Tips for camping with kids and migraine

Camping is one of my favorite summer activities. The more the better used to be my motto.

Usually camping involves a lot of schlepping of gear, setting up of tents, cooking over fires. Add kids into the picture, and camping is a big challenge for most moms. But camping with chronic illness can be especially daunting. Not only do we have to manage all the normal details of living in the woods for a few days, we also have to manage our illness. And since extra stress can make it more likely that we might have a flare up, it’s important to anticipate and accommodate our additional needs. With good planning, it is possible to enjoy this classic American pastime, even with chronic migraines.

Top tips for camping with kids and migraine:

1- Expect the worst. That migraine will most likely disrupt at least some of your trip. By sheer probability alone, chances are you will experience an attack at some point in the span of a few days or a week. Anticipate it, don’t be shattered when the inevitable occurs. If you can accept this, then you will be freed up emotionally to plan and prepare intelligently.

2-Bring everything. Since we are assuming you will be maigraining at some point, do yourself a favor and me prepped in advance. That means you bring every single rescue med that you might need. Icehats, earplugs, sunglasses, essential oils, whatever you have in your toolbox at home, bring it all. If you’re going to have a migraine anyways, give your body as much help as possible. And just like at home, start your interventions at the first sign of an onset. Migraine won’t care that you’re camping. Don’t wait.

3- Bring the screens. This one might be controversial with some parents, but hear me out. Of course we all want our kids to experience nature and have a chance to disconnect from technology. I get that, and hopefully that’s how it will play out. But, if you find yourself laying down with an icepack on your head, do NOT feel guilty about using the tv babysitter for an hour or two. If it helps give mom or dad a much needed break, I say there is nothing wrong with letting them watch a show or movie during downtime. Also sometimes just knowing it’s an option makes the whole prospect of camping seem less daunting to a spoonie

4-Don’t go more than 1 hour away. For your own peace of mind, have an easy escape route. Of course we don’t ever plan to leave a camping trip early, But with chronic migraines you’re pretty much rolling the dice every time you try it. If it came to a worst case scenario and you’ve gotta bolt to go back home or to a hospital (god forbid) then at least make it easy on yourself. If you need to leave, it’s probably for a good reason. Also, just knowing you could easily leave can take some of the stress off.

I've experienced headaches on and off throughout my 20s. In 2016 they became more severe and I was diagnosed with chronic intractable migraines at 1 year post-partum. Since then I've begun my journey of connecting with other migraine patients and raising awareness about parenting with chronic illness

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