Summertime can be hard on someone living with migraine. The heat, humidity, sunshine and so much more can all trigger a migraine attack. When you combine the excitement of a summer vacation with the stress of traveling, you can have the perfect storm for a summer migraine. Here are 3 tips to help make your vacation more migraine-friendly.
How Can You Survive Migraine…?
1. At the Beach
Before you put your toes in the sand, take some time to prepare for your day at the beach. Check the weather forecast and pack your beach bag accordingly. Keep your ice pack, migraine hat and medications cool in a cooler with ice if you can, and don’t forget to pack these things: .
- Medications and/or migraine devices – keep these out of the heat and sun as much as possible
- Dark sunglasses with UV protection
- A hat or visor with a wide brim
- Fragrance-free sun protection and bug spray
- Spray bottle with cool water
- Plenty of fresh water and/or drinks with electrolytes
- Snacks, especially hydrating ones like fruits and vegetables
- Ice and an ice pack or migraine hat
- An umbrella to provide shade and a comfortable chair
- A mini portable fan – if you have one!
- Migraine snacks in case you get an attack (examples that help you may be a caffeinated drink, carb/salty snack, etc.)
Head to the beach in the morning before it gets too hot and crowded. Visit the shops on the boardwalk to cool down and enjoy some gentle movement. Do not feel ashamed or guilty if you begin to experience migraine symptoms, and leave early if you need to.
2. At the Amusement Park
Theme, amusement, and water parks are all popular vacation destinations in the summer. Along with bringing the beach items listed above, there are other things you can do to help, including being mindful how you schedule your days.
- Parks normally have entertainment shows that offer seating so you can rest and get out of the sun. Some of these shows may even be inside with air-conditioning. To escape the heat, schedule viewing these shows throughout your day.
- Restaurants inside the parks can offer a respite from the sun and heat, so consider eating inside rather than outside if that is going to help you.
- Remember to wear loose, comfortable clothes and shoes that you can easily walk in.
- Bring a hand towel with you and run it under cold water in the restroom. Wear it on the back of your neck to cool off if you tend to run hot.
- Find out where the first aid station is, and don’t be afraid to go there if you’re not feeling well or just need some time to recover.
- If you have trouble walking long distances or standing a lot, you may even want to consider renting a mobility scooter.
- Finally – consider visiting parks in the morning and evening when they are less crowded. And again, don’t be embarrassed to find a spot to rest or leave if you need to.
3. On Overnight Stays
Any change in the environment, whether you’re staying at a hotel, Air B&B or with family, can trigger migraine attacks.
- When booking a hotel room, ask for a room that isn’t cleaned with chemicals and which has no added scents such as diffusers or plug-ins. You can also ask for a room that is not near a smoking area.
- If you are staying with friends or family, remember to let your host know ahead of time that you may need a space/room where you can go to be away from everyone else – a room that is dark, cool, and quiet, and where you can lie down.
- As much as possible, try to stay on a regular sleep routine.
- Schedule time for rest – actually put it on your calendar! There is often a lot of “new” or “different” activity during a vacation, and the migraine brain doesn’t tend to like change. As a result, getting a good night’s sleep may not be enough. With all the vacation activities you may need extra rest, or extra time to cool down. Add time to your daily schedule for naps, reading, or simply sitting in the air conditioning. Resting is not a waste of time. It is one way to ensure you can enjoy as many activities as possible with the lowest amount of pain.
- If you can, bring your own pillow to ensure you have the correct support for your head and neck, as well as ear plugs and a sleep mask if those are helpful to you.
Schedule Time for Rest!
Above all, remember that this is YOUR vacation. Even if you are going with friends and/or family, you deserve to take care of yourself and you NEED to take care of yourself. There’s no need to feel guilty about taking the time you need to rest, recharge, and recover during summer vacation. So try to think ahead, speak up to your travel companions about any accommodations you need, and make sure that you have your acute treatments available at all times.
Vacation can throw off our schedules and routines, leading to migraine attacks. Getting a good night’s sleep may not be enough. With all the vacation activities you may need extra rest, or extra time to cool down. Add time to your daily schedule for naps, reading, or simply sitting in the air conditioning. Resting is not a waste of time. It is one way to ensure you can enjoy as many activities as possible with the lowest amount of pain.
And finally – it can be really helpful to schedule “down time” once your vacation is over and you return home. It may seem odd to others who do not live with a chronic health condition, but for people with migraine it is often crucial. Everything that is fun and different about vacation is also a potential migraine trigger, so allow yourself the time you need to recover afterwards. And, most of all, remember have fun and take lots of pictures! Those happy memories will help carry you through during the tough times:)
Let Us Know…
How do YOU manage migraine attacks while on vacation? What must-haves do you pack in your suitcase? How do you stay cool during hot, sunny days? What accommodations do you need to ask for from your travel companions, hotel, airline, and more?