Traveling can be a stressful experience. Did you pack everything you need? Are your toiletries the right size to make it through security? These common traveler worries and more can easily trigger migraines, according to the American Migraine Foundation (AMF). The sheer stress of arriving safely to your destination can initiate a migraine attack. So how do you deal with, or avoid, migraines while you travel?
You need to be functional when you reach your destination, no matter if you are traveling for a weekend business trip or two-week adventure. The pain of a migraine can bring about brain fog, putting you in a haze that you can’t shake. In order to avoid migraines while traveling, you have to know your triggers. Personal triggers include stress (the most common), particular foods, smells, or lack of sleep. When you know what your triggers are, you can take steps to avoid them when you travel. Hopefully, the following tips come to your aid if you get migraines and need to make your trip headache-free.
Always Plan Ahead
Since travel will undoubtedly bring about some level of stress, get ahead of most of it by planning ahead. Organize your itinerary and your pre-travel errands or chores in advance. Don’t wait until the last minute to pack your luggage and leave yourself plenty of time to arrive at the airport, check in, and get through security. This allows for downtime prior to boarding the plane. Additionally, remember to coordinate any COVID-19 requirements for your destination (if applicable) and do the same for your return.
Many people look forward to the cuisine of their travel destination. Indulging in new foods is quite the treat, but it’s integral to eat mindfully to avoid migraines. Certain foods, including chocolate, soy sauce, artificial sweeteners, cheese, red wine, and citrus are common migraine triggers, according to research. Additionally, increasing or decreasing caffeine levels during travel can bring about migraines, so keep this in mind during your trip.
A poor night’s sleep can leave you groggy, fatigued, and can put you in an unpleasant mood from the moment you wake up. That’s just on a regular day at home! Disrupting your regular sleep schedule on a trip can make you more susceptible to migraines. It’s understandable to want to squeeze every last drop out of your traveling experience, but be mindful of getting enough rest every night. Try your best to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day to get at least seven hours of sleep per night.
Drink Lots Of Water
This is a general tip for everyday life because most people don’t drink enough water as it is. According to reports, about one-third of people who develop migraines say that dehydration is a common trigger. Make sure to load up on water when you fly, spend time in the sun, or walk around to explore your destination. If you engage in physical activity, make sure to drink extra water to account for the water you lose while sweating. Carry a water bottle at all times and consider packing electrolyte powder to enhance hydration efforts.
Relieve Ear Pressure
This applies to any travel that involves climbing to higher altitudes, either by foot, bus, train, or airplane. If you do not relieve the pressure in your ears, it can quickly turn into a serious headache or migraine attack. If you notice that build-up of pressure, try yawning or swallowing. Consider pinching your nostrils between your thumb while closing your lips and index finger and blowing gently to pop your ears. You can also chew a piece of gum as you ascend to get ahead of pressure build-up. That last tip works especially well for airplane travel.
Seek Smoke-Free Alternative
The National Headache Institute states that smoking and secondhand smoke can induce headaches, including migraines. This may not be a problem for people traveling within the U.S., but it may prove to be more of an issue if you travel overseas. Smoking indoors, or smoking in public and privately owned places, is still allowed in certain European and Asian countries. Look for nonsmoking rooms, rental cars, and seating accommodations on trains or buses. Be on the lookout for restaurants or bars that prohibit smoking, or choose a table where it won’t be as intrusive.