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Going on Vacation?

Send Your Allergy & Asthma Symptoms Packing

Allergy and Asthma image

Thinking of traveling by plane or train? Taking a road trip? Follow these tips to help prevent asthma and allergy flare-ups during your special adventure.

Plan Before Your Trip
As you’re finalizing plans for your next vacation, it’s important to also prepare for your medical needs. Refill your prescription medications and pick up over-the-counter medicines before packing for your trip. Create a list of your current medical conditions, medications, prescribing physician, and dosage to have on hand while traveling. If you have asthma or severe allergies, consider ordering and wearing a medical identification bracelet.

Check with your allergist or doctor to discuss any travel-related risks and to update your asthma action plan or allergy action plan. Be sure to get your immunizations, especially a flu shot. You should also check your health insurance policy and know in advance if your plan will cover doctor or emergency visits in other states or countries.

If you have food allergies, be sure to have an allergy alert chef’s card to help you alert restaurant staff about your allergies while traveling. It’s also a good idea to check the weather and pollen forecast for your destination.

♦ When traveling by air … If you have a pet or food allergy, call the airlines and explain your medical condition to their customer service representative. Find out the airline’s poli­cies on accommodations for people with allergies.

Pack your medications with their original labels on.
If possible, bring back-up medicines.

If you have food allergies, be sure to have an allergy alert chef’s card to help you alert restaurant staff about your allergies while traveling. It’s also a good idea to check the weather and pollen forecast for your destination.

♦ When traveling by air … If you have a pet or food allergy, call the airlines and explain your medical condition to their customer service representative. Find out the airline’s poli­cies on accommodations for people with allergies.

For pet allergies, find out if the airline allows pets to travel in the passenger cabin. Ask if another passenger on the same flight has made reservations with a pet and if you can be seated away from the animal. Take note that federal law must allow service animals in passenger cabins. Additionally, all flights will have pet dander, even without pets in the plane, because pet dander gets on people’s clothes.

If you have nut allergies, or any other food allergy, find out if the airline has a policy for accommodating people with food allergies. Ask if you can pre-board to wipe down your seat and tray table, and see if the airline can create an allergen-free buffer zone around your row. You should also find out if you can order a safe meal for your food allergy.

♦ When traveling by car … If you have a pollen or mold allergy, you’ll want to service your vehicle to replace air filters and clean the ventilating and air conditioning system before you leave.

♦ When traveling by train … If you have a pet or food allergy, find out if the train allows pets (in addition to service animals), and ask to be seated away from animals. If meals are served on board, ask if the dining staff can accommodate your food allergies. If not, make sure you can bring your own food.

♦ When staying in a hotel … Request a hotel room that is nonsmoking, mold-free, and pet-free. Ask the hotel staff if they provide allergy-friendly rooms.

Packing for Your Trip
Pack your medications with their original labels on. If possible, bring back-up medicines. You should also pack your health insurance card and list of medi­cal conditions and medications. Always keep your medications with you – so pack them into a carry-on bag or backpack that stays with you at all times. Medically necessary liquids and medications in excess of TSA limits are allowed in your carry-on bag, but they still must be screened.

If you or someone in your family has a food or insect sting allergy, be sure to bring your self-injectable epinephrine. These are also allowed on airplanes. If you have a food allergy, pack safe foods to eat, and don’t forget to bring your allergy alert chef’s card. If you will be flying to your destination, inform the TSA agent at the beginning of the screening process about your allergies and necessary supplies.

Unexpected detours during travel can be fun,
but not when they are health related.

Pack your asthma equipment: spacers, nebulizers, and peak flow meters. If you use a nebulizer, it should not be left at home. For campers and others who vacation “in the rough,” consider portable nebulizers. Some are battery powered; others can be plugged directly (or through a power inverter) into the 12-volt receptacles in your vehicle. If traveling abroad, be sure you have an electrical current converter. When flying, tell the TSA agent about your nebulizer or other equipment so they can screen it.

No matter how you’re traveling, pack wipes to clean surfaces such as airplane tray tables and public seating areas. To protect against dust mites, pack your own allergy-proof pillow or mattress casings.

During Your Trip
Always carry your emergency medica­tions with you everywhere you go, and know the nearest locations to seek medical treatment. Reduce your risk of respiratory infections by frequent hand washing and using hand sanitizers. During hot weather, people with asthma and allergies should stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids. And everyone should avoid exposure to tobacco smoke.

If you are traveling by car during high pollen or pollution times, travel with your windows up and the air conditioning turned on. If you’re the one who is driving, be aware that some allergy medications may cause drowsiness.

When traveling by plane, ask if you can pre-board, and be sure to tell the flight attendants about your medical con­dition. Wipe down your armrests and tray tables as soon as you board, and avoid using airline pillows or blankets. If you have a food allergy, consider only eating food that you packed with you.

Unexpected detours during travel can be fun, but not when they are health related. By taking these precautions before and during your trip, you can enjoy your next get­away – without the allergy and asthma symptoms.

 

Source: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, aafa.org

This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, Spring/Summer 2016.