As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently escaped the cold Michigan winter weather and visited Florida for a few weeks.
While much less difficult today than it was a few years ago, if you have to eat gluten-free, or want healthier food options, traveling can be a little bit of a challenge. However, besides food, chemicals and toxins are a concern for me when traveling because of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Fortunately, my symptoms have lessened in recent times, but I still have to be diligent about taking precautions when I travel. Actually, my symptoms had lessened so much so in recent times that I had blocked out how awful it was to live with MCS. I am to the point that as long as I have a “safe” environment to regularly live in, I am able to live a pretty normal life. I still get perfumed bombed at church, and can’t walk down the detergent aisle at a grocery, but my reactions don’t last near as long as they once did.
Traveling with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Can Be a Challenge
Even though I experience less symptoms today than I once did, traveling can still be difficult and it reminds me how absolutely awful it is to live with MCS. Unfortunately, my symptoms really flared up while at one of the destinations we were staying in Florida. My husband and I had to put on our detective hats to try to figure out what was causing my reactions. There was an air freshener which had been plugged in. The scent of toxic fragrances from the years of soap that had been used in the bathroom lingered. I washed the towels to try to remove the prior detergent smell. The sheets smelled of fabric softener and dryer sheets (when traveling, I bring my own sheets, but I still have to remove the “toxic” sheets from the room). I tried multiple mattresses in the condo, but they were giving me reactions. Not sure how new the mattresses were, but I can get reactions from the flame retardant.
I ultimately spent a night sleeping (or trying to sleep) on the floor with my head as close to a window as possible. The reactions continued to be awful. My husband and I couldn’t figure out what was physically in the room that was causing the problem. We thought we had removed everything possible. With such terrible reactions that I was experiencing, and having taken care of everything we thought might be causing them, I concluded it had to be either mold, or something in the actual structure of the unit.
Needless to say, I couldn’t spend an entire week staying there being miserable. We had previously stayed at a Westgate Resort and I didn’t experience major reactions. Fortunately, I had a contact at the resort. I called him and explained my situation in regards to MCS and that I couldn’t stay at the condo we were visiting. He was able to get us a room so I could enjoy the rest of our vacation. I want to give kuddos to Westgate. Both times I have stayed with them, I have asked them not to clean our room with harsh chemicals before we arrived. Each time we stayed there, the rooms were not strong of cleaning chemicals and worked well for me.
Travel Suggestions for those with Chemical Sensitivities
Traveling with MCS can be difficult, but it is possible if you take extra precautions. I recommend searching for accommodations which are eco-friendly, or environmentally safe. However, if you are unable to find a place, here are some suggestions which may help:
- Call the hotel/condo/resort ahead of time to make sure they don’t have new carpet, or have recently done a new renovation.
- Ask if they use air fresheners
- Ask them not to clean your room with harsh chemicals
- Ask to have a room with a window that opens (so you can air it out)
- Ask to have a non-smoking room – one that has never been used as a smoking room
- Ask to have an end unit
- Ask for a room with a couch or over-sized chair (in case you can’t handle the mattress)
- Bring your own towels and sheets
- If staying at a resort or for an extended period of time, bring your own dish and laundry detergent
- If you have a travel air filter, don’t forget to bring it!
- Don’t forget your supplements or other items which help keep your chemical reactions to a minimum
By taking precautions ahead of time, hopefully you can enjoy your entire vacation!
Living Natural Today Wants to Know
- If you have MCS, do you travel?
- What additional travel suggestions do you have to make your vacation tolerable?