Traveling with Migraines

If you follow me on Instagram (@lizabeths_travel_journey) then you know on Wednesday the 22nd I had a migraine and shared on my stories the next day how headaches and migraines are different. I also shared how migraines have impacted my life and hope people understand how severe migraines can be. The amount of love from the messages I received was truly touching as some people offered advice on how they handle them to people just simply saying feel better.


Captain Matt in the background

I often meet people who know people who suffer from migraines and how they don't wish it on anyone. And I would have to agree. Migraines run in my family and something I hope Leylah doesn't experience in her life. This is my first time speaking so openly about my migraines besides on Thursday and something I have decided to talk about. Well, blog about really.


I am a more private person when it comes to certain things, but I am no longer wanting to stay quiet about this. My hope is that anyone reading this learns how I "manage" them and it helps them in some way. I couldn't imagine migraines holding me back from seeing the world. And for anyone who doesn't know what a migraine feels like, imagine having a brick smashed perfectly in the center of your eyes and the corner piece of the brick being used. Either it's a throbbing pain that comes and goes or the pain just hangs around.


I am by no means a doctor and can only speak from personal experience in this blog.


To this day there is little research done on migraines and something I have heard from every doctor including neurologists. You would think each time of hearing the same message of "not really a medicine just for migraines" or "there isn't much research or studies on migraines", that I would be okay with it by now. To be honest, every time I hear those statements, its a punch to the face. A quick Google search shows that 1 out of 4 US households have someone in it that is suffering from migraines. How can so many people be impacted by my migraines and there is little known about them?


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I am more often compelled to not tell anyone I have a migraine when traveling because now I feel like I will be holding them back. Sometimes Matt can tell something is wrong because when the pain is really bad, I stop in my tracks to just focus on breathing. That's how bad the pain can be to where I forget to breathe. I just close my eyes and pray the pain passes very very soon.


The worst migraine I got while traveling was last year (2019) when we went to Florida for our yearly family trip. It happened during the night and woke me up which is actually quite hard to do. Since it was 3 am and I didn't want to wake anyone up, I just sat up and cried. Laying down made my head throb even more. The brick smashing between the eyes seems to intensify and feels like my head is going to explode from the pressure.


Our view from the Airbnb

That migraine was not predicted and one that caught me by surprise. I never know what day I will get a migraine and could happen at any point during the day. Since I have been getting migraines for over a decade now, I have adjusted my ways to ensure if I get one when out, I am prepared as possible. I am providing my little list of items I usually carry on me or pack in my bags just in case one strikes.


--I stopped taking "migraine" medicine because of all the side effects I would experience while taking medicine prescribed by a doctor. I recently heard that mixing Tylenol and Motrin can be an extremely effective combo and what some hospitals are using now vs. reverting to pain pills. When I travel, I keep these bottles in my bookbag which I have easy access too. The only downfall is if I go to the beach or run into town and leave the medicine at the Airbnb right when one starts.


In that case, I resort to drinking a soda. Icey cold coke cola to be exact. There has been little research on how caffeine affects migraines, shocker, however from what has been done it has been identified that caffeine can provide relief. Plus it does relieve some of the pressure a migraine can cause. This is usually a key active ingredient in over the counter medicines like Excedrin, Midol, and many more. So if I am unable to find soda, I would purchase Excedrin.


--The next item I always have on me and have learned to include in my daily life is what I and Leylah call "migraine hairbows". To be clear, there is no such thing as a migraine hairbow, that I know of, and something I taught Leylah so she wouldn't use my hairbows. Once she takes something, I somehow never see it again.


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This was an idea given to me while at work one day when my boss at the time asked me if always wearing my hair up contributed to my migraines. It was something I never really thought about, but once I did, I started to realize that the plain black hairbows with no clasp in the middle would pull on my head and sometimes would get a headache from this tight pull. (Headaches for me can turn into a migraine, so important to minimize getting headaches.) So I went out and bought the spiral hairbows and to this day I do think they help with not getting a headache.


--Something I have learned to love is my sleep mask. People who get migraines usually are sensitive to either light or sound or worse, both. For me, I am sensitive towards the light which can make the throbbing pain intensify. The moment light hits my face during a migraine, it sends a lighting shock from between my eyes to the back of my head. To ease the pain from the light, I wear a sleep mask when laying down during a migraine attack. This allows my family to use the lights and not worry about hurting me.


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The sleep mask I use fits perfectly over my eyes and doesn't mash against my eyelashes or squeeze too tight giving me a headache. The mask is made out of cloth material with slight padding which is nice when wearing for a few hours. The strap around the mask isn't too tight either and can be adjusted. It fits perfectly and lets in no light. (I use the purple mask above.)

And there you have it folks, how I prepare as best as possible for a migraine. They can strike at any minute and something that can knock me off my feet for hours if not a whole day. If you suffer from migraines, my heart is with you! You aren't alone and one-day science, medicine, and technology will advance to help us. Stay strong my friend!

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Hello Everyone, my name is Sara Elizabeth and a full-time working mom and a full-time student!

Over the years I have fallen in love with  traveling and exploring the great states of the United States! This passion grew from understanding how to find good deals on airline flights which have been the reason for many of my travel adventures. This journey has led me to find "that travel deal" for domestic and international flights. These are those kinds of deals that have people asking "How did you find them so low?" ...Well, to those asking that question, follow along this adventure of mine to learn my methods for finding that perfect travel deal. 

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