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Living with Migraine : Planning for a Stress-free Vacation

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Travel and Holidays

Q: Why do I always have a migraine attack when I travel?
A: Travel creates a situation in which several potential triggers occur at the same time. There is the excitement and stress of the actual travel coupled with food triggers, possible altitude change, schedule change, and disrupted sleep patterns. Before your trip, anticipate as many triggers as possible. Plan your travel and make arrangements to avoid migraine triggers. By reducing the number of triggers, it is possible to avoid a migraine attack.
Q: How do I travel with my medications?
A: Travel may create special circumstances that you need to consider regarding your medications. Most medications must stay at room temperature; therefore, you need to avoid extremes of hot or cold. For example, you should not place your medication in luggage that will be checked at the airport or stowed in the trunk of a car. You can travel with suppositories, but these need to be refrigerated once you arrive at your destination. Most importantly, do not forget to take your medications with you when you travel; place them beside your travel documents to remind you. Finally, stay calm and enjoy the trip.
Q: I use injectable medications for my migraine. Can I take them onto a plane?
A: This depends on the level of security at the airport. Contact the airlines before your flight to find out what you can and cannot take onto the plane. You may need a note from your doctor. If you cannot travel with your injectable medications, then you and your doctor will need to alter your abortive therapy, or your doctor may be able to provide you with a prescription you can fill once you arrive at your destination.

Planning for a Stress-free Vacation

Vacations don’t have to be stressful. We choose to make them stressful with our unrealistic expectations and overspending. No wonder we end up with a headache. To prevent a migraine attack, you must make sure you do not disturb your body’s serotonin levels. You can do this by having a sensible travel and vacation plan. Make a decision to enjoy your vacation without a headache.

Avoiding jet lag

Air travel across several time zones disrupts the body’s regular sleep-wake cycle and can trigger a migraine attack. The more time zones you cross, the more jet lag you are likely to experience. The key to avoiding jet lag and migraine attacks is to synchronize your body clock with local conditions. For a few days before you travel, get up and go to bed slightly earlier than normal, if flying east, or slightly later than normal if flying west. If you arrive at your destination in the morning, try to get plenty of bright, natural light to help you stay awake. If you arrive in the evening, go to bed at a reasonable time. Try to be as well rested as possible before the flight—being tired or stressed will not help your migraine. Eat light meals and drink plenty of water during the flight.

Making a travel and vacation plan

If you are going to avoid a migraine attack during travel or a vacation then you need to make a plan. A plan will help you reduce stress and ensure compliance with your migraine treatment. The following steps will help you with your travel or vacation plan.

What are your goals and expectations?

Deciding what you want to achieve will help you stay realistic about your expectations. For example, do you want to relax, enjoy your time off, and spend time with your loved ones, or are you somehow expecting the perfect vacation with everyone miraculously changing into perfect people, getting everything they ever wanted?

What activities do you plan on doing?

Choosing activities that you enjoy and can financially afford will help you plan realistically. Consider your timetable before planning your activities. You need to avoid the stress of doing too much and not having enough time for rest.

What factors can get in your way?

You need to anticipate what might prevent you from adhering to your migraine treatment program. You will need time in your schedule for exercise and relaxation. Making arrangements for dietary needs are necessary if you want to avoid a migraine attack. You may need to shop for food and offer to help with food preparation.

What will you do if things do not go as you planned?

Anticipate travel and vacation disruptions. You may not be able to plan for every possible stressful situation, but the important thing is that you remain calm. If you start to have a migraine attack, treat it immediately.

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