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Travel and Chemical Allergies

If, like me, you have lots of allergies to cleaning products and other chemicals, traveling can be very stressful, and even dangerous.

  • Planes are disinfected and cleaned with harsh chemical agents, and some may even use pesticides in the cabin to ward off cooties, etc.
  • Hotel and motel rooms are notorious for using tons of cleaning agents on a constant basis, with cleaners and powders accumulating in the bedding, furniture, and especially the carpeting. I prefer to stay at a bed and breakfast-type place as they are usually much more conscious of both allergies and the environment. Some inns are also okay for me, but you have to check to make sure they suit your needs. Sometimes it’s better to just go camping, if you have camping equipment you can deal with.
  • Check to make sure your accommodations don’t have:
    • new carpeting
    • new vinyl flooring
    • fresh paint
    • new furniture made from pressed wood
    • towels and linens washed in bleach or other detergents that may bother you
    • a television, if this will give off too many VOCs from the plastic, etc.
  • Bring your own pillows, or at least bring allergen-barrier pillow encasings.
  • Consider bringing your own sheets and blankets if you are staying at a hotel, since they are sure to wash these in some regular brand of detergent, and probably also in bleach. You can also bring a mattress encasing, but make sure you get the right size for the bed you will have. You can also just bring a sleeping bag, if you have one that is safe for you.
  • Bring a mask that filters out pollutants from the plane (fuel, cleaning agents) as well as the hotel (cleaners). Hopefully you won’t need it, but it is reassuring to know you have a back-up plan.
  • Rental cars are often both new and recently cleaned with chemical agents. However, you can negotiate the newness and the recency of the cleaning with your rental agency.
 

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