an airport airplane at sunset

Traveling by Plane with Migraine

Sometimes I feel like a vacation is a migraine experience. There is the pre-vacation stress of packing everything from enough clothes to all the needed medications. Then the actual vacation experience of being out of the normal daily routine. Finally, there is the post-vacation drain. Additional challenges include getting through TSA checkpoints and flying.

How do I plan my flights?

Packing for a vacation can be stressful. It can be even more challenging to pack for a trip that involves a plane ride. The first thing I do is look up the airline’s rules for luggage. Since I normally fly with Southwest, I have most of their luggage–based rules memorized. Despite this, I do go to their website to make sure that I do not have any issues.

Do I bring a carry on or check my bag?

I personally prefer to use the carry on luggage option. While it takes some finesse to get packed for carry on verse checked luggage, it can be done! It is important to make sure your suitcase is within the airline’s carry on approved dimensions. Also, it is important to make sure your liquids are within the airlines approved quantity and sizes.

I personally choose to carry on instead of checking my luggage to reduce the stress at the airport. It removes having to worry about luggage getting lost. Furthermore, it also removes the stress of having to retrieve luggage, especially during a layover.

How do I pack for migraine?

When flying, I travel with a carry on suitcase and a backpack for my personal item. I have a good-sized makeup bag for my migraine toolkit. I have my abortive medications, along with my pain and nausea medications in this bag. This makeup bag goes into the backpack that I carry.

I keep these medications in my backpack because I may need them during my flight. While carry on luggage is with you on the plane, you do not have access to it during the flight. I also pack some extra snacks, just in case.

How do I navigate TSA with medications?

I have flown many times and never had issues with TSA inspections. My snacks are never an issue. Since there is an issue with liquids, I do purchase a water bottle or two once I am by the gates. Living with migraine has taught me how important it is to stay hydrated. This year, I experienced my first TSA stop.

What happened when I got stopped?

I cannot explain how nervous I was when they started going through my backpack. The TSA agent pulled out my migraine toolkit and started looking at everything that was in there.

At first, this was a bit embarrassing to me. I have so many prescriptions and they were looking at all of them. then I became concerned about my Imitrex injections. The pharmacy label goes on a box and not the individual injectors. Luckily, I had cut the label off of the box and stuck it in my bag with the loose injectors.

Aside from the embarrassment and temporary nervousness, my TSA stop did not have any other results. I did have to repack my backpack to the way my OCD brain approved.

What are my final words of advice?

It is very important to do your research if you plan to fly. Manage your stress as much as possible to attempt to prevent a migraine from occurring on the day of travel. If you feel as though the stress is unmanageable, try taking an abortive as a preventative measure.

Most importantly, keep your migraine toolkit on hand. If you choose to check your luggage, do not put your medications in your checked luggage. There is always the risk that the airline could misplace your luggage.

Have you had experiences with TSA while flying? Do you have any plane-related traveling tips or tricks?

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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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