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Can someone please prescribe me a week-long vacation?

I think I need a vacation.

No, scratch that. I know I need a vacation.

This may sound preposterous for any of my friends and family who know how often I travel. I take a few trips a year, that’s true, and I spend a big chunk of my earnings on exploring the world. I am profoundly lucky that way. But I want more.  Please hear me out before you think I’m totally spoiled (I say this while acknowledging my privilege, I promise).

The majority of my trips are work-related. True: I love my job, and I love going to conferences and talking about books and bookstores all day and night. Traveling with my staff is invigorating, and I am grateful that my bookshop is successful enough that we have a budget for continuing education opportunities and comfortable hotels (even if we have been known to sleep four to a  room).

My other travels are usually with Jim. About a year ago, we were on a grand honeymoon adventure, driving from Joshua Tree, California (where we got married) back home to Georgia, where we had a big wedding reception. While the trip was amazing and inspiring and full of love, it was also full of wedding-related stress, fumbling for correct directions, petty arguments fueled from “hanger” (you know: when you’re so hungry you get angry and act like a brat), and needing to make good time to get to our next destination on time.  On the drive out to California, we were traveling with a big gaggle of friends and a significant amount of luggage, wedding decor, and music equipment. On the way back home, it was just the two of us, wide open spaces, and lots of visits to cool places and national parks. But, most of the time, it really didn’t feel like a vacation. I didn’t return feeling more rested or rejuvenated. I was happy and in love and full of appreciation for the husband, friends, and family that made the journey possible—but I was totally wiped out and fairly stressed.

In April 2016 during the Migraine World Summit, Dr. Romie Mushtaq spoke almost effervescently about the importance of relaxation, mindfulness, and breathing when it comes to coping with migraine. I don’t have her exact quote (please forgive me!), but she did mention that she’s had numerous patients who had significant improvements in migraine after going on a relaxing vacation. That’s right—next up I just need to get my neurologist to officially prescribe that!  Seriously, though, her comment got me thinking…and thinking…and thinking.  Since watching that video, I haven’t been able to stop surreptitiously searching for vacation destinations and tropical getaways. I’ve looked at AirBNB rentals in beach towns that are an easy drive from here, and I’ve scoured the internet for all-inclusive deals as far away as Central America.

Going out of town isn’t so easy, though. First off, we are barely catching up now on all the wedding expenses we incurred last year—and we had a lot of help, especially from parents, on that front. My husband and I both have jobs that are going well for us, but those jobs allow us to just barely make ends meet—there’s really not much cash left after the bills are paid and food is on the table. Jim’s also an undergraduate in college at the moment (quick cheer for “nontraditional” students like him!), and we’re both working on becoming better entrepreneurs.

Despite all these factors, I can’t stop my wanderlust. While I love going on high-adventure trips with busy schedules and lots of exploring, right now what I’m yearning for is the sort of getaway where I can totally unplug, get some writing done (or not), get some reading done, not look at my time-sucking Facebook page, not think about Avid Bookshop (unless I want to), and not have to report to anyone but myself. I want naps in the shade, dips in blue-green water, lap swimming, and some light snorkeling. I want midday lunches of veggies and salads and fruit juices on the side.

Can any of you identify with my yearning? Has anyone here ever taken a vacation and ended up having an improvement in your migraine? If you were your own doctor (albeit a less-than-traditional one), what kind of vacation would you prescribe for yourself? 

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.


  • Lucy
    4 years ago

    I’m a traveler too and I can recommend you hundreds of places. The only unfortunate thing I have to tell you is that doesn’t matter how relaxed is my trip, I still get my migraines. What I have decided is to:
    – leave time (3-4 days) after each landing for pampering the migraine because changes in altitude always produce a migraine to me.
    -Stay at a place where I know I can go and rest in a bed when I get the migraine. Sometimes friends’ homes is not a good idea bec you have to look alert and be a good guest all the time. You can not go to a friends’ house to spend 3-4 days in bed.
    -Don’t pay for tight tours that occupy all my days bec I know I need to rest in order to pamper/prevent migraines. In other words: design my own tour and play it by ear every day.
    -Drink lots of water (bottled if it’s a 3rd. world country) all the time.
    -keep sun glasses all the time bec intense sun also produces migraines.
    -When I went to China, I had someone to write in Chinese on a paper: “Please, no monosodium glutamate. I get sick with it.” (MSG produces migraines)
    -EAt fresh foods and stick to your routine schedule as much as possible (disruptions in schedules also produce migraines).
    -Tell people you get migraines so they will be understanding.
    -Bring your own medication

    Even with all those prevention rules, I still get migraines even in the most wonderful beach but I still travel. I just make sure I can play by my rules.


  • brianne
    4 years ago

    I thought this article was going to be about needing a vacation from migraine, not an actual “normal person” vacation. If we could all be so lucky. A week free of migraine?! Sign me up! I wouldn’t care where I was.

  • 2mnyheadaches
    4 years ago

    I usually get 1 week long vacation per year, last week was my vacation. I have noticed over the last 3 years that while I am on vacation I get significantly less migraines than when I am at home working. When I do get a migraine on vacation it can usually be attributed to lack of sleep or not eating at my regular meal times. At home it seems like even I keep a rigid schedule with sleeping and eating I still get regular migraines. It makes me wish that I could either stop working or even find a different job with a more flexible schedule instead of being stuck in an office with fluorescent lights behind a computer for 8 to 9 hours a day, five days a week. I often ask myself “Could I have a normal life if I didn’t work?” I probably will not ever know the answer to that question. But I do recommend a non working vacation for everyone.

  • Maureen
    4 years ago

    I am blessed to travel often, not for work but to visit friends or to accompany my husband when he travels to minister. He works, I travel:). And I love to be a tourist and read every historical marker and go on every docent led tour. Truly. I am a nerd. And I’m a people person, so I love this stuff! But it can be exhausting, not a vacation, to travel.
    But I also am blessed to truly vacation almost yearly. This is what I recommend for you who are weary and need to get away. Go in the off-season. Rent a house or condo. Stay beachfront or lakefront or riverside, but definitely get to the water. If the weather is bad, the view is still great. If the sun is too strong or too hot, sit on the deck and listen to the water. If you can’t get out of bed, you can still hear and smell the surroundings. And when you do feel well, there is very little to keep you from entering in. Go for a walk, or not. Sit on the beach, or not. Swim, or not. Explore, or not. Eat out, or not. Invite company, or not. PAY FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO CLEAN AT THE END.

    My personal goal is to read a book a day and to walk on the beach every day. I bring binoculars and watch birds migrate. It is my happy place, even when chronic migraine has me in an unhappy place. It is a happy tradition that I look forward to, that I enjoy while doing, that I remember fondly. (I feel better just talking about it.) Truly a vacation that rejuvenates.

  • Kate
    4 years ago

    I find my constant NDPH pain is much reduced and I’m much less likely to get a migraine during a vacation, even if I’m much more physically active than usual (which typically I don’t do well with). The results don’t seem to last though. As soon as I’m back to work the increased pain is back. My pain is always much much worse at work. I wish not working was an option, but I’m making it work as long as I can.

    I don’t feel overtly stressed in my daily life and am quite privileged in that area (don’t have any struggles with money, family, etc), but I imagine the little daily stressors wear on our bodies. Its been shown that the bodies of folks with headache conditions over react. Taking a personal day off work helps me some when I get worn down. Actually getting away seems to be better than just taking a staycation (I think its the whole not having to make food for yourself or do laundry or drive anywhere and such), but everything helps. Best wishes.

  • Mr FBP
    4 years ago

    I know what you mean about travelling for work – the novelty son wears off, no matter how nice the hotel.

    It sounds like you need to just plan the vacations you do take to be therapeutic. Is “holiday at home” an option. Just take the time out, turn off the wifi for a week (or set it to only be on for a couple of hours a day) and explore the lesser visited towns around you that might have a coffee shop where you can sit and read in return for buying a drink an hour.

    Any house sitting you can do for friends for a week? Where you just move in with a stack of books and a few notepads. Do yo know how to turn off notifications on your phone (my wife doesn’t and it drives me crazy that she never turns it off – but that’s another story).

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