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What’s Your Secret: Travel Tips

Is it possible to navigate the high stress experience of a travel day without triggering a migraine attack? With the bright lighting and loud noises of airports; the pressure changes of air travel; the strong smells and rough driving of taxi cabs; the exposure to different foods; and, the stress to make to every connection on time, it’s no wonder that travel is high on the list of triggers for migraineurs.

In this What’s Your Secret video we discuss various ideas and hacks that might increase the chance of a migraine-free travel day.

Sharing your travel tips

Please share the comment section below any tips you have learned that can make a travel day more successful. What do you bring with you? How do you manage? What works? What doesn’t? Do you have any war stories to share?

If you have questions you’d like to pose to the Migraine.com community for the What’s Your Secret Video Series, please add them to the comment section below, or go to the Q&A page and submit your question there. We have a wondrous resourceful community with a wealth of information and support just waiting to help each other.

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.

Comments

  • booksontape
    1 year ago

    The main thing that I do when flying is take 10mg of prednisone a half hour before the flight takes off. This was recommended by Dr. Lawrence Robbins in his book on Management of Headache…It decreases inflammation. it also helps if you are traveling in areas where th altitude is high.
    I also have my rescue meds handy. Bring a pillow, audio books on my phone, drink lots of water and eat on my regular schedule.
    Even with all of this I can get a migraine but it won’t be as severe and I can control it better with my usual medications.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    1 year ago

    These are really great tips. I’d never heard of the one-time steroid use idea. Sounds ingenious. And the book is intriguing as well. Thanks for chiming in to share what you’ve learned.

  • Lynda Hillebrenner
    1 year ago

    Ironically, this a perfect time to address how to prepare & travel w/o a debilitating migraine attack. I leave Friday evening for a 2 stop flight to Scotland, from the Midwest. Yes, unfortunately it is an overnight flight!! My whole family is going, so no option to take a different flight. I know to carry all medications in their prescription bottles, in carryon and to drink lots of water, the air is really dehydrating & we know that’s not good. I’m taking healthy snacks and a travel pillow. I know from experience to use pressure release earplugs & to take some pseudoephedrine to help my sinuses or Benadryl to help make me sleepy or both. I will also take nausea medication & anti anxiety meds before take off. My husband is traveling with me, so no stress about getting around unknown airports. I have prepared myself for the big possibility that I won’t sleep, although I hope this time is different from all (20+) the long late flights I have made. I can’t sleep sitting up & we are not flying first class. I will hopefully be able to get a super night’s sleep Thursday, be packed way ahead of time & get some exercise in before we leave. I will Download an interesting mystery book to keep me distracted & bring my charged up iPod, with meditation music, as well as relaxing music. I’m also taking my eye shield, light blocking cover in case it’s not dark enough. Fortunately we arrive in Scotland in the early evening, so I’ll eat & go to bed early. And pray!! A lot! My family (2 daughters & their family) is going because of our Ancestry & because it is on my bucket list & after I almost died two years ago from emergency abdominal surgery, they want to share as many adventures as possible with me. Yes, I’m blessed & even more so since I be traveling with my own ‘special’ Chiropractors. One of my daughters & her husband.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    1 year ago

    Hi Lynda! I can’t imagine any way you could’ve been better prepared! I’m sorry to have been slow in responding except that I, too, have been traveling.

    I’m very curious to hear how your trip went. Were you successful at avoiding an attack during your travel days? And how was the wondrous adventuring you and your family planned to enjoy together? You have quite a story and we’re so glad you shared it with us! If you have time, let us know about your travels!

  • SkiingIsBelieving
    1 year ago

    I have to travel on less-than-idea and very long flights a lot since I live in Alaska and most flights out of state are red-eyes; plus a trip to visit family on the East Coast can be longer than an international flight (13-18 hours is not uncommon.)

    I wear anti-nausea acupuncture wristies, bring a heavy eye mask, essential oils to mask smells, & my abortive and Zofran in my pocket so it can’t be left behind, stolen, or misplaced. I listen to meditation apps on my iPod which helps me stay calm during take-offs and landings when I occasionally get claustrophobic.

    I learned from Carl on the Migraine World Summit that it can also help to take a couple of Advil before you fly, to reduce tissue inflammation in advance of any stressors. And of course, I drink a ton of water and eat as cleanly as I can–no sugar, I bring along fresh foods, and I don’t eat out anything that could have MSG or additives (broths, sauces, etc.) Airports are getting better with cleaner food, thank god. But it’s always best if I bring most of my own on board.

    I have a watch-style anti-nausea/headache electronic device that I have yet to try, but hope to demo in advance of my next flight.

    I ask family members who meet me upon arrival to bring things that help in case I had an attack–cold carbonated water, ice pack, etc. And if I’m not visiting family, and traveling for work instead, I don’t plan anything immediately upon arrival (even short meetings, etc.) I am often okay when I arrive–all these aids help me get them less–but I’ve found that the stress caused by worry that I won’t be able to perform can be a trigger, so I’d rather have an extra afternoon or evening in advance of any obligations and be fresh the next day.

    I hope all this helps someone. Safe travels to us all!

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    1 year ago

    You sound like a travel-warrior! Thank you for sharing your well-earned wisdom from the skies and the road. You have helped many (including me!) by providing this information.

  • chica22
    1 year ago

    During travel I avoid caffeine and alcohol and try to eat low salt foods. Eating in restaurants makes me swell up from salt and the fat in this foods makes me feel awful. So I try to keep my body even keel as much as possible…..inconvenient but works for me. Plus, I stay on my sleep cycle 10:30pm to 6:30am as much as possible…..never take Red-eye flights or very early flights even if it costs more. Even keel is my friend.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    1 year ago

    Indeed! Even more important than usual to stay careful as to diet and sleep restrictions while traveling as we’re exposed to so many other unknowns and things we can’t control. Thanks for your comment!

  • lisasdream
    1 year ago

    My traveling war story: A few years ago before I learned all the tricks for traveling with migraine I had to go from Florida to San Jose Ca to visit my daughter ( im originally from Ca) I was with my 13 year old son. I had a stop in San Diego. Well almost two hours into a 4 hour flight i started to feel nausea and a headache. I knew it was coming but i had nothing with me and couldnt lay down. I ended up in the bathroom throwing up non stop, migraine pain was full on with dizziness. I couldnt leave the bathroom and the plane landed in San Diego while I was in the bathroom. The EMT came on board after everyone had gotten off, I was laying down in the back holding puke bags with non stop puking. They took me off, my blood pressure was very low, and took me to the hospital in San Diego. They put me in the emergency dept right next to a slamming loud door that was opening and closing over and over again, they gave me nothing for nausea and just kept giving me shots of Imitrex which did nothing for me but that is all they had, I had been puking for about 3 hours straight at that point and was so dizzy and in so much pain i couldnt even open my eyes or walk or get up. The ER doctor just kept saying I cant admit you for a ” headache” yes she told me that as I lay there in horrible pain, puking my guts out and dizzy. After about 7 hours laying by that door and about 3 in the morning she finally admitted me and they took me to a room and i got to go to sleep, cause at that time thats all i could do is try and sleep it off. Of course I missed my connection, I knew no one in San Diego, I stayed in the hospital for 2 days before I was able to get up and walk out on my own. So i went to a hotel, rescheduled my continuing flight and finally made it to my destination the following day after spending the night in a hotel. A complete nightmare with completely unsympathetic health care people. I now have an arsenal of things to get me through traveling.

  • SkiingIsBelieving
    1 year ago

    I had a migraine in flight once–not nearly as bad as yours–but nothing is worse than puking in an airplane bathroom. I always carry an ondansetron in my travel bag now which usually works; even if the pain comes, I don’t puke. I can’t believe they didn’t give you that (or something) at the hospital! I’d love to hear what else you carry now.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    1 year ago

    THIS sounds like an absolute nightmare! Would you mind sharing what is your arsenal that helps you avoid a repeat of such a horrid reality? So sorry you went through such an ordeal! I think that’s every migraineur’s greatest fear while traveling!

  • lisasdream
    1 year ago

    I have a whole arsenal for traveling. I have an electronic band I wear on my wrist, I take an Amerge before i get on board as well as Zofran for nausea. I also take alcohol swabs which I put across my nose for nausea, a tip I recently learned which really helps with nausea.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    1 year ago

    I was looking at one of those versions of the electronic bands for motion sickness/nausea just yesterday. Does it work well for you for nausea in general? Do you mind sharing the brand you use? I’ve never heard of using alcohol swabs for nausea Thanks for that tip as well!

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