How to stave off migraines while travelling


Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash

Unfortunately for migraine sufferers, a lot of the effects of travelling can trigger a migraine. Plan ahead to hopefully prevent and efficiently treat a migraine so as not to ruin your holiday plans. 

According to a survey by Irish pharmaceutical company Novartis, nine out of ten Irish migraine sufferers are fearful of their next attack. 

Being aware of potential triggers can help prevent and alleviate the pain of migraines. Here are some tips for tackling migraines on holiday:

Know your migraine

This may be obvious to long-time migraine sufferers. But if you haven’t kept a headache diary, it’s time to start so that  you can familiarise yourself with your potential triggers. Dr Eddie O’ Sullivan, GP and Clinical Director of the Headache/Migraine Clinic, Cork University Hospital, recommends that people keep a detailed headache diary so their migraine, and likely triggers, can be accurately identified and diagnosed for effective treatment. Migraine diaries are available through the Migraine Association of Ireland or by downloading the free Migraine Buddy app.

Give yourself plenty of time

Packing your bags, travelling to your destination and navigating your way around unfamiliar locations can cause a lot of stress. Don’t add to the pressure, and instead, plan ahead, allow extra time and do your research about all necessary transport and check-in arrangements. 

Wear sunglasses as much as possible

Bright, direct sunlight is a common migraine trigger. Wear sunglasses when in natural light and also while driving to help prevent a light-induced headache. 

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Dehydration causes tiredness and fatigue which can prompt an attack. Get in the habit of carrying water with you, even when in-doors, as you may discover not all buildings in warm countries have air-conditioning. 

Rest when you can

It can be tempting to pack it all in, especially on a quick city break. But trying to do too much can leave you feeling drained, which will make you susceptible to a migraine attack. Pace yourself, take opportunities to sit and rest where possible, and plan in some relaxing activities on your itinerary too.

Book your seats if possible

Sometimes travelling backwards or sitting at the back of the bus can make people feel unwell. Choosing your seat ahead of time will ensure you are as comfortable as possible. 

Prevention where possible

There can be a lot of disruptions on holidays that can disrupt your sleep. Bring earplugs or noise reducing headphones and an eye mask to ensure a restful nap on the plane. These may also come in handy if the aircon in your room is loud or if there’s busy nightlife on the street outside. 

Migraine relief

Cool packs are handy to have in your luggage if an attack starts. Just place them in the mini-fridge in your room on arrival so they’re ready if you need them. 

Scents matter

Migraines can be triggered by smells too. Planes and heavily perfumed beauty halls in airports can be overwhelming to the senses. Pack an essential oil such as eucalyptus or peppermint to help block out other scents.

Tips provided by Novartis Ireland. 

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