Have migraine, will travel

When it comes to travel, I’ve learned the hard way. Packing for migraine is a little like packing for a small child. Both are unpredictable, have unreasonable needs, and require way too much stuff.

Packing for migraine

This summer I’m planning to travel for the first time since being disabled by migraine. I have to be prepared for anything because I can’t count on my head to always cooperate.

Back when I was still in denial about my disability, I would have tossed a few sets of clothes and some toiletries in an overnight bag and called it good. Forgetting to pack for migraine has always been a mistake. If I forget to consider the potential for attacks, it could spell disaster. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to endure the full force of an untreated attack. I’d rather not do it ever again, if I can help it.

Flying disabled

The first is a flight to Washington, DC for a weekend. Although I once worked for American Airlines, and used my free flight benefits a lot, it’s been almost 14 years since I traveled by air. This will be my first experience with the new security measures and also flying with disabilities. It’s only a 3-day trip. Yet those three  days could be a nightmare if a nasty attack hits when I’m alone and unprepared. I really do have to be well-stocked.

  • I don’t go anywhere overnight without my CPAP, so I have to make room for it in my suitcase.
  • Ice bags, hot packs, Tiger Balm, essential oils, and the rest of my toolkit must be packed, too.
  • Two medicines need refrigeration, so I will pack them in a soft-sided, insulated bag with single-use ice packs to transport in my carry-on bag.
  • One is an injection, so I have to make sure I declare it, too.
  • No airline will permit compressed oxygen on board the plane. I must make arrangements in advance to rent a tank once I arrive.

Seeing the in-laws

The second trip is a road trip to Colorado for a family reunion. My toolkit needs to be easily accessible during the ride.  It’s a 12 hour trip that could feel like an eternity if I’m not prepared. Plus, there are some items that are unique to this type of trip.

I can take an oxygen tank with me this time. It will probably go unused, but I don’t want to take my chances. In addition to my usual toolkit, these are must-haves:

  • the power inverter will provide electrical power for a heating pad
  • some personal fans will keep me from getting overheated
  • a few emesis bags are handy just in case
  • a cooler full of ice to fill my empty ice bag…and to stick my head in if all else fails

It would be a very long ride without them should my brain decide to misbehave.

A safe retreat

For both trips, I also need to know there is a quiet place where I can retreat during an attack. I’m not worried about the DC trip as much as the one to Colorado. Convincing the in-laws is more of a challenge. They don’t really understand migraine. Some haven’t ever believed me and certainly don’t know that I am officially disabled now. Luckily, my husband has been a wonderful advocate by insisting that a quiet room is available for me.

These are just a few of the extra preparations I make because of migraine.

What do you do to prepare for travel because of migraine?

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

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