Thursday, July 4, 2013

Traveling With #Migraines

The word vacation is supposed to evoke images of beautiful locations, amazing meals, fun and relaxation. With limitless possibilities, the vacation is supposed to be the regularly scheduled reward for all the hard work of daily life. That image of vacation sounds like something everyone could benefit from.

The thing is, I can't say that I've ever been on a vacation like that. Vacations are stressful, and that's before you ever even think about adding the many complicating factors imposed by chronic migraines. You have to pack everything you will need and drag it along with you. You have to either drive or fly to some location. You have to pay out the nose to stay in some hotel and to eat every meal out. You are living out of a suitcase. You are on vacation so you have to go around and have fun - let's hope the activities you choose are fun because that is the expectation.

I remember seeing a news report recently that cited the anticipation of a vacation as more enjoyable than the vacation itself. The actual vacation has little hope of living up to the crazy expectations imposed on us by the travel industry and ourselves. The brochures, the advertisements, the websites, facebook photos of our "friend's" trip...they all paint a picture of perfection. A world where nobody gets food poisoning, luggage is never lost, bed bugs don't exist, a tiny bottle of water doesn't cost $5, you know, perfect.

Since the onset of my chronic migraines my husband and I have been on three short vacations in addition to several trips to visit family. What I've come to realize is that I no longer enjoy vacations. I hate being away from home because traveling ALWAYS destroys my routine. Everything becomes harder; sleeping, eating (further complicated by being a vegetarian), staying hydrated, pacing myself, treating my migraines and managing the plethora of symptoms. I don't have the energy to make the most out of any vacation because I can only do so much in one day. Frankly, I just can't justify the expense of vacationing in my condition.

Traveling to visit family is different. It's one of those things that needs to be done. My mom and sister live about an eight hour drive from here and so travel we must. Here are some of the things I do to try to enjoy myself as much as possible on these trips:

1. Take our dog Gypsy with us. My mom's house is a super dog friendly place so thankfully she is welcome. Having her around is a good stress reliever and actually helps me to maintain some sense of routine.
2. Planning time to see old friends. Talk about doing something great for the soul. Nothing like sitting in front of dear old friends to make a gal feel great.
3. Remembering that there is great fun in some really simple activities can help me to avoid getting involved in things that will overtax me. Sitting around and talking, playing games, having a fire pit, a meal...these are good ways to have quality fun with loved ones. Suggesting these kinds of activities usually works.
4. Always remember to take all my migraine gear; medications, hat, shades, comfortable clothes, water bottle, etc. Thankfully my mom makes provisions for me as well, like room darkening curtains she puts up before we arrive.

I'm still holding onto a hope that I'll get better at managing my symptoms in general and that traveling won't be so difficult in years to come.


  1. Definitely agree on this. All the stress into packing and worrying about my health while away from home is enough to make me never want to leave home. I cannot travel in a car more than 6 hours without getting anxiety so we try to do family stuff close to home! Nice picture of you and hubby! Happy 4th

    1. Thanks Mamie! Hope you had a great 4th too.

  2. I'm so glad you've been able to take your dog with you. One of the biggest stressors I have is my inability to take my pets with me. I am with them 24/7 otherwise, and leaving even for a week concerns me. They do provide a wonderful need for routine!

    1. Hope that your trip to Alaska goes well. I'm sorry you are not able to take your beloved pets with you.

  3. I am sorry that you are unable to enjoy vacations anymore :( However it is a nice list. The best addition is your dog. Healing hugs

  4. I know how you feel. The packing in itself for all your medical supplies is daunting and stressful. I hate packing. But at least you can take your dog. I want to take our dog the next time we plan a trip. We don't go on one very often, as due to my chronic illness and now we have the dog to take into consideration. I'd be lost without his comforting presence.