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Managing Hotels Stays When You Have Asthma

I recently drove across the country when I moved from California to the Washington DC area. The move was stressful; I donated, sold, or gave away everything I owned. All I took with me were two suitcases of clothes, a few personal items and papers, and my dog Marley.

Changing weather and allergen exposure

The 6 ½ day drive was beautiful but long. I was concerned about how the drive would impact my asthma and overall health. Every day was a different temperature, different altitudes, and new allergens.

It was hard to find healthy food at highway exits and often had to eat gas station snacks. Because I had my dog I was unable to spend time in a sit-down restaurant to get a healthy meal, food options were limited. I did manage to stay hydrated and took long walks with Marley at rest stops, so it wasn’t all bad.

The other challenge with having my dog as my co-pilot was our hotel choices were limited. Many hotels do not accept dogs. To be honest, staying in six different hotels in six different states in a week was more stressful than driving 3,000+ miles. I tried to mitigate some of the unknowns by staying in the same hotel chain each night.

Tips for reducing hotel room allergies

As a seasoned work traveler, I have spent a lot of time in great and not-so-great hotels. This experience has helped me develop a few tricks to limit my exposure to hotel room allergies and asthma triggers. Below is a list of the items I brought with me to help me feel like I had a little more control over my environment that was changing daily:

  1. My own towels

    I always get a little weird about hotel towels. It’s impossible to know how long they have been in the room and can harbor dust mites, or they may have been used by others and not changed out. They often have a smell that can trigger my asthma, so I bring my own set of towels.

  2. A hypoallergenic sleep sack

    Several years ago I purchased a sleep sack, a type of sleeping bag made especially for people with allergies to use while sleeping indoors. It is hypoallergenic and dust mite proof, so it protects me from allergens while sleeping in hotel beds. It also keeps my skin from being exposed to the laundry detergent used to clean the sheets that can trigger my eczema.

    I have traveled with friends who bring their own sheets to use at hotels, which is also an option if you have room in your suitcase. I washed my towels and sleep sack at the hotel. I purposely stayed in hotels with laundry facilities so I could wash my dirty travel clothes, towels and sleep sack as needed.

  3. I asked for scent-free hotel rooms

    Instead of calling the 1-800 reservation line, I called the hotels directly to make my reservations. My goal was to find a caring staff person at the hotel that I could make a connection with, who is willing to ensure the hotel room is scent-free. I have stayed in hotels that have distributed their “signature scent” - AKA air freshener - into the lobby and common areas, or have placed reed diffusers in the rooms.

    By talking to a real live person at the property, I can ask specific questions about the hotel rooms and how they can accommodate my allergies and asthma. I ask about the cleaning products used, and if I can have a room that was not cleaned recently in the hope any cleaning chemicals smells are gone.

  4. I asked to change rooms

    The first thing I do when I check-in to a hotel room is to see if the air conditioner/heater works and if it triggers my allergies and asthma. If it does, or if there are strong smells or any other issues, I am not afraid to ask to change rooms if needed.

How do you avoid hotel room allergies?

Do you have any tips on how to make a hotel room more allergy and asthma-friendly? Let us know by leaving a comment!

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