Bid Bon Voyage to Allergies & Asthma During Your Winter Vacation
Preparation and prevention pave the way to successful travel for the millions of people who have allergies & asthma. The following tips can help you keep these conditions at bay while you’re on vacation.
Consider an Allergen-Free Destination
Beaches and mountains are excellent year-round destinations for people with allergies. Ocean breezes are generally free of allergens, dust mites are fewer at elevations above 2,500 feet, and mold spores can’t survive in snow. Check the weather and pollen forecasts of your desired destination, and plan accordingly.
Pack Your Allergy and Asthma Gear
Bring your medications in your carry-on luggage, in their original packaging. Include quick-relief medications for asthma and an epinephrine auto-injector if you or a family member has food or insect sting allergies. Don’t forget topical hydrocortisone cream, an antihistamine, and your peak flow meter and nebulizer. Also, consider packing your own dust mite-proof pillowcases, and bring wipes to clean trays and tables if you have food allergies.
Talk to Your Doctor or Allergist
Checking in before departure is especially important if you’ll be traveling abroad and may need vaccinations or immunizations. Also, discuss where you’re going and what activities you may do. For example, locations with elevations above 5,000 feet may make breathing difficult, and cold weather can be a trigger for people with asthma. People with asthma should also talk with a doctor or allergist before engaging in certain activities, like scuba diving.
Check Access to Medical Care
If you’re traveling to a remote location or going on a cruise, you should ask in advance about the type of medical care available.
Prepare for the Ride
If you’re traveling by car, travel during early morning or late evening hours, when air quality is better and traffic isn’t as heavy. If you rent a car, ask for one in which no one has smoked. Keep your car windows closed, and use your air conditioner for temperature control. Consider getting your automobile’s air conditioner cleaned in advance.
When traveling by air, take an antihistamine in advance. If you’re congested, use your regular medication and consider using a long-acting decongestant nasal spray before take-off and landing. Notify the airline of food allergies ahead of time. Get up frequently and walk around the cabin, drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol to stay hydrated, and use a saline nasal spray once every hour to keep your nasal membranes moist.
To reduce your exposure to allergens when you’re away from home, request a nonsmoking hotel room. When choosing a hotel, remember that air conditioners and portable air cleaners with HEPA filters and tile, wood, or seamless vinyl floors reduce airborne allergens. If you have food allergies, consider reserving a hotel room with a kitchen so you can make your own meals. If you’re traveling to a non-English speaking destination, bring translated information about your food allergies for restaurant chefs.
Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org
This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, Winter 2011-2012.