Road health tips from an asthma and allergy sufferer

“Hypoallergenic bedding, pet free and a non-smoking room on a non-smoking floor, please”-that’s my typical request anytime I make a reservation to stay just about anywhere. I move a zillion times on the train if there’s a smoker or heavily doused perfume/cologne wearer near me. Scented anti-bacterial, oils or lotions set me off in an instant and any strong food smell in an enclosed area is a risk. And don’t even put me in any setting a cat has ever been. Seriously…and yet, I happily travel.

When I was teaching, one of the ladies in the office, Lorraine, would always have tissues ready for me come allergy season. And in a school, every season is allergy season-there’s mold, mildew and all things dust! She knew that even with the latest pills and drops my eyes would be puffy, itchy and all shades of red. Regularly, when she asked, ‘how are you when you travel?’-she smiled, already knowing the answer. We do our best to follow the sun whenever possible. Never heading to anywhere in spring or autumn where the pollen counts would go through the roof and aside from a fear of a bee sting allergy, we search for summer sunshine, minimal cold (where my asthma is also aggravated) and nothing floral or feather related at all. The season in which I feel best is summer and that is for what we regularly search. She could see why, at least in the health department, travel makes me happy.

Half the time I can’t tell you what makes my lungs unhappy. Everyone has his/her own triggers yet when I head to the allergist office and look at the poster asking ‘what’s your trigger’…I just roll my eyes…..I have ALL of them! When I travel, my allergies and asthma come with me. I’ve picked up some helpful hints along the way that I hope will make your travels a little easier.

Here are a few tips to hopefully lessen your suffering on the road:

  • Double check any hotel/accommodation site ahead of times for pet policies and availability of feather/down free bedding (if it’s a local stay ask as many questions as possible)
  • Carry your own soap/shampoo/lotions if that’s your trigger; often hotel ones are not hypoallergenic
  • If food allergies are an issue, ask as many questions as possible and if necessary, ask to speak to the chef at any establishment to express your concerns
  • If heading to a country where you don’t speak the language, consider small business cards with your allergies written in the local language/dialect to be sure you are understood (select wisely)
  • Bring a sleep sheet/sack with you to avoid contact with questionable bedding
  • Carry a list of your allergies and the meds you take (including the generic name) along with an extra prescription if you run out
  • ALWAYS CARRY BENADRYL (or some other antihistamine for reactions)
  • If in a humid climate, try to find accommodations with fans/air conditioners to make it easier to breathe in the room
  • ALWAYS check the smoking policies of your accommodation ahead of time and ask again upon arrival
  • If traveling with others, let them know of your allergies and asthma situation ahead of time
  • Carry Benadryl or Cortisone cream for mosquito bites (Witch hazel removes the itch in a pinch)
  • Whenever possible keep the windows up and air-conditioning on recirculate if driving through areas heavily laden with trees or fresh cut grass
  • Take your shoes off as soon as you enter your room so as not to transfer outside allergens inside
  • Always carry some sort of scarf or item that can cover your face while traveling (especially if there’s no way to avoid odors in an enclosed space)
  • Wear sunglasses when outside; this will be one extra barrier for your eyes against allergens
  • Always travel with two rescue inhalers (LABEL THEM and if traveling with a companion have him/her hold one….same goes for Epi-Pens)
  • Sometimes, although the outside area is enticing, it’s better to choose sitting inside in a restaurant where you know smoking is prohibited
  • If without any eye drops or antihistamines, for itchy and puffy eyes brew and cool some black tea and place the tea bags on your eyes (the tannins in the tea remove puffiness and help lessen the itch)
  • For those interested in aroma therapy, peppermint oil has been proven to assist asthma sufferers and help open airways (this is NOT to be used in an emergency in lieu of a rescue inhaler)
  • In event of a medical need, remember the hotel/accommodation can always call for a doctor
  • ALWAYS purchase travel insurance!


Take care of yourself and enjoy the adventure. Breathe easy and happy travels.

For more of Stacey’s musings follow her at

Posted by | Comments Off on Road health tips from an asthma and allergy sufferer  | November 29, 2014
Category: General, Vagabonding Advice

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