Migraines Don't Take Vacations

Recently I sat down after going on vacation to a cottage up north and wrote down all my triggers that instigate migraines when I go outdoors. It turns out I have a lot more than I thought. Overall, it was a peaceful vacation, but I still noticed more migraine activity with some of the things I’ll talk about below.

My outdoor migraine triggers

My list quickly became lengthy; it wasn’t what I expected.

  • Insect repellant and essential oil spray to “keep all bugs away” - it will also keep a lot of people away too.
  • Campfires
  • Citronella candles
  • Cigarette smoke - instant migraine
  • Fresh cut grass (I also have a terrible grass allergy)
  • Shampoos and conditioners I’m not used to
  • Sun aftercare
  • Gasoline
  • Spider spray
  • Tea tree shampoo and oil (it’s supposed to make certain bugs not want to fly on you)

Trying to avoid migraine triggers

I avoid all of these items as much as I can, but some are just inevitable. Because I have very sensitive skin and am allergic to most topical products, sunscreen is always a yes for me, but the special stuff that I use stinks.

Coming in contact with outdoor migraine triggers

We went boating every day on a pontoon to enjoy a dinner cruise and get some breeze, but those nights were cut short duets black flies that live on the water up north. They’re big, they’re ugly and they sting and leave a mark. Even the worst of the smelly insect repellent spray didn’t work - so I actually gave myself a migraine by using something that didn’t even work! We went up past the water back to the cottage to have a campfire one of those nights and lit citronella just to try to keep them away but even the smell of the burning citronella around the fire was just too much for me to handle.

Migraine triggers are inescapable

I felt like I couldn’t escape my migraines, even though I was on a vacation. Truth is - migraines don’t take vacations. Illness doesn’t take vacations. I made the executive decision to spend one whole day alone sleeping in the dark, air-conditioned bedroom and it turned out that’s what I really needed to finally feel a bit better. This doesn’t happen often, but I’d had a particularly stressful week before we went up on vacation and my engine was running out of steam.

Migraine took over my vacation

I was a bit taken aback by the fact that I felt so prepared with medications and abortives going into this week-long trip, that I thought I'd be ready for anything if it came. But this time I was wrong. And I went on to feel the effects of the fatigue of migraine for part of that week. I was eventually able to have some migraine-free days, but I felt they came at a cost. I did experience the post-vacation hangover effects that lasted at least 2 days when I got back and ended up needed an abortive nasal spray that I really hate using due to having to ration that medication.

What are you experiences camping and going on short or long vacations and how do you handle your migraine triggers on the road?

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