Certain times of year just seem meant for traveling: summers, holidays, school breaks…but whether you realize it or not, they’re also the times that a shift in climate, regional allergens, and being in close quarters with tons of people (air travel, anyone?) can put you at a greater risk of getting sick. From an asthma flare-up to allergies to the good old-fashioned flu, getting sick when you’re away from the familiar comforts of home is no fun. Luckily, with a little forethought and pre-planning, you can head off the sniffles and body aches that can sometimes go hand-in-hand with traveling.
Consider Your Surroundings
If you’re staying at a hotel or even with a friend, one thing’s for sure: you’re outside of your allergen and germ comfort zone. Hotels — even 5 star hotels — are notorious for not being the most sanitary places on earth. That’s to say nothing of the sometimes-stale smell many hotel rooms can have. If you’re staying with friends, whether or not they’re pet owners can make a huge difference if you’re an allergy or asthma sufferer. If breathing conditions, odor or germs are a daunting factor for you while traveling, consider taking a small, portable air purifier with you.
For travel, we love the QuietPure Mobile by Aerus. For something so small, the QuietPure Mobile is extraordinary in its ability to clean a space up to 350 square feet while weighing less than a pound, making it perfect to take on trips. Features its proprietary ActivePure Technology — which cleans the air faster and better than any other air purification system in the world. ActivePure purifies the air by destroying 99% of airborne and surface contaminants, and is based on technology originally developed by NASA scientists for the International Space Station.
It’s a good idea to get a flu shot, especially before you travel. Get one a few weeks prior to your trip, so it has enough time to be effective. If you take medication, it’s a good idea to bring extra, in case your trip gets extended, a flight is delayed or you need extra doses. Always pack medications in your carry on luggage; if your baggage is lost, you’ll at least have medications with you at all times. If a medical condition has you really concerned, it might help to scout out possible clinics, hospitals and routes to each in each destination. If you’re traveling somewhere that speaks a different language, investigate ahead of time how to say certain things in that language, like “I’m asthmatic” or “I’m allergic to aspirin.” Write it down and tuck it in a safe place; you can always show it to a doctor or nurse. Also, most smart phones have translation apps that, while not perfect, can help you get your point across well enough.
There’s a reason it can look like you aged 10 year after a long flight: you’re probably dehydrated. Dehydration can cause anything from mild discomfort from dry skin and scratchy eyes to more serious medical issues, like triggering asthma attacks. William L. Sutker, MD, chief of infectious diseases at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, tells EverydayHealth.com that dehydration can lead to fatigue. “Dehydration can be avoided by drinking fluids throughout the flight,” reports Dr. Sutker. A good idea is to bring a refillable water bottle with you, and as soon as you make it through security, fill it up at a water fountain for an easy, low-cost way to stay hydrated during your flight. A good rule of thumb is eight ounces of water for every hour in the air.
Consider other ways to rehydrate as well: Dry airplane air can cause nasal sensitivity (or nosebleeds!) in some people. If your nose gets unusually dry due to low cabin humidity during flights, you might think of packing a saline nose spray or drops. The same goes for your eyes: harsh, dry cabin air can take a toll on your eyes, especially if you’re a contact wearer or have a proclivity for dry eyes. Bringing a small bottle of eye drops can leave you looking and feeling refreshed.
Check the Forecast
You can’t change the weather, but you can brace yourself for it. Especially for people with allergies, asthma or breathing issues, climates that are too cold, too dry, too wet or right in the middle of pollen season can wreak havoc on their health.
Go to www.airnow.gov to check the air reports for your destination. Outdoor air quality is ranked on scale, from good to hazardous.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) tells you how clean or polluted your outdoor air is, along with associated health effects that may be of concern. The AQI translates air quality data into numbers and colors that help you understand when to take action to protect your health.
On unhealthy or hazardous days, it might be best to curtail outdoor activities if you’re especially sensitive to the effects of ozone, heat, smog, air pollution or airborne allergens.