So you’ve done a great job protecting your home from allergens and created a family-friendly allergy-free zone. That’s great! But, the summer season is here, and that means vacation.
Time to start thinking about ways to allergy-proof your vacation. Don’t let memories of relaxation and family fun get crowded out by memories of allergic reactions and emergency trips to the drug store or clinic.
Traveling with Allergies
If you are traveling by car, plan ahead and treat it for allergens before you hit the road. Carpets, upholstery, and ventilation systems are hot-beds for dust, pollen and mold spores. Use a mold-killing solution, such as Vital-Oxide, and a denaturing agent, such as Ecology Works Anti-Allergen Solution Spray , before the trip to create a vehicle interior that’s allergy-friendly for the ride.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology recommends closing windows and turning on the air conditioning to the ‘re-circulate’ mode to decrease exposure to outdoor pollution. If you are extremely sensitive, try to do most of your driving in the early morning or evening when air quality is better and traffic is lighter.
If you are traveling by plane, you don’t have much control over the environment. This may be one situation where it makes sense to take your allergy medicine ahead of time. For instance, if you are allergic to cats or dogs, you might find yourself with one on-board. Even if the animal isn’t on the plane, animal owners carry a load of allergen on their clothes and hair.
Carry all medication including your EpiPen in your carry-on bag. Take at least two injectors (remember one injection lasts for about 20 minutes). If you're traveling alone, let the flight attendant know where your injectors are stored if you should need them. Make sure they are clearly labeled and accessible. Don’t ever place the medication in your checked baggage. If your bag is lost; your medication is lost.
The Allergy & Asthma Foundation of America recommends that you take a detailed list of medications showing refills numbers, prescribing physicians, and dosage amounts. Make sure all pill bottles are labeled - you don’t want any additional hassle at security.
If it is a long flight, bring your own travel pillow. Instead of paying for one from the airline, bring your own pillow and encasement. If you have food allergies, let the airlines know far in advance.
Staying in Hotels or an Airbnb
Many people will stay hotels or similar accommodations that are so prime dust mite breeding grounds. They look sparkling clean, but the mattresses and pillows are not encased. You’ll share that luxurious bed with millions of dust mites living deep inside, just waiting to make your morning miserable with itchy eyes and a runny nose. In the worst cases, linens are not changed or washed as regularly or thoroughly as they should be.
The eco-friendly trend is for hotels to opt for fewer sheet changes during your stay and ask you to reuse the towels to save water and money. More importantly, they often neglect to wash sheets in the 130°F or hotter water needed to effectively kill the mites and remove their proteins because washing in hot water decreases the life of the linens.
Insider reports from those working in the hospitality industry have claimed that hotels are known to only wash the bedspreads and comforter two to three times a year. To wash these on a regular basis takes more resources and time than it takes to just wash the sheets and pillowcases alone.
The most effective way to combat these less than allergy-friendly conditions is to plan ahead and bring your own covers for the pillows and mattresses. A fitted sheet-type dust mite cover is an easy-to-use and pack solution for protection from dust mites and other allergens.
You can also bring along your own bottle of allergen denaturing spray to treat the carpet and bed. Don’t forget to comply with TSA regulations if you’re flying and pack your spray in your checked bag or transfer it to a 3 fl oz spray bottle.
To further protect yourself, ask for a non-smoking, pet-free room. AAAI recommends that if you are sensitive to mold, ask for rooms away from indoor pools - the closest rooms have more moisture in their walls and vents.
Staying with Family or Friends
Don’t be afraid of letting friends and family know that allergies are a problem and you need a bit of help to make your stay safe. With a little extra work and advance preparation, everyone can enjoy the vacation together without the worry of a trip to the emergency room or a mad scramble for the inhaler.
If you have a pet allergy and will be sharing a home with a pet, ask your host to close the door to the bedroom you will be sleeping in to keep the pets out of the room. When you arrive, keep your distance from the pet as much as possible. If you do find yourself petting the dog or cat be sure to wash your hands.
Just like when staying in a hotel, take your fitted mattress cover and pillow encasings. Before you go to bed simply put the covers on the mattress and pillows. Years ago we sent encasings to everyone in the family and that way we know the beds are covered.
Know Where to Get Help
Familiarize yourself with medical facilities near your destination that can treat an allergic reaction. You don’t want to be searching for a clinic or hospital when you are having an asthma attack.
Wishing you the best of health
The Allergy Store