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Relief for Allergies While Traveling

Try these tips for allergy relief on the road.

Allergies on the Road and in the Air continued...

“Most newer models of cars have cabin air cleaners, meaning that the air in the passenger compartment is recirculated through some sort of filter,” says James L. Sublett, MD, an allergist in Louisville, Ky. “These should be changed regularly, when the oil is changed. Don’t try to save money by not doing that, because they can really improve the air quality in the car.”

On the plane or train:

The air in planes is particularly dry, so be sure your carry-on includes saline nasal spray. “Use it once an hour to keep nasal passages moist,” recommends Linda Ford, MD, an allergist with the Asthma and Allergy Center in Papillion, Neb.

All U.S. domestic flights, and most flights between the U.S. and international destinations, are smoke-free, but some airlines in other countries still allow smoking. If you’re on a flight where smoking is permitted, ask to be seated as far as possible from the smoking section, and adjust your air blower so that it blows from the smoking section back toward it.

Look for Allergy-Friendly Hotels 

More and more hotels are advertising themselves as offering asthma- and allergy-friendly rooms; ask your hotel if it offers such accommodations. These might include pillow and mattress covers and hypoallergenic linens.

At a minimum you should seek out a hotel that is entirely smoke-free. Hotels that permit smoking, but have “nonsmoking rooms” often do not strictly enforce this policy, and it’s easy to tell that previous guests have smoked in the room.

“Even if you’re in a smoke-free room, if it’s right above a smoking floor, you’ll end up getting exposure to the smoke that’s below you,” says Sublett. If you are given a room that smells of smoke, ask to be moved immediately.

Other accommodation requests:

  • “If you have mold allergies, ask for a sunny, dry room away from the pool,” Ford says. 
  • Ask about the hotel’s pet policy. Hotels cannot bar service animals, but if you have dander allergies, you probably don’t want to be staying in a hotel that advertises itself as pet-friendly or offers cats to borrow for the night! 
  • If you’ll be staying in a rental home, inquire about how thoroughly the location is cleaned between guests.

If you have severe allergies or asthma, take the time to visit your allergist prior to traveling to discuss your plans. Make sure you’ve taken all the precautions necessary to make sure your trip will be as enjoyable as possible.

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Reviewed on July 10, 2008

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