Travelling at the best of times is stressful (let’s face it we all enjoy the destination more than we do the journey) and when you add I migraine into the mix things get even worse. Many migraine sufferers want to travel badly but for most of us it means being in horrific pain for long amounts of time and that often what holds us back. I’ve been suffering with migraines since 2007 and they have only gotten worse as the years have gone by and travelling is the worst for me. I think it’s because most forms of transport be it a train, a bus a taxi, a boat or a plane are environments I can’t control most have very bright/ fluorescent light, they are full of strong/strange smells, They are often jam-packed with people which means there are a lot of loud sounds to contend with and all of those things are the worst triggers for my migraines which sometimes means that no matter how hard I try to prevent it I m going to end up in pain.
I’ve only done two long haul flights in my life one to Orlando and one Back home each lasting 9 hours the flight there was my first ever long haul flight lasting just over 9 hours and it’s pretty safe to say that I was in no way shape or form prepared for it and I ended up in so much pain. I had nothing with me to help other than a bottle of water so I forced myself to sleep and had I not have been able to fall asleep I don’t know how I would have dealt with the sheer amount of pain that I was in. The flight back was much better as I knew what to expect and I was much more prepared for it (thank god for the Starbucks in Orlando airport). I think that fact that our flight back was an overnight flight help a lot as well as I was already tired which meant I was able to relax and nap intermittently. Since we got back and started planning our next trip I’ve been doing nothing but research into what I need to do to be as prepared as I can be for flights and how I can deal with the pain If I’m not able to prevent it.
My top tips for both long haul and short-haul flights are: 1) Make sure you are as prepared as possible, 2) Medication – Pack all of the medication you are legally allowed to take on that plane with you in your carry on, 3) Pack an eye mask for sleeping on the plane in your carry on, 4) Pack ice strips planes are cold but ice strips will still help (unless cold triggers you migraines in which case I would suggest a heat strip alternative – if they make them), 5) STAY HYDRATED – this is so important take the biggest bottle of water you can with you on the plane it will help you more than you think (on the way back from Orlando I had a big bottle of water and the largest drink Starbucks do and it helped me so much),6) bring your own food and make sure its balanced (something sweet and something salty to balance electrolytes) I have so many food triggers that I brought my own food just in case I couldn’t have the food on the flight (which I couldn’t because it all contained mushrooms which I’m allergic to), 7) Bring Ear Plugs / Noise cancelling headphones, 8) Pack sunglasses – I can’t deal with any kind of light when I have a migraine and sunglasses help so much.
The worst mode of transport for my migraines is Trains and we go on a train journey to Manchester almost every other weekend (it’s worth it to see my family though) they are horrible and my head just can’t deal with them. The lighting is horrible and its on no matter what time of the day you travel so you really can’t escape it, they are so cramped all the time (thanks first transpennine), just like planes they are full of people, loud noises and strong smells that are only amplified by how confined the space is. My tips for trains are almost exactly the same as planes though aside from the eye mask sunglasses are just fine for the train. Luckily I never really have to travel on my own so if I do end up in a lot of pain my fiancé will always make sure I’m okay and does everything he can to help.
All in all if you suffer with Migraines and travelling tends to trigger your migraines there isn’t much you can do to stop them from happening but there are lots of things you can do that will give you a little bit of relief until you get home and you can control the your environment a little bit more. If you suffer with migraines and they get worse while travelling let me know about your experiences in the comments and if you think I’ve missed anything will help off my tips list let me know.
Speak to you all again soon. Happy Steeping – Kimberley