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Publication: Travel Tips
The Allergic Adventurer

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Tips & Advice for the Seasoned and Armchair Traveler Alike! 

Feb. 12, 2008 

Foreign language guides can be helpful when traveling.

They tell you how to shout 'Taxi!', how to find a bathroom,
and whether the menu item you’re eyeing is chicken, beef or

But rarely are they much help when you need to quickly tell
someone that you have a life-threatening allergy to gluten.

This week's topics include:




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Travelers who suffer from allergies suffer from a range of
problems that can spoil a vacation, ruin a business trip 
or even threaten their lives. And the source is usually 
invisible to the people packed onto the plane or tour bus
with the sufferer.

For some, it's food, like peanuts or shellfish. For others,
it's pollen or cigarette smoke. Or mold. Or dust mites. Or
bumble bees.

Whatever a travelers particular sensitivity, there's one
thing allergic adventures all need: Travel tips.

Here’s this week's list, pulled together with help from the
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and my own
experience as a traveler who takes asthma medication and
blows up like a puffer fish from wasp stings.

* "With you" means "with you"

Always take your allergy medication with you when you
travel. "With you" means in your purse, pocket or carry-on
bag, not in anything that's going to travel in a separate
compartment where you can't reach it. 

Folks with severe allergies who carry an epinephrine pen or
an asthma inhaler probably don't need to be reminded about
this. But people whose allergies seem to be under control
often do dismiss the possibility of a sudden attack.

Keep in mind that traveling, by its very definition, exposes
you to new things. That means allergens as well as the
Acropolis and topless beaches.

* Location, location, location

It may not be pollen season where you live, but it could be
where you're going.

Go online and check the pollen count of your destination
before you leave. Prepare accordingly. 

For an online map of fairly current pollen counts through-
out the United States, visit www.aaaai.org or 
www.accuweather.com. Once you get to your destination, click
on the Weather Channel, if it's available, or listen to
local weather reports to get an accurate pollen count.

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* Allergy anticipation

The best part of travel is experiencing new things. But
activities that deviate from your normal routine can also
expose you to things that can make you sneeze, swell,
sniffle, itch, wheeze or die.

Be prepared. If you're going to be outdoors, make sure you
have got that bee-sting medicine you keep in the back of the
medicine cabinet. Those Benadryl tablets you've safely
ignored while visiting a city or a museum, may become a
necessity after visiting a park or touring the countryside.
Especially if you have no clue how to say "Benadryl" in the
relevant foreign language and will have to resort to
guesswork at whatever pharmacy happens to be near you when
the allergies attack.

If you're allergies are severe enough, you might want to
consider skipping some potentially miserable activities,
even if the rest of your group jumps right in.

* Food flashcards

If you suffer from food allergies, you need to try to learn
the key, foreign-language words needed to convey your
problem to waiters, cooks or medical staff. An alternative
is buying a pack of food translation cards to hand out to
anyone with a hand in your dinner.

These laminated cards - about the size of a credit card -
address food-related problems in English and just about any
other major world language you need. If, for example, you're
traveling to India, you can get cards that say, in Japanese,
"I have a life-threatening allergy to shellfish". The card
would include a picture of a mollusk with a "not allowed"
symbol stamped over it. 

* Unwanted traveling companions

Traveling by bus, car or train can sometimes hold you
captive to dust mites, indoor molds, pollens and other
substances that lurk in the carpeting, upholstery and
ventilation systems of vehicles.

Before beginning a lengthy car trip turn on the air
conditioner or heater and open the windows for at least 10
minutes before entering the car. This will help flush out
mites or  molds that may be in the system. If pollen is the
problem, close your windows and turn on the air conditioning


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* Airborne, edible allergens

If you have food allergies, be extremely cautious when
eating airline food. Bring snacks with you so that, if you
are suspicious at all, you can bag the meal and survive on
nibbles during the flight.

Why take such care?

First, since the food comes from a vendor, no one on board
may be able to tell you the specific ingredients of the

Second, you're on a plane. A PLANE! If something goes wrong,
there's no rushing you to the neighborhood emergency room
before the symptoms threaten your life.

* Hotel hell

Every once in a while, some intrepid TV reporter will make
the rounds of hotels armed with an ultraviolet light or some
other device that show up every stain, secretion or mite
poop on the sheet.

Even the cleanest hotels may contain large concentrations of
dust mites and molds in the carpeting, mattresses and
upholstered furniture that can worsen your allergy or asthma
symptoms. Irritant fumes from cleaning products may also
cause problems.
When making hotel reservations, ask if there are allergy
proof rooms available. If you are sensitive to molds,
request a sunny, dry room away from areas near indoor pools.
Also, if you have allergies to any animals, inquire about
the hotel's pet policy, and request a room that has been

People who are allergic to dust mites may want to bring
their own dust-proof, zippered covers for pillows and
mattresses, or personal bedding. 

Well, that's it for this week, group. Thanks again for 
reading, and please keep those comments, complaints and 
questions coming in. 

You can send me an e-mail message at: Email Pierce

Until next week, thanks for reading.   

Your Tipmeister,   



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