Allergy sufferers know that staying at hotels can bring about an array of problems brought about by dust, pet allergens, bad air quality and toxic cleaners.

As someone who is allergic to almost everything, ranging from dust mites and cigarette smoke to cats and common detergents, I used to dread staying even at the best properties. This is no longer the case. By taking a few precautions, I can avoid having serious allergy reactions while traveling.

Before the Trip

Do your homework – make a list of problems you are likely to experience. Do you suffer from pet allergies, dust mites or food allergies? Does cigarette smoke make your eyes water? Are you allergic to dawn pillows and duvets?

After you’ve completed your list, think of the best ways to prevent an allergic reaction. From my own experience, I know that may not always be easy. Even common detergents that are used to wash hotel sheets and towels cause my skin to turn red, itchy and bumpy – not a good start to a vacation. Therefore, I pack my own pillowcase, a sheet and a towel (washed at home with an environmentally-friendly product, such as Ecover or Seventh Generation).

If you suffer from pet allergies, you may want to avoid staying at pet-friendly places altogether. Even if the property does a good job of cleaning the room before you arrive, pet allergens are nearly impossible to completely eliminate. For example, cat allergen particles are so small that they remain airborne for extended periods of time. If pets are allowed there, ask for a room that has been pet-free for at least 30 days.

Just because a property is in the luxury category, you should not assume that you will not have allergy problems. You can, however, expect a higher level of service and call ahead of time to make sure you get everything you need.

When You Arrive

When checking in, make sure your room has everything you’ve asked for – hypoallergenic bedding, has not accommodated a pet in the last 30 days, has been thoroughly cleaned and is non-smoking.

When the bellhop brings your bags to your room, ask him to wait so that you can perform a quick check. This is where you have to trust your senses – everything can look great, but if your eyes start to water then something is amiss.

If you are not happy with your room, ask to speak to the manager – it is his job to make your stay more comfortable. Explain your allergies and request to be put in a different room. Since hotels are constantly updating their rooms, there is a good chance that the manager will be able to get you a room that has been recently renovated, which means that it is cleaner.

If you’ve done your homework, packed your medication and remain vigilant while checking into your room, you have a great chance of avoiding allergy troubles on your vacation.

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