MAV and travel


I was wondering how everyone else gets on with travelling? My reason for asking is that I am supposed to be attending a conference in Philadelphia later in the year (I live in the UK), but I am very nervous of going on a long haul flight (esp as my health insurance won’t cover me for a pre-existing condition). Pre-MAV and BPPV I never felt travel sick on a plane, although I’ve always found take off really unpleasant (in the same way I used to hate theme park rides too). On other modes of transport (boat, bus, train, and as a passenger in a car) I always get motion sick, and since I’ve been diagnosed with MAV and BPPV I have found this has been much worse. I am usually ok when I drive myself, but when my MAV was really bad, I also felt terrible for a while after stopping and getting out of the car (although that subsided within a few mins), and even sometimes if I was stuck still at traffic lights.

I’d appreciate it if anyone could share their own experiences regarding travel, and particularly about flying. Many thanks for your help.

My advice is to try and minimise jet lag by getting a flight which has you arriving at night time (go straight to bed) and doesn’t have you flying overnight and therefore missing sleep (who can sleep on planes??). Also take Valium. I take it mainly for anxiety (terrified of flying) but it calms the vestibular system as well.

I travel a lot (I enjoy the travel enough to put up with the flying) and flying and jet lag can make things worse - but not intolerable and Valium really helps - both on and off the plane.



I was really nervous too when I had to fly from the UK to Kenya this September. It was a 9hr overnight flight and I already suffer with a lot of pain in my ears when the plane is landing due to the change of air pressure. I didn’t know how all this would effect the MAV. I don’t often suffer motion sickness unless reading in a car, bus and sometimes on trains.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that actually flying didn’t make the MAV any worse then it normally is. With travelling long hours, getting hardly any sleep and having tiredness as one of my triggers, I was convinced i was going to have a lot of problems with the MAV and it didn’t happen. Which was great as I’d spent a lot of money to go to Kenya and didn’t want to spend the whole time in my room feeling dizzy.

I hope that you find flying doesn’t affect you too.


Hi Beech,

I second what Victoria said. The MAIN problem with jet travel for me is jet lag and the sleep disruption it causes. Everything else is almost insignificant by comparison. Travelling to Toronto from Sydney for me has become more and more a pain in the back side for this reason; however, if I go to Thailand (4 hour time change) or New Zealand (2 hour diff) there is not much trouble with lag as long as I keep getting the 8 hour sleep in. I should note that I got hit quite badly coming home from NZ after Christmas not because of a 2-hour time change but because the flight left at 6 am and I was up at 3 AM and didn’t get to sleep the next day in Sydney until nearly 1 AM or 3 AM in NZ. I was awake for 24 hours and had not slept correctly the day before. I paid for that for 2 weeks, not horrendously, but it revved everything up again and was a real nuisance causing endless head pain, derealisation, and visual vertigo.

I would definitely make this trip, plan the time as best you can, and use valium on the plane if need be and when you get to Philly to get your sleep in order as fast as you can. If you are on a preventative that is working that should take a great deal of the sting out of any jetlag hassles. On Cipramil the trip to Toronto had only a marginal effect.

Scott 8)

Hi all,

Been ages since I’ve posted, am feeling better since onset of MAV nearly 5 years ago which was ‘massive’!! Now about 85% and ‘manageable’, even very happy! Interesting how the med Valium keeps popping up, it’s the same med I use for travel. Recent short air trip from Tasmania home to Sydney (only about hour and half plus mucking about going to and from airport). Popped two Valium 5mg each and not only travelled home comfortably (don’t enjoy air travel) feeling totally chilled, but also dropped our bags at the door, hopped in the car and went to the end of year sales at the shops buying up every bargain in sight with huge crowds. Obviously the residue of the Valium still in the system. Got home, unpacked new clothes, luggage from holiday, washed, cooked and felt absolutely NOTHING! If I could just bottle it, it would be wonderful. So knowing it’s benefits and having spoken to my neuro about it, I use it as do many on this forum as a ‘special occasion’ med if you like in harmony with my other preventative meds of clonazepam & sandomigran which are my wonder drugs.

I’m now at the stage where the condition I believe has settled itself to such an extent that the medications are also working more efficiently. Just hope all that continues in the right direction, but am confident. But definitely Valium for travel and when I’ve had a big day and know I just have to hit the sack and get some good decent sleep.

Sorry for the delay in replying, but I did read your messages from my phone a few days ago (haven’t worked out how to reply from my phone yet…bit complicated for me) and I appreciate you taking the time to reassure me.

It’s interesting that all of you mention potential problems with jet lag, rather than any difficulties with the changes in air pressure. I am hoping that I will adjust to the 5-hr time difference between the UK and east coast USA fairly easily.

I know the air pressure shouldn’t make any difference to MAV (or to BPPV, my other condition), but I still feel better for hearing other people tell me!

Hey Beechleaf,

Cabin pressurisation is obviously a reality but I’m not sure how badly it affects a migraineur. I guess it depends on whether or not this is a trigger for you with changing weather patterns. For me I think it’s negligible and again it is sleep disruption and jet lag that really wreak havoc.

For those who might be interested, cabin pressurisation changes with altitude. At all altitudes the pressure is maintained as close to sea level as is possible without causing the plane to explode but it is not right at sea level. The pressure differential cannot exceed 8.60 pounds per square inch (psi) and so when a jet like a Boeing 767 is cruising at 39,000 feet, the inside cabin pressure is 6,900 feet or 2,100 metres.


wow im envious - i have not been on an airplane in at least 10 years. i don’t dare. maybe if i took a bunch of valium i could now. i’ve just always gotten so dizzy on airplanes - it’s like being on a rollercoaster unless it’s super smooth and i am near a window and can see the wing or and ground all the time. a point of reference i guess. I don’t even do well in cars any more. been about 2-3 years since my BF and i took a road trip - hoping to this year. hard to think about when i’m gong through a rough spell like now.

im happy you guys can travel.


A trip abroad 3 years ago, a week after I got there I had the 2nd worse severe vertigo attack of my life and didnt know if I would be able to catch the plane home. I lay for 24 hours with the room spinning. It was at the end of a day of bad migraine and I had gone out in the sun all day so I know what caused the migraine but the vertigo part was a lot more severe than normal, so I guess that the ears being affected ont he flight caused this. All the vertigo attacks I had when I got back, for months were longer too.

Have been abroad since then twice and not had a problem with vertigo. The flight makes me feel a bit off, but not much, I tend to keep my head pressed back in the seat and face forward, no chatting to the person at the side of me, or as the plane goes up and down I dont feel too good. I do tend to get more migraine on holiday though. Last one, the villa was crawling with ants, they sent someone out with a ton of spray. I just knew the chemical would affect me. That night, woke at 3 am with the flashing lights, a 3 day migraine followed, was still there at the airport flying home, then a week of migraine when I got back.

Yet, at the moment, I still think its worth it, but only just!