Allergy sufferers are saying that this year is already one of the worst for pollen. And actually, experts back this up. Pollen seasons have become longer and more severe in recent memory -- and they're nearly impossible to avoid. Still, seasoned allergy sufferers may feel like they've gotten their symptoms under control. That is, while they're in a familiar environment. While a well-landscaped and well-maintained lawn at home can help reduce common allergens like ragweed, your go-to allergy prevention tactics may totally go out the window when you're traveling. However, you shouldn't let painful sinuses, runny and itchy eyes, or sneezing attacks derail your family vacation plans. If you have a plan of action, you may be able to outsmart the pollen and enjoy your trip sans stuffy nose.
Choose Your Travel Destination Wisely
More than half of Gen Xers and Millennials say cost is a barrier to leisure travel. But you may need to weigh vacation costs against some other important considerations -- like whether your destination is known for its pollen, especially during certain times of the year. Pollen season in a state like Florida often begins earlier than Northerners might think (often, residents start sneezing as early as February!). In the Midwest, the oak, maple, and elm trees will start to produce pollen throughout the springtime; come summer, those who visit this area may have to deal with grass pollens. In the Western part of the U.S., many tree species release their pollen from December through March. And autumn brings a whole new set of allergens to be wary of.
Essentially, this means you really need to do your research when picking a place to vacation. You'll need to know which seasonal allergies affect your family and cross off destinations or travel times that aren't likely to offer you sinus relief. It's also a good idea to check pollen counts before you start packing to ensure you can arm yourself with the proper medications if necessary.
Book an Allergy-Friendly Hotel Room
Those who have severe allergies or asthma may want to look into booking a hotel room that's designated as allergy-friendly or asthma-friendly. Often times, hotels that offer these rooms include hypoallergenic linens or other special amenities. In general, you should seek out a hotel that's completely smoke-free and does not allow pets (other than service animals) as a rule. You may also want to consider booking a room away from the hotel pool if you have a mold sensitivity. Around 44% to 65% of all ER episodes can be treated at urgent care locations, but the last thing you'll want to deal with on your trip is rushing to the ER with respiratory issues or hives.
Construct an Allergy-Fighting Kit
Even when you put all the planning in, allergies can still threaten to ruin your getaway. Putting together a medicinal kit for you and your family can stop allergens in their tracks. You'll want to include decongestants to relieve congested nasal passages; antihistamines for when your nose and eyes are runny, itchy, or sneezy (choose an anti-drowsy version to ensure you can still enjoy your trip!); nasal sprays and saline sprays; eye drops; plenty of soft tissues; sunglasses; and a portable purifier. While most of these are available over-the-counter, you may want to make an appointment with your physician, ENT, or allergist before you leave to ensure you're equipped with the most effective options.
Turn on the AC
If you're taking a road trip or are headed somewhere with favorable weather, you may be tempted to open up the windows and enjoy the fresh air. This is a big mistake if you suffer from allergies. For the sake of preventing sneezes and general misery, keep the windows closed and the AC on, if necessary. You should also close the vents in your car and remove your shoes when entering your hotel room, guest house, or other accommodations. Although you shouldn't have to be confined to the indoors on your vacation, you don't want to let in more allergens than absolutely necessary.
Anyone who suffers from seasonal allergies knows they can be a real downer. But they don't have to have a negative impact on your family vacation. By taking the time to do your research, plan ahead, and make small adjustments to keep allergens out, you'll stay one step ahead of your symptoms and will have a much more enjoyable time.
CANDY TAI is a wife to David and mom of 5 with a degree in Communications. She's a native Texan (Hook 'Em Horns!) who's been making her home in the Kansas City metro area for nearly 15 years. She loves being able to shuffle her kids from their various sports activities, piano lessons, and school activities. She enjoys fashion, beauty, reality TV, and moviegoing.