Vacationing with Your Migraines

I just recently came back from Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. I have to say I love the mountains. I love the crisp, cool air. The way it smells… piney? Something in the air should be canned and sold. It is peaceful and majestic. So I love to go there to get away from the regular stresses of life. However travelling with migraines is in-itself an adventure. There are more than a few things to consider.


1)      Where to go- Factor in where to go. Because weather plays a big role. So is it cooking hot where you are going? Freezing cold? What sort of adjustment do you need to do for those conditions? Or would you prefer to choose someplace more moderate. I’ve been to Scotland and I have to say that overcast weather they have going on so migraine friendly. Loved it. If you are going to somewhere vastly sunny, which I have always avoided, I personally would recommend one of those big floppy summer hats and massive sunglasses. I would also recommend limiting sun time for certain specific durations and alternating it with shade time.

2)      How to travel- Plane, train, boat, car. If you are like me and you have migraine associated vertigo (Vestibular migraines) then this choice is quite important. I prefer not to travel by plane because the result is a week of bad vertigo. Sort of like walking like a drunk vertigo. I unfortunately have the same reaction with anything that moves, it just varies in intensity. Another issue I have with planes is they give me a killer migraines, so I need recover time from that right from the get go. Therefore, I prefer car, even though that also causes vertigo but this has limited my travels lately to in country. 

3)      Where to stay- I add this in there because I have other chronic pain conditions. So I always stay in hotels. I cannot camp. The pain from an air mattress cannot be underestimated. Seriously. But also when camping if you consider some of the more, er, flu like symptoms of a migraine having bathroom facilities in easy access is a very good thing.

4)      What to bring.- now we all have our list of vital things to add I am sure. This is mine:


Hat- loose comfortable hat to block sunlight but not tight on the head

Meds in my med sorter. Tripans, of course. Then my just in case meds. And then some OTC may need just in case meds for special case scenarios. Especially for nausea and IBS-D

Books for insomnia. Tablet for Facebook when I have insomnia. 

Japanese mint oil for my forehead and temples. Bio freeze for my neck. (migraine balms I have also used)

My rose tinted specs

Depending on where you are going you can bring your favourite ice bag

I sometimes bring my pillow, because I really flat pillow is what I need for my neck


When we are travelling I am very careful what I eat on the road because I can never predict how my migraine digestive system will react to the food. So no food full of fat and grease for me. Danger! Danger! No one wants that kind of migraine 30 km before the next rest stop. Just saying. I also like to have plenty of fluids which helps with hydration… not so much with pee stops, but there is no help for that one.

It is important with chronic migraines to understand this is a vacation. Restful and fun are key ingredients. You do not need to be busy every minute. You want to moderate the things you do and give yourself some relaxing down time. Activity, down time, activity, down time, activity, down time. Usually I am done for the day then. I am pretty mellow on vacations and have to be with chronic pain. We choose a few things to do and stick to that. Makes for a very relaxing, stress free trip. This makes it also allow you to have the flexibility to take a break when you have a migraine. Take medication, have a nap. This is a vacation… not the Quest for the Holy Grail. You don’t have to push through the pain on a vacation. Nor do you need to have a long vacation. Sometimes short little trips to get away and distress are just perfect for us.