My Bag Is Packed - But What About My Allergies? Going on vacation is supposed to be a time to leave your worries behind, but those allergy, asthma and sinus symptoms can tag along and take away a lot of the pleasure. Feeling bad when everyone else is having fun is just not fair, so let's see what can be done. First, you can do some thinking and planning to avoid allergens as much as possible. Then you can take along whatever you will need to avoid allergens and reduce symptoms. In addition, there are steps to take to make the getting-there part of the trip as allergen-free as possible. Finally, vacation activities can be arranged to help keep you feeling at your best and raring to go.
Planning Ahead For Maximum Fun I always think that the anticipation generated by making the plans is a big part of the fun. When will you go? Where will you go? Where will you stay? What about your allergies? Planning a trip is exciting, but it's easy to get carried away and forget about your allergies. However, if you take time to plan ahead, your trip can really be a vacation.
Planning Ahead for When & Where
With a little clever planning, allergy symptoms caused by seasonal pollens won't put a damper on your fun. If there is a particular place you want to go, and your time is flexible, then check the pollen counts and go when they are low. If you have to go during a certain month or season, then look at destinations that have low pollen counts at that time. You can check pollen counts on the Weather Channel and at their website, weather.com or at the American Association of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) website, the National Allergy Bureau.
If mold, pets or other allergies are your problem, just take a little time and effort and use common sense. For instance, don't take your pet with you in a closed-up car, don't stay places where pets have been, and don't go places likely to have mold. Planning ahead could make a big difference in your enjoyment of your time away.
Planning Ahead for Where to Stay
Once you know when you are going and where you are going, choose your lodgings with care. Some tips to note:
Planning Ahead for Medications
- For any allergy...
- Staying with friends or family? Don't be shy. Let them know what it would take for your visit to be allergy-free. After all, they don't want a sick house guest.
- When making hotel reservations, ask if the hotel has any allergy-proof rooms. Some hotels are addressing the issue of allergies since the number of allergy, asthma and sinus sufferers is growing.
- Remember to ask for a non-smoking room. My family doesn't smoke, but if we accidentally get a smoking room, the leftover odor is enough to give me a headache.
- For pet allergy...
- Check to see if pets are allowed and make it clear you want a room that has never had pets. If the hotel cannot guarantee that your room has always been pet-free, pick a different hotel. Really, if a hotel is even pet-friendly, I would look elsewhere since pet allergen lasts for so long.
- For mold allergy...
- If you are going to the beach or other humid locations, be aware that mold may be living it up there, too. Ask for a room away from an indoor pool or other source of moisture.
- Make sure your hotel has air conditioning to reduce humidity. Most in the United States do, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
Also remember to plan ahead for allergy medications or shots. Going across time zones could interfere with your medication schedule. You may need to work with your doctor to layout a new schedule for allergy medications or what to do about allergy shots if you are going to be gone a while. Make sure all medications are in their original containers and that they are clearly labeled to avoid confusion.
What To Take For Convenience & Well-Being I have learned the hard way that I should take everything we might need with us. Once I spent a great deal of time in Orlando in the middle of the night looking for a 24-hour drug store to get a thermometer for a sick child. Now I take a medicine chest along including: pain-killers, fever-reducers, allergy & sinus OTC medicines, a thermometer, antacids and diarrhea & constipation meds. Tips for allergy/asthma/sinus related things to take:
- If you are flying, keep all medications, even over-the-counter medicine, with you in a purse or carry-on bag. Always be prepared for your checked luggage to end up someplace else.
- If you have asthma, be sure to pack a peak flow meter and a portable compressor/nebulizer even if you have not had an attack recently. A new environment with unfamiliar allergens could provoke an asthma attack.
- The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology warns, "Hotel rooms often contain large concentrations of dust mites and molds in carpeting, mattresses and upholstered furniture that can worsen your allergy and asthma symptoms." Therefore, if you have dust mite allergy, get a better start on the day by taking along mite-proof mattress and pillow covers. If a zippered mattress encasing is just too much work on vacation, a fitted mite-proof travel cover - made like a fitted sheet out of our BedCare Classic mite-proof fabric - is a great alternative and easier to put on and take off. Protective mattress and pillow covers will help keep you from waking up congested and sneezing.
- Using a small travel air cleaner in the car and then in your hotel room can help control pollen (and other dust particles, too) in your breathing space. At 3-lbs., you could even pack one in your luggage for flying so you would have it at your destination.
- Wearing a medical alert bracelet or tag around your neck - saying you are allergic to food, medicine, latex, etc. - can help doctors who don't know your history determine what is wrong with you as well as what not to do in treating you in case of an emergency.
- If you anticipate extra physical activity, a cream for aching muscles and joints could be a good thing to throw in your bag.
- A natural, non-drug solution to motion sickness can help if you experience nausea in cars, trains, boats, buses or planes.
- Rinsing pollen and debris from your nose is just as important on vacation as at home. A compact nasal irrigator can be just the thing to help prevent allergy or asthma symptoms while traveling.
On The Way - By Land, Sea, Or Air Going by car definitely gives you the most control over your environment, but it probably means spending a lot more time than normal in a confined space. Here are a few tips that can be helpful:
Going by air presents some different challenges to allergy, asthma and sinus sufferers.
- A week or two ahead, you can use a carpet treatment on your car's carpet to neutralize dust mite and pet allergens or choose a treatment that kills dust mites.
- About 10 minutes before getting into the car, turn on the air conditioning and open the windows or doors to clear the A/C system and the car.
- While on the road, keep the windows closed no matter how nice it seems outside.
- The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology recommends, "To avoid excess air pollution when traveling by automobile, travel in early morning or late evening, when the air quality is better." You should also try to avoid peak traffic times when exhaust fumes are highest. If fumes irritate your nose and sinuses, a charcoal filter mask can help.
Going by sea usually meaning a cruise, which is like temporarily moving to a little town that is floating through the water. Just like you would if you really were moving to a new town, find out about the medical personnel on board. Be careful about exposure to sea water, sun, and mold, especially if you have eczema.
- A personal ionizer/air cleaner can help keep your breathing space free from allergens and germs.
- Since the air on planes is very dry, you may want to take along a saline nasal spray.
- Keep in mind that sinusitis or a sinus or ear infection can cause pain in a plane. Ask your doctor about taking an oral decongestant an hour or so before takeoff.
- While in flight, if you experience ear or sinus pain, it can help to sip water or chew gum.
- Due to close quarters on planes and lack of fresh air, you may find wearing a mask to be a good preventative measure. Wearing masks in public places has become more commonplace, so you don't have to feel like people are looking at you wondering what planet you are from. But if you are still a little self-conscious, there are less clinical-looking masks that still offer great protection while looking better.
Don't Let Allergies Spoil The Good Times Often while on vacation, you have the opportunity to participate in different activities, and you might have that "what-the-heck-I'm-on-vacation" attitude. This can prompt unusual things - like wind sailing, paragliding, deep sea fishing, rock climbing. Or maybe you are more like me - strolling, shopping and sightseeing. Whatever your vacation style, here are a few tips:
- You are likely to be out in the sun more than usual no matter what you choose to do on vacation, so be sure to slather on the sunscreen and wear sunglasses and/or a hat.
- Be sure to remember to drink plenty of fluids on vacation to keep you and your skin hydrated.
- According to Everyday Health ("Outdoor Activities and Your Allergies", 2008), "The best times to exercise outdoors during allergy season are early evening, when pollen counts are down; on a damp, cloudy day; and, ideally, just after a seasonal shower, when the rain has temporarily washed the pollen and pollutants out of the air."
- Shower and wash your hair when you come inside to wash off pollen and put your clothes in a closed bag (a zippered waterproof pillow encasing makes a good laundry bag).
- If you have exercise-induced asthma, keep your medications close by and make sure someone knows what to do in case of emergency.
- Asthmatics should also be careful hiking or climbing above 5000 feet where oxygen decreases.
- Take precautions to protect your skin if you are prone to eczema outbreaks. Eczema is inclined to flare if you are in the sun and around sea water. You might want to pack a lotion that is formulated for eczema. Even if you are not prone to eczema, take along a good moisturizing lotion as your skin may need extra attention.
- In your hotel, if you are allergic to mold, avoid putting your clothes in the closet or drawers where mold may lurk.
- Keep the window or sliding door shut and use the air conditioning in your room. Ocean or mountain breezes are nice, but what wafts in on them may cause you to have an allergic reaction.
Unfortunately, allergies go right along with you wherever you go. We hope the information and tips above will help you reduce allergy symptoms and that your vacation will be everything you expect and desire.
Remember that our customer service representatives have plenty of experience guiding people through the options for allergy, asthma and sinus relief, so feel free to contact us by calling one of our phone experts at 1-800-522-1448 Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:30 pm Eastern Time. You can also e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The information in this newsletter is for educational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor first about your specific condition, treatment options and other health concerns you may have.