Migraine and Air Travel: Tips for Managing Symptoms During Flights

Migraine and Air Travel: Tips for Managing Symptoms During Flights


Migraine attacks are debilitating and can significantly impact the lives of individuals who experience them. Air travel, with its potential triggers and discomforts, can pose additional challenges for those affected by migraine attacks. However, by understanding how to manage symptoms during flights, individuals can have a more comfortable travel experience.

Preparing for the Flight

Proper preparation before the flight can significantly contribute to managing migraine symptoms. Consider the following tips:

Planning ahead and booking the right flight

  • Choose flights with less turbulence, as turbulence can trigger migraine attacks for some individuals.
  • Opt for non-stop or direct flights whenever possible to minimize the number of takeoffs and landings, which can exacerbate headache pain.
  • Select seats with more legroom or near the aisle for easier access and better comfort.

Pack a migraine essentials bag

  • Include medications and keep them easily accessible in your carry-on luggage.
  • Carry a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the flight.
  • Consider using noise-canceling headphones or an eye mask to reduce sensory triggers.
  • Pack a small pillow or neck cushion for added comfort during the flight.

Managing Triggers

Identifying and avoiding potential triggers can help prevent migraine attacks during air travel. Take the following precautions:

  • Avoid strong smells and perfumes in close proximity, as they can trigger migraine attacks in some individuals.
  • Limit exposure to bright lights and loud noises by using sunglasses and earplugs.
  • Monitor your caffeine intake before and during the flight, as excessive caffeine consumption or withdrawal can trigger migraine attacks.
  • Carry a small bottle of peppermint oil to inhale or apply to your temples, as it can help alleviate migraine symptoms.

Hydration and Nutrition

Staying hydrated and choosing migraine-friendly snacks and meals are vital during air travel. Follow these recommendations:

Stay hydrated throughout the flight

  • Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, which can contribute to migraine attacks.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, as alcohol can trigger migraine attacks in some individuals.
  • Consider adding electrolyte tablets or powder to your water for optimal hydration.

Choose migraine-friendly snacks and meals

  • Opt for foods that are low in sodium, as excessive sodium intake can trigger migraine attacks.
  • Avoid known trigger foods, such as chocolate, aged cheeses, and processed meats.
  • Pack a variety of snacks such as nuts, fresh fruits, and granola bars to keep your blood sugar stable during the flight.

Relaxation Techniques

Practicing relaxation techniques can help alleviate stress and tension during flights. Consider the following techniques:

Deep breathing exercises

Take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Focus on relaxing your body with each breath.

Progressive muscle relaxation

Tense and release each muscle group in your body, starting from your toes and working your way up to your head. This can help release tension and promote relaxation.

Meditation or guided imagery

Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a calm and peaceful place. Visualize the details and focus on the sensations and emotions associated with that place.

Additionally, using essential oils known for their calming properties, such as lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus, can enhance relaxation during the flight.

Medication Management

Properly managing migraine medications is crucial for a comfortable flight. Prior to the flight:

  • Discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider to ensure appropriate dosing and timing of medications.
  • Inquire about preventive medication options specifically for air travel, as your healthcare provider may recommend additional measures to prevent migraine attacks during the flight.
  • Keep a copy of your prescriptions and medical documents in case any issues arise during the flight.

In-flight Comfort Measures

Adjusting the environment and engaging in activities that promote relaxation can help manage migraine symptoms during the flight. Consider the following measures:

  • Adjust your seat position or use additional pillows for better support and comfort. Place one behind your lower back and another to support your neck.
  • Apply cold or warm packs on your head or neck to alleviate pain and tension. Some airlines provide cold packs upon request.
  • Practice stretching exercises and gentle neck rotations to release muscle tension.

Post-flight Recovery

After the flight, it is essential to allow for rest and recovery to prevent migraine attacks and ensure a smooth transition. Follow these post-flight recovery tips:

  • Take the time to rest and prioritize sleep to rejuvenate your body and minimize the risk of migraine attacks.
  • Continue staying hydrated to maintain optimal hydration levels.
  • Monitor any changes in migraine symptoms and seek medical attention if necessary.
  • Avoid intense physical activities immediately after the flight to prevent triggering a migraine.


Managing migraine symptoms during air travel requires careful planning and employing various strategies. By preparing for the flight, managing triggers, prioritizing hydration and nutrition, utilizing relaxation techniques, and practicing medication management, individuals with migraine attacks can have a more comfortable and enjoyable travel experience. Experiment with these tips and adapt them to your specific needs. With proper planning and self-care, you can reduce the impact of migraine attacks during air travel and make your journey more pleasant.

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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