Asthma and Allergy - Free Vacations - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Asthma and Allergy - Free Vacations

Suitcase Checklist for the Traveler with Allergies

If you're planning a summer vacation, and you or your child have allergies or asthma that is triggered by allergies, proper planning can help you keep sneezes, sniffles, wheezing and coughing under control. Use the following tips as a checklist to make sure that allergy misery doesn't derail your vacation enjoyment.

Deciding Where and When:

  • Know what you're allergic to, then do your homework. Check weather and pollen forecasts for your U.S. vacation choices, then plan accordingly. For example, if you're allergic to ragweed, New York can be significantly better early in August rather than later. Best bets for allergy sufferers? Head to the beach or the mountains any time of year. Ocean breezes are generally free of allergens, and dust mites don't thrive at elevations above 2,500 feet. Mold spores are killed by snow.
    You can obtain current pollen/mold spore counts at  The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) also ranks the top U.S. allergy capitals each spring and fall noting the worst cities for people with seasonal allergies.  The rankings can be found at

  • If you are planning to travel abroad, check with your allergist-immunologist about any vaccinations or immunizations you might need.

Before You Book:

  •  Make a few requests before you book your accommodations. Ask for:

A non-smoking room with air conditioning (a little more difficult when traveling abroad).

A portable HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arresting) air purifier or HEPA filters for your room's air conditioner.

A room with wood, tile or seamless vinyl floors (a little less difficult when traveling abroad). Carpeting can be a breeding ground for dust mites.

What to Take:

  • Your medications - don't forget to pack them - and in the original bottles to avoid questions from airport security and customs agents. Make sure you pack rescue medications for asthma and an epinephrine kit if you or a family member has food or insect sting allergies.
  • Your shots. If you're being treated with allergy shots, make sure you get your scheduled shot before you leave. If you will be traveling for more than a few weeks, ask your allergist to provide a treatment dose to take with you, and the name of a local allergist who can give you the shot.
  • Your pillowcase. Consider packing your mite-proof pillowcases to help keep dust mites under control.

Getting There:

  • By car. If you're traveling by car, keep your windows rolled up and use your air conditioner. Consider getting your automobile's air conditioner cleaned in advance. Other tips include:

Travel during early morning or late evening hours, when air quality is better and traffic isn't as heavy.

If you have asthma and use a nebulizer, consider traveling with a portable nebulizer that plugs into your car's cigarette lighter.

  • By air. A few tips to make air travel more comfortable:

Take an antihistamine in advance. If you're congested, use your regular medication and consider using a long-acting decongestant nasal spray before take-off and landing.

Notify the airline ahead of time if you have food allergies.

Get up frequently and walk around the cabin.

Drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol to stay hydrated.

Use a saline nasal spray once every hour to keep your nasal membranes moist

Separate Vacations:

  • If your child is going to summer camp or to visit friends or family, and he or she has allergies, follow these tips:

Write down any allergies to food or insect stings or strong sensitivities to poison ivy, oak or sumac.

Make sure teachers, camp counselors or other adult supervisors know about your child's allergies.

Send a written list of your child's medications, dosages and instructions for when they should be taken.

Warn adult supervisors to avoid giving your child aspirin, which can trigger life-threatening reactions in those who have asthma.

Pack enough medications to last through the entire trip and consider sending them in a carry-on case or bag so that they're not lost in case your child's luggage is delayed.

Provide teachers, counselors or other adult supervisors with written instructions for response to any allergic or asthmatic reaction.

If your child is allergic to insect stings, pack an emergency epinephrine kit and make sure he or she knows how to use it; children who have asthma should travel with a peak flow meter and other emergency medications such as bronchodilators and corticosteroids.

If your child is traveling without mom or dad, send a letter (preferably notarized) giving an adult supervisor permission to take care of your child in an emergency.

If your child has asthma, information about asthma camps is available through the Consortium of Children's Asthma Camps, supported in part by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, online at

For more information that can help you take control of your allergies and asthma, visit the Web site of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) at

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