Updated Dec 2017. If you have a dust allergy and travel, then I don’t need to tell you about the discomfort of hotel beds and the plague of dustmites. At home, you can protect yourself with hypoallergenic bedding, with removing dust regularly and minimising surfaces dust and the nasty mites (and their poop) can collect on. But you have no such control in your travel accommodation. But don’t stress out about it because travel should be fun! To avoid feeling tired and itchy from resting your head in foreign beds, here are my tips on surviving your dustmite allergy during travel.
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Avoid the Mite Hitchhike
In fact, dust mites travel the world just like we do. As we speak you could give millions of the tiny creatures a lift. They are on your clothes, in your bag, in your car and on the airplane. We can’t fool ourselves, they will never just go away, no matter how much you scrub or sanitise. But you can reduce their numbers. Only put washed clothes in your wardrobe. The same goes for your travel bag. Keep a separate bag for used and dirty clothing.
Bring Your Own Bed
Ok, that’s unreasonable but you don’t have to travel with mattress and mattress cover to ward yourself off from the mites. Mattresses and pillows in hotels are generally not encased (or washed adequately). You can, however, buy products that fit in your luggage and make you sleep better. Depending on how much space you have available, you can bring your own products. These could be a hypoallergenic pillow or a pillow cover. This you can use on the airplane and for replacing the hotel pillows (which are never that comfortable to begin with). To sleep between mostly dust mite free sheets, bring your own light, hypoallergenic sheets or snuggle up in a hypoallergenic sleeping bag liner.
Be Extra Sure
If you bring your own sheets or liner, then you might as well also bring your own hypoallergenic towels and sleeping mask along to combat dust allergy in hotels. Also, stay away from the comforter and decorative pillows as they are not washed as often as you would like. For extra measure, spray the room and bed with an allergen denaturing spray but put it in your checked luggage or it will be confiscated. Alternatively, you could fill it into a smaller spray bottle for travel purposes.
Get the Right Room
Before you book a room, make sure it is non-smoking and pet free. We all know how dust mites love to be carried around and live in furs. Furry pets means more hair shedding, more hair means higher chance of there still being some lying around, which is a perfect food hotspot for mites. If you are also allergic to mold, take rooms away from the pool and sea area. Also, I know there are hypoallergenic hotel rooms out there, so you might want to actively search for them.
Get a Dust Mite Allergy Treatment
For over a decade I have been undergoing hyposensibilization. I had to swallow tiny concentrated droplets and endured many a needle (and you can still see where) to get myself immunised. And though it helped a lot – as a kid I remember spending my summers peeking through extremely puffy eyes – it hasn’t cured it. It rarely does but I hated both methods anyway. How annoying is it to visit the doctor every few weeks for years on end? That sure isn’t working for travellers. So I signed up for a new hyposensibilization project, where I can medicate myself with some soluble tablets. That is actually brilliant and allows me to keep travelling. You should ask your doctor about it.
Let’s face it, we will probably never be rid of dust mite allergy and travelling with allergies can hardly be all-round pleasant. But that does not mean we have to give up the fight and sacrifice our health. Invest in some helpful and light gear to squeeze in your travel bags, take a few antihistamines with you (the not-so-sleepy kind) to be on the safe side and stay as much outside as possible. That’s what you came for, after all.
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