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Healthy Traveling With Allergies
Before You Leave
- Know the pollen forecast or the weather for your destination..
- Beach or mountain vacations are great options for allergy sufferers. Allergens are not found in sea breezes, dust mites are not prevalent over 2,500 feet, and snow kills mold spores.
- Ask your doctor for any travel tips that might help you handle your allergies while on vacation. Also ask if you will need additional medication if traveling abroad.
- Obtain the name of an allergist practicing at your destination, especially if you are traveling out of the country. Your doctor might be able to give you some suggestions.
- Talk to your doctor about whether you should begin taking allergy medication before your trip. Some medications take time before they are effective.
Traveling by Car
- Turn on the air conditioner 10 minutes before you get in the car, preferably with the windows open. This will help remove dust and molds from the air conditioning system.
- Keep the windows of your car closed while you are driving. This will prevent pollen and other irritants from entering the car. Use the air conditioner instead.
- If your trip is short (less than 1-2 hours) consider setting the air conditioner to recirculated air. While some cars may mix enough fresh air with stale recirculated air, do not assume that it is healthy to breath recirculated air for long periods of time. Periodically open the vents or windows for a few moments to replenish oxygen.
- Begin your travel early in the morning or later in the evening. This will keep you off the roads during times of heavy traffic and when the air quality is poorest.
- If you are renting a car for your trip, ask for one that has not had people who smoke in it. Some cars also come with high efficiency particulate filters as part of their air conditioning systems. If you do careful pre-trip research, you might better be able to choose the best brand of car to rent.
Traveling by Plane
- Pack your allergy medication in your carry-on luggage and not in the luggage you are checking—just in case your luggage does not make it to your destination or you need it while on the plane.
- Make sure to bring more than enough of your allergy medication.
- Bring a saline nasal spray with you. Using the spray often will help keep your nasal membranes moist. Be sure that your spray is saline (salt water) only; medicated nasal sprays containing decongestants should be used only as directed.
- If you are traveling to different time zones, be sure to account for the time change when calculating medication dosages.
At the Hotel
- When making your reservation, ask if the hotel offers allergy-proof rooms.
- Request a room away from the indoor pool. Rooms close to indoor pools may have higher mold counts.
- If you are allergic to animals, ask about the hotel’s pet policy. If pets are allowed at the hotel, ask for a pet-free room.
- Ask for a non-smoking room.
- If the air conditioner filter has not been changed recently, you might ask if the hotel can change the filter prior to your arrival.
- Call in advance to make sure the hotel offers synthetic pillows. If they do not, bring your own.
- If you find them helpful, you could bring your own allergy-proof covers for pillows. You may want also to bring an allergy-proof cover for the mattress as well, though studies have cast strong doubt on the effectiveness of pillow and mattress covers for preventing nasal allergies.
- Shut the hotel windows and use the air conditioner.
- Avoid using the hotel closet or drawers if you are allergic to mold spores. These dark and sometimes damp areas can be great breeding grounds for mold spores.
At Your Destination
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 10/2016
- Update Date: 10/25/2015