some Migraineurs are more comfortable in certain colors. Keep them in an eyeglass case so they don’t become scratched. Shooting glasses are great because they often come with a variety of different colored, wrap around, interchangeable lenses.
  • Ice mask/sleep mask – can be purchased from most drug stores. An ice mask can be cooled or warmed and comfort the orbits of the eyes as well as the face. A sleep mask will keep things dark for light sensitive eyes.
  • Earplugs – can be helpful for some, and may bother some Migraineurs, but might be worth including.
  • Aromatherapy – essential oils can be helpful for some Migraineurs – especially soothing lavender. These can be worn, sprayed on a pillow or blanket, or a sachet can be stored in a zippered bag for use whenever needed.
  • Flashlight – use this for getting around dimly lit rooms. Migraineurs love them as do their helpers.
  • Clock – use this to help you know when to take your next medication dose.
  • Notepad – is useful to write down the meds you’ve taken, at what dosage and when, as well as any notes for your helpers. I don’t use notepads very much, but my helpers really do.
  • Pre-printed lists – are vital information for your doctor and your helpers. These should include: any allergies, especially to medicines. Medication and supplement list including dosages and how often they should be taken. Emergency names and numbers, including family members and doctors. Printing these in large print on color coded paper and placing them inside plastic sleeves are great ideas. If your doctor has given you a prescription for the Emergency Room, this is a great place to put it.
  • Cash – A small amount of cash can be a lifesaver for everything from buying gas to get yourself to the doctor, to buying your kids lunch or yourself a much needed drink.
  • Reading material – a magazine or paperback can be a great addition, more for your helper than you. Keeping them happy means they’ll be more likely to help you out next time you need them.
  • Parenting survival bag – This post gives some good examples of things to include that may keep the kids happy and busy while you are Migraining. I had a separate tote that I kept inside my Migraine bag when I had children. The kids always felt special when they got to get that bag out, and it was a great indicator for them that Mommy really didn’t feel good, so they always tried their hardest to be quiet and good for me.

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.


  • ScottJ
    3 years ago

    Awesome list!
    Things I add to my kit: mask (odors are the worst for me), bag of ginger tea (Yogi tea is the best), adhesive stickers (to put over those stupid little lights on electronics that can sometimes feel like burning lasers on my eyes), magnesium supplements, blinders to put on the sides of my sunglasses (simple to make out of paper)

  • KatherineO
    6 years ago

    I carry four sumatriptans that I cut to size in an old Treximet sample case. Easy to find in my bag by its round shape. When my most recent Rx came, the blister pack was impossible to open by hand. There was a small icon of a scissors on the pack. Knowing it would be difficult (impossible if I had to travel) to carry a scissors around, I bought a baby scissors in a little case. No problem getting through TSA security (I’ve done it several times), and no worries about stabbing myself reaching into my bag. I showed it to my doctor and he laughed — it was the first baby scissors he had seen in a migraine tool kit.

  • sarahaliceinwonderland
    7 years ago

    this is such a great idea! i am often driving when a migraine comes on and am without a drink or neck pillow. i count the minutes until i pull into my driveway, which often leads to a worsening of symptoms that are harder to treat. this site is fabulous!

  • 192dhao
    3 years ago

    Hey sarahaliceinwonderland I know exactly what you mean about the migraines getting heaps worse when pulling into the driveway! I had 2 reasons for this. One was knowing I was going home to a horrible environment. Changing that has definitely helped. The other one is that I seem to have this great ability to hold myself together for just long enough to survive what I absolutely must do. For example I will be able to drive home but turn that car off and then I can barely manage to stagger inside. Or I can get through running a 3 day conference with a migraine at half strength the whole time but the moment pack up was done I had to get someone else to drive me home and stop repeatedly so I could throw up on the way.
    I was wondering do you identify with these or maybe have other thoughts on why it happens like that??

  • Ellen Schnakenberg author
    7 years ago

    Hi sarahaliceinwonderland – Thank you!!! If you come up with something I’ve missed, I hope you’ll chime in and give us your ideas too 😀

  • Kathy Jo Horton Bishop
    8 years ago

    Awesome why did I not think of this earlier I’m going to set a couple up since we will be traveling 1500+ miles to move back near our family in a few short months…’s a scary thing the move but will make life a little easier being near family and out of the storm ravaged Midwest ( the storms here are making life much worse with my migraines) thank you.

  • Jessica Madore
    9 years ago

    Great List….you might want to include a can of ginger ale or sprite and some saltine crackers for the nausea. I also keep one of those instant ice bags that you break to activate and an extra bag that I can fill with ice that ties to my head (i get them from the hospital).

  • Ellen Schnakenberg author
    7 years ago

    Great ideas 🙂

  • Christine Nordstrom
    9 years ago

    this really is great. I think I’m going to print it and have it handy for someone who often helps me. it’s so much easier than explaining things when I’m in the middle of a horrible migraine and can barely speak. and I feel sooo bad for mom’s who get migraines and still have to take care of their kids. I’ve been wanting to say that for so long. I have no children, but I do have a cat & I feel so guilty sometimes when I’m in bed for 3 days. I mean she always has food & fresh water, but I just couldn’t imagine having to take of little kid’s while going thru a migraine. I have a lot of admiration for you women who go thru those w/children. it’s hard enough taking care of yourself, but I just know I couldn’t do it. so my hats off to all of you mom’s & prayers for all of us! :0)

  • Ellen Schnakenberg author
    7 years ago

    Christine – the funny thing about kids is that we can’t use an automatic feeder for them, lol! It is hard to have kids and manage Migraines too, but it can be done. This disease forces us to be stronger than we ever knew was possible!

  • Susan Litle
    9 years ago

    great to knowthere is a site to goto in times of need.

  • Lynette J. Plude
    9 years ago

    Lots of helpful ideas…thanks!

  • Carla Dul
    9 years ago

    what great suggestions. will really have to put one of these together. thx a bunch 🙂

  • Samantha Price Fischer Kyle
    9 years ago

    That is such a wonderful idea.

  • Ellen Schnakenberg author
    9 years ago

    Jamie – awesome adds too! Anything else you can think of that might be helpful??

  • jay
    9 years ago

    instant icepack (the kind that you just break and is cold)

    my ipod. silence drives me crazy

    pen and paper- I get SEVERELY aphasic, and communication becomes a problem sometimes…

    prepaid cell phone- no one has # other than DH and few other trusted ppl- in case i need help. That way if I’m laying in bed or on the couch, i don’t have to worry about using my regular cell- or listening to the ringer…

  • Ellen Schnakenberg author
    9 years ago

    You’re so welcome Pete. I’m a real believer in simplification. The easier I can make something, the more likely I am to have an easy time of it when an attack occurs. My family used to think it was overkill, now they routinely ask me about it and if it’s packed and ready to go “just in case”. They like things to be easy for them too 🙂

  • Pete
    9 years ago

    Fantastic. I am putting together a tool bag right away. Some of the things I usually have with me, but being this prepared just makes sense. Thank you so much.

  • terib
    6 years ago

    I have suffered migraines now for over 10 yrs.. it has been a long journey learning things to manage life around them .. I have had a similar plan . I love this idea .. lots more added then i ever have .. will go repack my energency kit .. lol.. I have 2 children and when they were younger teens .. it was hard for them but they learned and managed with me .. now adults they know what it is like .. it is great to have these resources for those in early stages or those still searching for ideas to manage .. life should not end just because we have migraines ..hugs .. I have various methods of heat rice bag .. those portable heat packs for on the road meds for a few days .. long list .. my family thinks I take the house with me when I travel even for an overnight .. but never know when or how bad these attacks come .. so have to always be prepared .. as with my chronic breathing condition as well .. those go right in .. for me I have my droid for notes .. but a pad and pen are a great idea for tge others who may want to comment .. caregiver notes for dr appts .. when in my day of work it was a great tool for the residential care staff in care homes .. love the idea for ginger and nausea alternatives as well .. I get a lot of nausea and other times worse .. the meds dont always do the job .. I too carry sun glasses and eye mask ..fleece blanket small travel pillow.. I have things compartmentalized and in a small carry on bag ..even if itvis airport travel I have it on hand.. they just love me for it too .. not.. but i tell them i will not check that bag as it is my medical bag.. and if they need soace they can get someone else to check. Once I checked because I was given such a hard time .. they lost my luggage for 24 hours after I got standed for 12 in an airport .. so now I push for keeping it …and ifvthe checkin staff give me a hard time I stand my is important we have what we need when we need it .. so many things .. love your post ..

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