You don't have to let a runny nose and stuffy head keep you from seeing the world. To prevent a flare-up during your vacation, consider these five travel tips for people with allergies:
Before booking your trip, research seasonal pollen counts and other local allergens. Knowing what to expect can help you decide if the destination is a good option and how to ward off your symptoms once you get there. If your allergies are severe, ask your doctor about medications and additional precautions you should take during the trip. And talk to your health insurance provider about where to seek emergency treatment should you need it.
Bring decongestants, antihistamines, nose sprays, cortisone cream and any other medications you typically use — even if you think you won't need them. If you have a life-threatening allergy to a major food or insect, don't forget to bring an epinephrine injector for emergencies. When visiting a particularly pollen-heavy area, consider packing a wide-brimmed hat or head scarf to keep pollen out of your eyes and hair, and a nasal saline bottle to remove it from your nose.
Watch What You Eat
Most food allergies or sensitivities can make a new restaurant with an unfamiliar menu intimidating, especially if you're traveling in a country where you don't speak the native language. Make it easier on yourself (and the restaurant staff) by printing a card that explains the seriousness of your allergy and which foods you must avoid, as well as cross-contamination risks and any other information that could help the chef prepare a safe meal for you.
Have a Safe Flight
Airlines now use advanced air filters to purify cabin air, notes Airlines for America, but when you're sharing a tight space with dozens of strangers — and possibly a few pets — you never know what airborne allergens might be on board. Most companies have specific policies that protect passengers with allergies, so call your airline in advance to discuss your options. If you have food allergies, request a special meal or bring your own. Be sure to pack medications in carry-on luggage for easy access during the flight, and whenever possible, keep them in their original packaging or prescription bottle to avoid a delay at security.
Choose an Allergy-Friendly Hotel
For people with indoor allergies, booking the right hotel might be the most important travel decision you make. From dust mites in old carpets to pet dander and lingering tobacco smoke, the allergens hiding in some hotel rooms can turn a dream vacation into a nightmare. Many hotels now offer hypoallergenic rooms, but what that means varies by company. To be safe, call before booking your room. Ask about their cleaning protocol, use of air filters, pet and smoking policies or any practice that may aggravate your allergy. If you're still worried, consider packing your own hypoallergenic pillow and air purifier.
Want more travel tips for people with allergies? Get answers to your specific questions by using BlueCross BlueShield's 24/7 Nurseline.*
*Note: Not all health plans include access to all BlueHealth Solutions resources.
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