No Longer Fearing the Unknown: How I Prepare for New Environments

No Longer Fearing the Unknown: How I Prepare for New Environments

Another day, another flight. I’ve been traveling a lot lately (and find that solo time on an airplane is when I’m inspired to write articles—one of the many benefits of escaping my normal routine!). This morning I woke up at 3 AM (groan) in order to make it to my 6:45 AM flight—I live about 90 minutes from the closest major airport.

Peppermint oil

While standing in the security line, I realized something about flying first thing in the morning: most people are freshly showered. Sounds like a good thing, right? Maybe, if not every other guy seemed to have bathed in cologne or aftershave. The security line isn’t the ideal place to enjoy personal space. Everyone was cramped close to me—I couldn’t tell who around me had product on. I smelled shampoos, colognes, perfumes, and hairsprays. All at once. Thankfully, I reached around to my overstuffed backpack and grabbed my ever-handy migraine/health zippered pouch and put some peppermint oil under my nostrils. Voilà! I suddenly smelled peppermint instead of the forty people around me.


This is one of my quick fixes when a scent threatens to trigger a migraine attack. Short of the as-yet uninvented psychic scent blocker, it’s the best tool I have for combatting unexpected odors that make my brain go into migraine overdrive.

Confession time: once, in a crowded and scent-filled movie theatre before I began carrying peppermint oil around with me, I actually stuffed tissues up my nose. I hoped against hope that everyone would be so enthralled with the movie they wouldn’t notice the adult woman with tissues protruding from her nostrils.

Noise-cancelling headphones

Another go-to trigger defense I employ is sound-related: my noise-cancelling headphones. They can hurt my ears after I wear them awhile but, they help me sleep better when I’m sharing the room with a snorer (or am in a hotel next door to partiers).

Shaded glasses

As with many of you many of you, bright lights, intense sunlight, fluorescents, strobe effects, and more can trigger a migraine for me (or strongly intensify an attack that’s already in progress). In order to combat light-related triggers, I try to always have with me at least one pair of shaded glasses (dark sunglasses with a reddish tint for sunlight, plus my TheraSpecs for cloudy days or indoor lighting).

What are some of your most reliable tools to employ when you enter an environment where you can’t control the triggers? How did you discover these tools, and do those around you ever ask you questions when you use them? Please share in the comments below—the more we toss around ideas, the stronger our personal arsenals become. And that, I hope, will lead to fewer migraine attacks for us all.

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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