5 Tips to Avoiding a Migraine on Vacation


Today our family is embarking on our first international trip since our baby girl was born last year. My husband and I have never been to Portugal and we both have been dying to go, so I’m super psyched that it’s finally happening!

Prepping for travel (especially with a baby!) comes with some stress. You have to make sure you bring everything you need, get through TSA and customs and then pray there aren’t any delays. But these days, I find the thing I worry most about is how travel will impact my migraines. The key, as with most things in life is to come prepared, so I’d like to share some of my best travel tips:

1.    Snacks, snacks, snacks

This is listed first because it’s probably the most important. Airports are desert wastelands for healthy (and edible) foods, so I make sure to bring my own. Plus, because I have a number of dietary restrictions I know I may not have access to good food options until I find a grocery store at my destination. I, therefore, make sure to pack a number of portable foods that will tie me over in the airport, plane and until I get my bearings wherever we end up. Here are some of my favorites:

2.    H2O

Flying dehydrates the body, so make sure you don’t accidentally become susceptible to this potent migraine trigger. It’s rare that I’ll leave the house without my beloved water bottle, but when I travel I’m even more glued to it. I recently bought a S’well water bottle and I love it because it keeps the water nice and cool. Find a bottle you love and don’t let it leave your side!

3.    Stay on your time zone

This probably on works for a short trip, but since we’re only going to Portugal for a week, we’re going to do our best to stay on New York City time. Sleep disruption is a major trigger for me and there is nothing that will mess me up more than jetlag. Since Portugal is only 5 hours ahead of New York, we plan on eating late dinners (that’s what the do in Europe, right?) and waking up later than normal. I realize this might not be feasible if the time difference is more significant, but do what you can to minimize jetlag, both when you arrive at your destination and when you return home.   

4.    Don’t do anything exotic that will send your body into shock

A few years ago when I wasn’t in particularly good shape and I wasn’t in a good place with my migraines, I decided to go on a solo trip to Nicaragua to learn how to surf. It had been a lifelong dream and I had just accomplished a major professional milestone, so it seemed like a good reward to myself. This ended up being a HORRIBLE idea. After one (rather successful) surf lesson I was sent into a full-blown 4-day migraine.

Moral of the story? Just because you’re in a new location doesn’t mean you should forget your triggers. Exercise, especially a new type of exercise, has been a potent trigger for me in the past, so I should have known that that wasn’t the right time in my life to go surfing. If I were to do it all over again, I would have made sure I did certain exercises that mimicked surfing so my body was used to it by the time I got to Nicaragua. So, don’t make the same mistake I did – don’t do something for the first time while on vacation that you know is potentially a major migraine trigger.

5.    Remove unnecessary stress

A lot of unpredictable things can happen when you travel (anyone ever lost their bags?? That's the worst!). But there are certain things you can control, like getting to the airport several hours ahead of your flight so you’re not running to catch your plane or creating a packing list so you don’t worry that you forgot something. Stress is a very potent migraine trigger, so think about when you tend to get stressed and do what you can to avoid those stressors.


Are you guys going anywhere fun this spring? I would love to hear about how you avoid migraine chaos while traveling! Please reach out with my tips!