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:
Before You Book:
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:
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.
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
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 www.asthmacamps.org.
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 www.acaai.org.