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Allergies and Asthma on Vacation

Bid bon voyage to allergies and asthma during your vacation.

Allergies and Asthma on Vacation

Things to Do Before You Go

Preparation and prevention pave the way to successful travel for the millions who have allergies and asthma. We have the following tips to help you keep your symptoms under control while you’re on vacation.

  • Consider an allergen-free destination. Beaches and mountains are excellent year-round destinations for allergy sufferers. Ocean breezes are generally free of allergens, dust mites are fewer at elevations above 2,500 feet, and mold spores can’t survive in snow.
  • Check weather and pollen forecasts and plan accordingly. For example, if you’re allergic to ragweed, New York can be significantly better in early August compared to later in the month.
  • Pack allergy and asthma gear. If you’re flying, bring medications in carry-on luggage, in their original packaging. Include quick-relief medications for asthma and two epinephrine auto-injectors if you or a family member has food or insect sting allergies. Don’t forget topical hydrocortisone cream, an antihistamine, and your peak flow meter and nebulizer. Consider packing your own mite-proof pillowcases and bring baby wipes for cleaning trays and tables if you have food allergies.
  • Talk to your allergist. Checking in with your allergist before departure is especially important if you’ll be traveling abroad and may need vaccinations or immunizations. Discuss where you’re going and what activities you may do. For example, locations with elevations above 5,000 feet may make breathing difficult and cold weather can be a trigger for asthma patients. People with asthma should also talk with an allergist before engaging in activities such as scuba diving.
  • Check access to medical care. If you are going to a remote location or on a cruise, ask in advance about the type of medical care available.

Prepare for The Ride

By car:

  • Travel during early morning or late evening hours, when air quality is better and traffic isn’t as heavy.
  • If you rent a car, ask for one in which no one has smoked.
  • Keep your windows rolled up and use your air conditioner. Consider getting the filters in your car’s air conditioner cleaned in advance of your trip.

By air:

  • 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. This can help prevent symptoms due to the changes in air pressure associated with both takeoff and landing.
  • Notify the airline of food allergies ahead of time. Ask to pre-board to wipe down the area you’ll be seated in.
  • 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.


Here are some lodging tips to reduce the allergens when you’re away from home.

  • Request a nonsmoking hotel room. An increasing number of hotel chains have made all their properties non-smoking, but it’s worth it to check in advance.
  • Air conditioners and portable air cleaners with HEPA filters, and tile, wood or seamless vinyl floors reduce airborne allergens.
  • If you have food allergies, consider reserving a hotel room with a kitchen and buying your own food.
  • If you are traveling to a non-English speaking destination, bring translated information about your food allergies for the restaurant chef.

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