A person with chronic hives wheels a suitcase and carries a bottle of hypoallergenic detergent

Chronic Hives & Travel

Summer time is travel time! Traveling is a time where you visit new, exciting places and create memories. I have always loved traveling. However, things changed when I got my chronic hives diagnosis. It became difficult for a few reasons. See, my hives can be triggered by a multitude of things ie: laundry detergent, soaps, shampoo, lotion, even plug in fragrances.

Now, you may be thinking, what does that have to do with traveling? Well, a few things! We started using Airbnb exclusively over 3 years ago. We’ve booked many, in several different areas. One thing I noticed was that they ALL used scented laundry detergent for their sheets and towels. This was a huge issue for me, as it sets off a flare of my hives, and it’s incredibly difficult to get it back under control.

Reaching out to our host

I was so unsure if I should reach out to my host, explain the situation, or just pack my own sheets and laundry. I went back and forth. In the beginning I didn't say anything. I didn’t want to be complicated, or too much. So I packed my own sheets and laundry detergent. Upon arrival I’d throw the towels into the washer, using my own detergent. One trip I forgot to pack sheets and laundry detergent. I had to go buy some. I was incredibly stressed out, and was frustrated that I had to do this just to minimize any reactions.

I reached out to our Airbnb host, explained that I’m extremely reactive to their laundry detergent, asking if for our next trip, they could use a hypoallergenic, fragrance free one. I was nervous awaiting their reply. They replied back with compassion and understanding! They switched EVERYTHING over to fragrance free! They didn’t have to, but they did. They were so kind and understanding.

Each trip I still get nervous, I still travel with my own detergent, but I've become proactive about asking about the laundry detergent used. I wish more would proactively switch to fragrance free, as it’s safer for their guests. At least I’m making some small changes along the way.

Tips and tricks to traveling

Traveling doesn't have to be scary, or overwhelming. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way:

  • Communicate with your host, regarding any sensitivity to laundry detergent or even soaps.
  • Bring along items that you know are safe for you.
  • Have emergency meds on hand, just in case.
  • If you are traveling with others, communicate your triggers and any possible reactions that could trigger a flare of your hives.
  • If certain fabrics are better in certain weather, pack those items.
  • Most importantly, have fun!

Living with chronic hives can be frustrating, draining, and absolutely miserable. However it’s still possible to live, laugh and travel while working to minimize flares. Knowing your triggers is honestly key for this. Knowing what can set a flare off, and how to minimize that risk is incredibly important. I didn’t want to give up traveling. I didn’t want to have to worry about breaking out in hives when I traveled. You shouldn’t worry either. Let's work together on bringing this topic up for awareness and maybe get some change going with Airbnb and VRBO hosts.

Chronic hives don't have to steal our travel joy. We can still travel, and make amazing memories, we just have to adjust and adapt some things.

What are some tips and tricks you've learned along the way?

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