Migraine and Holidays CE (Covid Era)
After 2 years of lockdowns and feeling trapped, we’re finally free to fly off on our holidays. Personally, I cannot wait!
However, as migraineurs, some precautions are needed to make the best out of your long-awaited holiday. So, here are a few tips to help us through the holidays, weekends away, overnight stays and the rest of summer.
Before you go (Apologies, we can’t get away from Covid just yet)
- Check the Covid-19 policies at your travel carrier, tour operator, destination, and hotel – Some countries no longer require covid certs or negative tests, but others do, and some countries are doing random antigen testing on arrival, so it’s best to be prepared to avoid any needless hassle.
- Visit the DFA’s travel wise site https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/
- Organise your passport renewal well in advance – there are currently delays with passport renewal so the earlier you apply, the better. Check the Department of Foreign Affairs for information https://www.dfa.ie/passportonline/
- Arrange travel insurance and your European Health Insurance Card early to get them out of the way.
- Make arrangements to have your pets minded while you’re away so you won’t be worried about them.
- Do as much preparation as possible in the weeks coming up to the holiday and avoid leaving everything ’til the last minute.
- If flying from Dublin Airport and you’re worried about getting caught up in the queues their website provides travel updates https://www.dublinairport.com/covid-19/covid-19-travel-advice
- If possible, take the two days before your holiday off to relax and prepare yourself mentally.
- Arrange travel to and from airports or ferry ports well in advance so you won’t have to worry about it closer to the time.
- Make copies of your itinerary and keep them on you so you’ll have them to hand should you need them
- Make a checklist of everything you need and tick it off as you pack so you know you’ve forgotten nothing. You don’t want to have a ‘Home Alone’ moment on the plane. Of course that is the worst case scenario, but a list makes sure you remember important things like your medication, chargers or even your favourite toothbrush.
- Make sure you have all your medication with you. Some countries require you to bring your prescriptions as well, so make sure you have them packed too
- Ask the doctor for a short note explaining your need for your medication. It will help if you need added medication, to see a GP abroad or for customs. Ask your doctor for an extra prescription or extra medication if you’ll be away for a while.
- If you’re bringing extra medication, don’t keep it all in one bag in case one gets accidentally sent to a more exotic location.
- If you are going to a foreign country, it’s a good idea to check out where the local health/medical centre/GP is and if anyone there speaks your language.
- Check to see if that country has a national migraine organisation which might give you information on where to go for help.
- Keep a Migraine Identity Card on you that you can hand to a person should a severe attack occur, and you can’t communicate – we can supply you with one if need be.
- Many airports have a quiet area, prayer room or chapel, which are normally darker than the rest of the airport and much quieter which ban the use of mobile phones.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help from the airport police or staff if you need it.
- Wear shoes or sandals that can be easily slipped off and on – Although the safety advice is not to wear mules.
- Only put essentials in your hand luggage and keep your pockets free if possible.
- Keep jewellery and accessories to a minimum so you won’t have too much to take off going through security.
- Check all the hand luggage security requirements online before going to the airport to make sure you’re not carrying anything that might cause you to be stopped and searched or taken off you before you travel.
- For information on facilities at your destination or returning airport, see their individual airport websites.
- Mask up – or at least bring some with you. Some airlines require them, and some hotels may too, so again check your carrier, hotel, or resort’s Covid policy.
- If you have a condition that prevents you from wearing a mask such as Asthma or COPD, then have a letter from your Doctor explaining this and inform your carrier or tour operator beforehand to avoid any issues on arrival.
- Look at the website of your carrier and check if they have anything that might make your migraine risk worse – like strong LED lighting. Aer Lingus have quite a good section on travelling with medical conditions
- Many of the sites will also tell you whether medical Oxygen is available or allowed on board and if so in what capacities and quantities.
- Talk to your doctor beforehand about medication or alternative treatments for motion sickness.
- Keep hydrated: bring water with you everywhere you’re allowed to bring it
- If going abroad bring an extra watch and leave it on Irish time to help you figure out when to do things or use your mobile phone clock – this makes it easier to stick to your usual routine or medication times.
- Pack healthy snacks and bring them with you if possible so you’re not in danger of letting your blood sugar levels drop too far – however, don’t forget to either eat or declare them – we don’t want to see anyone on an episode of Nothing to Declare!
- Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination so you’re not rushing, so that even being stuck in traffic won’t be too stressful.
- Break your journey, even if it’s not too long a drive, stop at a town or rest stop, get out, stretch your legs, have a bite to eat and relax for a while
- If travelling on a long-haul flight or train journey, don’t be afraid to get up, stretch a bit and walk about the place if possible
- Ask for an aisle seat so that you don’t have to climb across sleeping passengers to get out of your seat or to get access to the toilet
- Tell the cabin staff that you suffer from migraine and may require their help during the journey, they will more than likely be happy to help you
- Consider trying some travel aids: some can help with nausea and others reduce the noise and help with air pressure.
- Pack a sleep mask/eye mask
- Bring polarised or specific tinted glasses to protect from glare of clouds and sunshine as well as cabin lights
- It’s handy to bring earphones with you to supply you with relaxing music or an audiobook or anti-stress meditation
- Keep an eye on the local weather forecast and prepare yourself appropriately – download an app which can give a migraine weather forecast
- Don’t allow yourself to sit in the sunshine for too long as this can dehydrate you and trigger a migraine attack
- When out and about in the sunshine, wear your sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat
- Be aware of food triggers and try to check the ingredients on menus, especially if it’s not the kind of food you would normally eat
- Don’t be afraid to experiment and try the local cuisine but keep an eye on other potential triggers
- Many migraineurs can tolerate organic wines, so if in a wine-growing region you may be lucky if you stick to the local wine and indeed the same goes for food
- Drink plenty of water and make sure you have access to water, especially in a hot climate
- Try to relax as much as possible. Whether you’re in Spain, Italy, France, or here in Ireland, take a ‘siesta’ in the afternoon if you feel the need.
- You’re on holiday, it’s your time, and so make sure you factor in some ‘me time’. Discuss this with your family and friends before you go so that it can be planned for and no one will be disappointed
- If you’re an active person and plan on doing a lot of sporting activity, don’t overexert yourself. Know your limits.
- Wind down slowly. Try to avoid the sudden stop, as the ‘let-down headache’ can be painful.
- Keep your medication on you for handiness.
- Wear protective sunglasses
- Make a packing checklist for days out, e.g., hat, sunglasses, sun cream, medication, emergency contact phone numbers, etc. Keep everything you need ready in a bag.
- Remember, it’s okay to say no!
Most importantly, have a great holiday!