While many people benefit from a change in routine, or anything that breaks up the tedium or monotony of their everyday lives, such change can be a migraine trigger to those who are particularly sensitive to disruptions in routine. The act of traveling is probably not to blame as much as it is the change in environment. Travel usually brings with it a change in weather, sleep, and diet.
Sometimes, though, the travel itself could contribute to the triggering effect. Migraineurs tend to be more sensitive than the general population to motion sickness. Long car rides, any sort of travel by sea, or even air travel lends itself readily to motion sickness because the body is changing acceleration and direction without the brain's foresight into these changes. Altitude is also a trigger factor for some people. See Chapter 6 for more information about how to mitigate and work around these potential triggers.
How can migraineurs manage a migraine-free vacation? Being prepared goes a long way toward having a successful trip. If a certain breakfast cereal is an important part of your routine, for example, bring it with you. Try to go to bed and rise at the same times that you normally do, since maintaining predictable sleep patterns will help ward off a migraine attack. If you know that you cannot get comfortable sleeping on a hotel pillow, bring your own pillow from home. The extra luggage is well worth it when the alternative is missing part of a vacation due to migraine.
For migraine sufferers, getting migraines under control (or at least to the point where you know what your triggers are) is a major life accomplishment. It can take years to recognize these triggers, and doing so involves painful trial and error. When you finally feel in control of your migraines, it is as if an enormous weight has been lifted.
Make sure to bring both abortive and preventative medication in your carry-on baggage on any trip. Pay attention to early warning signs of an impending migraine and address those symptoms promptly. Educate travel partners about migraines so that friends and family can help with trigger avoidance.
Travel has the potential to upset this precious balance. New foods, surroundings, weather, and smells can wreak havoc with anyone who is susceptible to headaches, and even more so to the migraineur. Avoiding travel at all costs is possible, but it puts rather harsh limitations on the ability to visit friends and family, not to mention travel that might be required for work.
If a decision has been made to travel, prepare as much as possible. Talk to a physician about medications specific for travel-related anxiety. Always bring regular medication, and try to mitigate changes to routine as much as possible. However, in some cases, that weekend trip to the Poconos or that already-stressful family reunion might be worth skipping. If the trip in question is really unnecessary or not wanted in the first place, give it a miss.