I have had he occasion to stay at friends’ homes a few times since finding out about my allergies. It always makes me at least a little bit nervous, but I’ve come to develop a bit of a routine and packing list, which helps a lot. Plus choosing to stay with friends who are aware of the extent of my allergies helps a lot, too.
I always tell friends don’t bother cleaning before I come to stay. If thy don’t know why, I explain why and tell them about my allergies. It’s social nature to clean before having guests in your home, but fresh cleaning chemicals are even worse than ones that have been sitting on surfaces a while. If they want to clean, I suggest wiping/washing with vinegar and water, or just water. One friend went so far as to wipe surfaces I would be touching in the bathroom with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and water. Believe me, it helped. They also picked up a Brita filter to help me avoid chlorine (I didn’t ask them to). I assured them that boiled water or water used to cook things was chlorine free enough for me, but the Brita filter definitely helped with drinking water.
When I travel, I always take the following items with me in addition to the standard stuff everyone might pack:
- Travel bidet and toilet cloths
- A large jug of distilled water
- My own towels, hand towels, and face cloths
- My own pillow, sheets, and blanket, or sleeping bag
- Neti pot and salt packets
- My own soap
- My Grayl Legend cup
- A fabric sleep mask
- A container of almond milk and a box of cereal
The last few times I’ve had the privilege of having a separate bathroom than the owners of the house. In this case, I put my bar of soap beside the sink and asked others using the bathroom to use it, too. I use the towel I brought, in another room, to wipe my hands dry. I don’t keep my towels in the bathroom so that no one else using the other hand soaps will use them, too. If I don’t have a separate bathroom, I tend to avoid touching as much as possible, even going so far as to open the door and turn off the light before finishing washing my hands, so I can get out and to my towel without touching things. To avoid chlorine, I keep the jug of distilled water beside the sink. I can wash my hands in tap water, then rinse with distilled. I can do the same when I shower. I also use the distilled water for the neti pot and the travel bidet. I use my neti pot and medications religiously when I travel, to both prevent and combat any early allergies. If I need to wipe something down, the extra towels come in handy.
For sleeping, I try to bring everything that will touch my skin. And I add layers. I make sure to wear long-sleeved and -legged pyjamas, in addition to having my own bedding. If I have concerns about scents or chemicals in the room, I wear a sleep mask.
Since I can’t have milk products or eggs, the main constituents of breakfasts in North America, I always have a standby breakfast. Almond milk is nice because it can last for a few days without refrigeration, if necessary, making travel easier. It can also stay out of my hosts’ fridge if there’s no room, though it certainly tastes better refrigerated.
Finally, I have the Grayl travel cup. This cup has the filter built right in, so no matter where I am I can have safe drinking water. Once the filter is wet, it has to be used until it wears out (about 200 cups of water) or dried for several days and then kept in a sealed plastic bag, so if I can avoid breaking it out, I do.
Even with allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances to water, foods, and chemicals, a short stay outside of your home can be at least tolerable. What precautions and items do you take when you stay with friends? Comment below.