Vacations are a chance to take a break from our usual routines, explore new places and check exciting experiences off our bucket lists. However, surprise allergy troubles can leave you wishing you’d stayed home instead of enjoying the sights!
Careful pre-trip planning and strategizing while you’re there can help stop allergies from overtaking your vacation. With any allergy, travel takes some forethought.
Here are some tips for preventing your allergy symptoms from spoiling your travel plans.
[Related: How To Sleep Better While Traveling]
Remember: Location, Location, Location
Not all destinations are equally allergenic.
If you’re planning to travel with allergies, research your potential destination’s summer mold and pollen counts before you book. If pollen or mold spores overrun an area in the summer, it may be better to save that trip for another season.
For example, if you’ve had the urge to explore more southern states, summer may not be the best time to visit. Warmer temperatures and humid climates in states like Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia extend trees’ and plants’ pollination seasons. And that makes these locales summertime allergy hotspots.
Some allergy-friendly summer travel locations can include the mountains. The cooler, drier air in the higher altitudes of mountainous regions — such as the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachians or the Sierra Nevada — helps keep pollen counts down.
Coastal locations like Santa Cruz, Honolulu, Miami and Key West are also good bets for travelers with plant allergies — sea winds blow pollen farther inland. However, the damper climate can also mean higher mold counts, which can trigger allergies.
Use Air Conditioning
If you’re traveling with allergies and headed somewhere warm, use air conditioning to beat the heat. Rolling down or opening windows will only increase your chances of pollen exposure.
In the car, run the air conditioner for 10 minutes before you leave, and make sure the vents work properly before driving. At your hotel or lodgings, keep the windows closed and the air conditioner on to reduce indoor pollen exposure.
[Related: Traveling With a CPAP Machine]
Stock Up on Medication
Depending on where you’re planning to travel with allergies, you might not have easy access to a pharmacy or doctor. In that case, stock up on and have a large on-hand supply of your allergy medicine — including saline spray. Have it available for the duration of your trip.
If you’re taking an airplane, the pressurized cabin air can irritate your sinuses. Pack items like antihistamines, inhalers and saline spray in your carry-on bag. That way, you’ll have them exactly when you need them midflight.
Allergy-Proof Your Hotel
When you’re on vacation, a packed-to-the-brim schedule full of sightseeing, good food and fun activities can mean you’re ready to hit the hay the moment you unlock the hotel room door.
Let’s say you’ve just snuggled under mountains of luxurious duvet covers and thick, Egyptian cotton sheets. Your head’s cozy on a perfectly fluffy oversized pillow — and suddenly, an allergy attack hits.
What’s the cause behind your sudden incessant sniffling? Was it a mistake to travel with allergies? No way!
You just need to take a bit of time to allergy-proof your hotel from indoor allergens.
Choose a Hypoallergenic Hotel Room
Many major hotel chains now offer hypoallergenic rooms for guests with asthma or those traveling with allergies.
As fair warning, these rooms tend to cost a bit more. However, hotels outfit them with hypoallergenic bedding and linens, and they often use a separate ventilation system to avoid cross-contamination with standard rooms. Hotel staff also deep-clean these rooms regularly to prevent allergen buildup.
If your destination lacks hotels with hypoallergenic rooms, or if your budget doesn’t fit such accommodations, ask for a pet- and smoke-free room away from the pool. Keeping a bit of distance can reduce the chances of the room triggering your allergies.
[Related: Guide to Seasonal Allergy Triggers]
Look for Cleanliness
Mold is a key culprit in indoor allergy attacks, so while you’re planning all the sights, you might want to dig deep to find hotels that have stellar cleanliness ratings. The best way to do so is by reading through the reviews.
USA Today has some other ideas to help you determine the standard of cleanliness in the hotel you’re interested in. Mold can hang out in bathrooms, carpets, air vents and even walls, so finding a spotless and sanitized hotel should be a top priority.
Change Clothes After Being Outside
If you’ve spent most of the day outside, it’s wise to change clothes immediately upon entering the hotel room. Outdoor allergens like dust mites or pollen can linger on your clothes. When you sit on the bed or armchair to watch a little TV before dozing off, you could transfer those allergens onto the surfaces you contact.
Bringing extra clothing might seem like a hassle if you’re trying to meet luggage weight restrictions, but it’s well worth it. That’s doubly true if it means avoiding an onset of sneezing and watery eyes.
To prevent pollen from coming indoors, make sure to not sleep in the same clothes you wear outside or leave your outdoor clothes on your bed. Home remedies for dry noses don’t work when you’re nowhere near home! Put your outdoor clothing in a separate bag, and keep the bag away from the furniture and your luggage.
If you’d rather not bring extra clothing, check whether your hotel has a washer and dryer. If it does, run your contaminated clothes through a laundry cycle nightly to avoid spreading allergens around the room.
Bring Your Own Luggage Covers, Sheets and Pillows
Another way to avoid triggering your allergies while on vacation is to bring your own bedding. (We know — with any allergy, travel can come with extra frustrations.)
Dust mites are a common issue in certain motels and hotels. While you’re packing your swimsuit and goggles for your vacation, consider adding a dust-mite cover to your suitcase. A high-quality cover can help stop dust mites and mold spores in their tracks — and let you catch the z’s you need to enjoy your trip.
To avoid those nasty dust mites, pack your own hypoallergenic pillow, pillowcase and sheets. Good Housekeeping has some great tips on finding an allergy barrier bedding set that meets your needs. Some hotels may have hypoallergenic bedding upon request, so call ahead of time to see what options your hotel offers for traveling with allergies.
[Related: How To Sleep Better While Traveling]
Ditch the Hotel Room Humidifier
Yes, a humidifier is great for dry sinuses, but it can create the perfect environment for mold and dust mites to thrive — two of the top causes for indoor allergies. If you really can’t do without the humidifier, the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology recommends cleaning and changing the filter often, as well as using distilled or demineralized water to avoid sinus irritation.
Plan Activities Around Pollen and Mold Counts
It’s common to plan vacation activities beforehand, but using a little extra strategy while planning can help traveling with allergies go smoothly.
Make a list of indoor and outdoor activities and sights to see at your destination. Give yourself enough options that you could spend the entire trip outside or inside, depending on the weather.
Once you reach your destination, check the pollen and mold counts for each day you’ll be there. If the counts are high, choose one of your indoor activities to minimize exposure. Naturally, save outdoor activities for days when counts are lowest.
If you absolutely can’t miss an outdoor activity on a certain day, pack an extra outfit for the event. Afterward, stop at your hotel for a shower and wardrobe refresh before the next event to keep allergens off your hair and skin.
Contact a Certified Allergist
These tips can help keep traveling with allergies under control, but they may still be waiting for you at home. Preventive measures can provide temporary relief of your symptoms while traveling with allergies, but you need to seek treatment from a certified allergist to find a long-term solution.
At Pasha Snoring & Sinus Center, Dr. Pasha helps patients break the cycle of managing their symptoms every allergy season. By identifying and treating allergies at their source, he’ll put you on the path to lasting relief.
Let our ENT specialist help you today, and leave allergies behind once and for all!
Featured image via Pexels