It might be tempting to have a “let’s just go” kind of vacation — one where you take things as they come and see what the day brings. But when you have chronic hives, spontaneity is not the right way to go.
Find out about the weather, humidity levels, air quality (check the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow website), regional cuisines (including common ingredients), and other environmental concerns.
Bringing along your own linens and toiletries might mean extra work for you, but it might also save you from a flare. Vacations aren’t the best time to experiment with linens (you don’t know what laundry soap is used) and perfumed soaps, shampoos and moisturizers. You can call ahead and request an allergy-friendly room and low-scent cleaning products. Stick with what you know works best for you.
If you are with a group of people, even family members, you might be tempted to go along with the crowd, not wanting to be the one who says, “I don’t think this destination will work for me.”
You probably know what is most likely to trigger a flare of hives. You might be susceptible to flares when the weather is too hot or too cold. Consider your triggers when choosing a destination. For example, for people with allergies to pollen, cruises, beach destinations, or desert trips are good options. For those who end up with hives in hot weather, consider a ski vacation.
With the restrictions on what you can take on an airplane, you might be tempted to stop at a local store to pick up cortisone cream, moisturizers, or other necessities once you reach your destination.
It is best to keep up your skincare routine and use the same products you are using at home. Relying on shopping for products on the trip means you may have to try something new. Pack your medications, prescription and over-the-counter, and skin care products twice — once in small flight-approved containers you can keep with you, and a second set in larger containers in your checked luggage.
Part of the fun of traveling is trying different foods. You might have heard about a local favorite or have always wanted to try southern cooking, southwestern food, or seafood in New England. Beware: Even if you can eat the main ingredients, certain areas of the country might use different oils, spices, and ingredients, which can trigger an allergic reaction.
Once you determine your destination, research various restaurants. Check out their menus, call, and ask questions. For example, if you are allergic to nuts, find out what type of oil they use in food preparation. You can then map out which restaurants are acceptable based on your common triggers. If possible, look for lodging accommodations that include a kitchen or kitchenette to prepare some of the meals yourself.
Vacations are a time to enjoy yourself, and if you are arranging a trip with friends or family, you probably want everything to be perfect. You might even think that this is the way to reduce stress. But trying for perfection usually increases stress.
Stress is a common trigger for hives. Take it easy. Trust that things will work out and that vacations don’t need to be perfect. It’s okay to focus on your needs and stay away from foods and activities that might cause a flare.