An allergy is the body’s reaction to foreign particles that are not necessarily harmful but can cause irritation. It often comes with symptoms like sneezing, coughing, runny nose, and watery eyes, or a more severe one called “anaphylaxis.”
As someone who’s been living with allergies, you probably have all that you need to address them at home – an allergen-free space, access to all the necessary medicines, etc. This makes going on a trip out of town a bit daunting.
But do not fear. With the right preparation and this guide containing allergy prevention tips and steps, you should be able to spend an out-of-town vacation free from allergies.
Step #1: Research your destination.
If you have the opportunity to plan or have a say in where you’re going on vacation, be sure to go for areas with fewer allergens.
- If you’re allergic to pollen, opt for a trip to places near lakes, rivers, and beaches, as the pollen count is lower there.
- If you have dust allergies, your best choice would be elevated places like mountains at least 2,500 feet above sea level. Dust mites cannot thrive that high up.
- For mold allergies, you should consider going somewhere cold because lower temperatures kill off mold.
But if these aren’t possible, the first thing you need to do is conduct thorough research about your destination.
Consider the weather and timing of your trip. What are the common allergens present at your destination during the current season?
Take note: The pollen season occurs during different months in various countries worldwide, so be sure to check local forecasts when going overseas.
Step #2: Plan accordingly.
Once you have the information you need, you must come up with a plan that will reduce – if not prevent – any allergic reaction when you’re on your trip.
If the pollen count is expected to be high where you’re going, consider an itinerary that entails staying indoors. For example, if you’re headed to Abu Dhabi, you can spend some time doing indoor sports activities on Yas Island.
The key is to take your allergy triggers into account when deciding on aspects of the trip. Some of the most common allergens you may encounter are:
- Pollen from trees and plants
- Dust mites
- Animal dander
Step #3: Pay attention to your lodging.
If you’re going to stay at least one night at your destination, you also need to pay close attention to where you’re going to spend the night.
Many modern hotels today advertise their asthma- or allergy-friendly rooms and facilities. Ask your hotel if they have such accommodations and offerings, particularly hypoallergenic linens and pillow and mattress covers.
If these are unavailable, you may need to bring your own. The good news is that these items won’t take up too much space in your suitcase. Plus, they can save you from a lot of discomfort and inconveniences later.
You should also go for establishments that ban smoking in the entire building. Those that permit smoking but offer “non-smoking rooms” are not as stern in implementing this, so it’s best to steer clear of them.
Also, stay away from hotels that are “pet-friendly” as they are most likely not allergy-friendly.
If possible, try to get a room with the following features and amenities:
- Bare, uncarpeted floors – Carpets tend to trap allergens in the room.
- Air Conditioning – The AC will help filter out pollen and make it nearly impossible for mold to thrive.
- Located on the sunny side of the building – A room on the sunny side of the hotel is brighter, which means molds won’t survive either.
Step #4: Pack the right stuff.
Since you’ll be going out of town, you’ll want to refill your allergy prescriptions as you pack for the trip. Create a checklist to see if you have everything you need. It also helps to include the following details in the list and bring them on your trip:
- All existing medical conditions
- Medications and their dosage
- Prescribing physician
Once they’re complete, put all medicines in a container in your carry-on bag or purse for easy access. Bring one day’s worth of extra dosages in case the trip is delayed.
If you’re going abroad, keep your medications in their original packaging to avoid any issue with customs checking. If you’re bringing gel or liquid medications, put them in a separate bag to be screened separately.
Most people with allergies also have asthma. If you’re one of them, don’t forget to bring:
- Peak flow meters
When camping or going on a “rougher” vacation, pack a portable nebulizer, preferably those that are battery-powered or can be plugged into the 12-volt receptacle in most vehicles.
Below are other things you may need to pack to stay allergy-free:
- Wet tissue – This is useful for ridding surfaces (e.g., tray or food table) of allergens.
- Mask – This keeps you safe from flu and protects you from allergens if you’re seated close to trigger sources.
- Saline spray – This helps clear the airways and reduce the sniffles.
Step #5: Prepare for travel.
What you need to do or bring to keep the journey allergy-free depends on how you plan to travel.
Before boarding the plane, take an antihistamine. If you’re allergic to certain foods, bring your own snacks or notify the airlines of your condition.
Keep yourself hydrated and avoid drinking alcohol.
Since the air inside the pressurized cabin of planes can be very dry, use your saline mist or spray once every hour to keep your nasal passages moist and allergen-free.
For flights where smoking is allowed, ask for a seat as far away from the smoking section as possible. Make full use of your air blower and adjust its direction in a way that blows the smoke away from you.
Choose an airline company that prohibits smoking on the plane whenever possible.
If you’re renting a car, avoid those that people have smoked in.
Vacuum the car before you enter. Close the windows and keep the air conditioner on to filter the air.
It would also be best to travel early in the morning or late at night as there is less traffic, less pollution, and less pollen in the air.
Step #6: Prepare for health needs.
Consult your allergist before your trip, especially if you have severe asthma or allergies. Talk to them about your plans and follow their recommendations on preventive measures for the trip.
Don’t forget to get the required immunizations, especially a flu vaccine.
Read through your health insurance policy to check whether it covers emergency medical visits in other countries or territories.
An allergy-free vacation is possible with the proper preparation and the right amount of precaution. To be sure, never leave home without your allergy relief tablets and stay away from things you know you’re allergic to.