Allergy-Smart Traveling

Dr. Paula J. Busse Health Pro
  • Hi, I hope that everyone is enjoying the warmer weather.  Along with the warmer weather also comes much-needed vacation time.  However, if you suffer from environmental or food allergies, there are several things which you may need to do prior to travel to make sure that your trip is safe and enjoyable in regards to your allergies. 


    For environmental allergies (outdoor such as pollens or indoor such as mold, furry pets, dust mites) or food allergies, we usually recommend several steps.  First of all, if your allergies to either of these items are severe, it is probably a good idea to visit your allergist before travel to make sure that it is ok to travel.  You also need to make sure that medication you take for your environmental allergies is up to date and not expired.  If you have food allergies, make sure your “rescue” medications for an accidental exposure are also not expired and that you have your injectable epinephrine, an oral anti-histamine and potentially an asthma inhaler and corticosteroid ready and available. 

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    If you are flying, please do not pack your medications in suitcases that will be checked in, just in case the airlines lose them, or if you need to use them while in the air.  You may need to get a note from the doctor as to why you are carrying the injectable epinephrine aboard the airplane, although usually it is not a problem. 


    If your allergies are severe, it is probably a good idea to get a name of an allergist located where you will be traveling to just in case of an emergency.  If you are traveling by car and have environmental allergies, we recommend that you travel with the air-conditioning on and the windows rolled up in order to try to keep the outdoor allergens and other irritants from coming into the car.  Also, pollen levels tend to be highest in the early morning and late afternoons.  It is pretty hard to keep indoor allergens out of the car. 

    If you are traveling with a pet to which you are allergic, you may want to consider not traveling with that pet since the sticky fur will get all over the car and is difficult to remove.  However, it is hard to leave behind the family pet when you are on vacation. 


    Also, if anyone smokes, ask them not to do it in the car, as cigarette smoke is an irritant.  If you are traveling by airplane and have food allergies, it is important to be careful about eating the airplane food because it may have some of the foods to which you are allergic. 


    Staying at a hotel may also worsen indoor allergies because dust mites might live in the pillows, bedding and carpets.  You may wish to bring along an anti-dust mite cover for your pillow.  It is probably too much to bring along a cover for the mattress, because it takes up a lot of space in your suitcase and it is more important to have the pillow covered anyway because your face is next to the dust mites in the pillows.  You may also want to ask the hotel if they allow pets to stay in the rooms, and if you are allergic to furry animals, ask to stay in a room that is “pet-free.” 

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    I hope that these tips may help you prevent your allergies from interfering with your vacation. 


    Take care, Paula

Published On: June 18, 2007