Spring break is just around the corner, and summer will be here before you know it. Are you planning your next big vacation? If you have allergies or asthma, careful planning and communication are essential to ensuring that your vacation is as safe as it is relaxing.
Travelers with allergies should take a page from the Boy Scout handbook: always be prepared. The time leading up to your trip should be spent arranging any special requests or accommodations as well as putting together an “allergy kit” that contains everything you’ll need to manage your allergies while away from home, such as prescription medications, emergency medicine like an epinephrine auto-injector or an inhaler, copies of your emergency care plans, and smaller supplies like tissues. You’ll want to make sure you leave plenty of lead-time for your requests to ensure that venues have time to make the proper arrangements.
Ready to start planning your vacation? Here are our tips:
- Service your car before your travel date. Make sure that air filters are replaced and clean out the ventilation and air conditioning system.
- Travel with the windows rolled up and use the recirculation button, if your car has one. This will limit the amount of outside air and pollutants (such as pollen) being pulled into the car’s cabin.
- If you’ll be traveling in the car for long distances, make a smaller version of your allergy kit that you can bring in and out of the car with you.
- Keep a bag or cooler of allergy-friendly snacks with you in the car.
- Check the airline’s allergy policies before booking your flight. You should be able to find this on the airline website. If your not comfortable with a particular airline’s policies, consider traveling with a different company.
- Make a note of your allergy while booking your flight reservation. Your information can be forwarded to airline employees, such as the gate agent and flight crew. If you have a nut allergy, some airlines will set up a nut free buffer zone around your seat while others may make the flight totally nut free.
- Planes are usually cleaned at the end of the day, so try to schedule an early flight.
- Bring your own allergy-friendly food. You may want to check with the airline to see if there are any restrictions in what you can bring onboard.
- Check your seat and clean your area before sitting down for the flight. Cleaning up stray food particles can help you avoid an allergen coming into contact with your skin and causing a reaction.
- Make sure your epinephrine auto-injector is with you on the plane at all times. It should not be placed in your checked luggage or put in the overhead bin. Read up on carrying medications onto a plane before your departure date.
- If the train allows pets, request to be seated away from any animals onboard.
- If there is a meal car, ask if the food staff can accommodate your allergy. If not, see if you can bring your own allergy-friendly food onto the train.
- Keep an allergy card with you at all times. The card should list your allergy and what to do in case of an emergency. If you are traveling to a non-English speaking country, have your card translated into the local language.
- Know the location of the nearest hospital. Research which hospitals are best suited to treat an anaphylactic reaction.
- Research local cuisine to see if there are any regional dishes you should absolutely avoid while traveling.
- If you will have access to a kitchen, you may want to bring non-perishable food that is safe for you to eat (for example, pasta).
- Learn the words for your allergen in the local language. This will help you spot it on menus or on ingredient labels.
- Request a non-smoking, pet-free room. Make note of your allergy when making your reservations.
- If you are not sure how to speak to a chef about your allergy, your hotel’s concierge may be able to call the restaurant on your behalf to explain your allergy to the chef.
- If you are allergic to dust mites or if certain products like laundry detergent cause a reaction, consider bringing your own linens and pillow covers.
Going on vacation is a great way to take a break from your normal routine as well as de-stress. Traveling with allergies or asthma does have a unique set of challenges, but with the right amount of preparation, you can experience the same relaxing vacation as someone without allergies.