You’ve waited months and months, and it’s almost here: your summer vacation! It’s supposed to be a time of fun, relaxation, sight-seeing and memory-making experiences. But if you’re one of the millions of Americans with asthma or debilitating allergies, travel can be anything but easy. With new destinations can come changes in climate, elevation, humidity, or increased air pollution. And that doesn’t account for your lodging: stale hotel air, friends with pets or the cigar smoker on the patio over can all spell trouble if you’re prone to breathing difficulties.
But don’t let your asthma or allergies confine you to a summer at home on the sofa. With some pre-planning, you can travel and vacation with the best of them! Here are our 7 favorite tips for heading off the triggers that can trip up your lungs:
Make sure you’re well stocked
If you require medication or inhalers to treat your asthma, make sure you bring what you need….PLUS a back-up. Too often, bags get lost (don’t put essentials in checked luggage!) or an unforeseen crisis will arise – and you don’t want to be caught off guard. Even if you don’t need it, having extra back-ups can give you peace of mind. And a pack of simple antihistamines can come in handy at any time of year!
Have a go-to list of useful information
Before you head out, create a document that aggregates all the essentials: your health insurance information, phone numbers for your primary care physicians and pharmacy, and names and numbers of nearby clinics or hospitals. Having to go searching for that information later may create a headache that was avoidable. If someone is traveling with you, let them know about this document’s existence as well.
Check your destination’s Air Quality Index
In the event that the air quality is particularly bad one day in your destination, you might decide to use that day to tackle indoor activities, like museum visits or shopping. Visit www.airnow.gov to get your city’s index.
Sure, it’s hot outside – so staying hydrated is always a good idea. But being dehydrated can actually exacerbate asthma and allergy symptoms. Drinking plenty of water will go a long way in preventing breathing flare-ups.
Stay in allergy-free rooms…or bring an air purifier with you
More hotels are now offering allergy-friendly rooms for guests, which can include air purifiers, dust-mite proof mattress and pillow casings, and special room cleaning processes designed to eliminate as much dust and allergens as possible. If allergy-friendly rooms aren’t available, request a smoke-free, pet-free room.
Prep your car
If you’re traveling primarily by car, especially for a long duration of your trip, make sure it’s been properly cleaned and is as free of dust and odor as possible. Use your air conditioner, and set it to recycle the air so that outside air isn’t coming back in.
Time your traveling right
Again, if you’re traveling by car, driving at off-peak hours (early in the morning or late at night) can reduce your exposure to higher levels of air pollution brought about by heavy traffic.