If you have allergies to pets, business travel may be a bit of a challenge, depending on how frequently you travel and where you go. Perhaps you dread it, especially if you have to do it often for your business. Or if you have a severe allergy, perhaps you avoid travel altogether.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, almost 10 million pet owners are allergic to their pets. The allergen comes from a protein in the pet's saliva, dander, urine, and even their fur-- no pet is truly "hypoallergenic".
While you may have to do a bit more research and disinfecting (though you should do this anyway), there are ways to travel comfortably when you are allergic to pets.
1. Fly with airlines that have pet limits.
Knowing that airlines limit how many animals are allowed in each cabin may be useful if you have a mild allergy. You can call the airline and ask to be seated far away from a passenger that has paid to bring their pet. However, there are no limits to the number of service animals allowed on a flight.
I travel often and do see pets flying more frequently. I was recently on a Jet Blue flight that had about 7 animals. But even if there are no animals on the flight, there will likely still be pet dander that has traveled via your fellow passengers' clothing, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The best thing to do is check if the airline you plan on flying allows pets in the cabin you plan on purchasing your ticket in. Call the airline and explain your situation. They may be able to help.
If you are flying a long-haul flight, consider flying with airlines that limit the number of animals on board.
2. See your doctor for medication.
As stated above, there is no way that you can 100 percent avoid pet dander. Because of this, you should contact your doctor and/or see an allergist. Explain that you will be traveling and ask for advice or medications to help.
It also helps to have a plan with your doctor. Ask them for recommendations that can help you for the day you will be traveling. It's likely best to keep medications on hand at all times.
3. Talk to the airline, train, car rental agency, etc. and your accommodation about your allergy.
Once that is done, talk to the airline and your accommodation about helping you with your allergy. Politely notifying the airline can make a big difference. Should an allergy attack happen, a flight attendant will know what to look for.
The airline may even let you board early to clean your area, though this is subject to the airline's discretion. If they do let you board early, wipe down with wet wipes as many surfaces as possible. Wipe down your tray table, the armrests, your seat, and the handles to open the overhead bins.
The same goes for your train, boat, and/or car rental agency. You'll want to do research beforehand so you know what policies they have and if they have any special allowances. Speaking to your hotel is definitely recommended.
However, you may want to consider staying at an Airbnb. Consider staying with or at a Superhost's home. They are equipped for a business traveler to have a comfortable yet productive stay. They also tend to be cleaned professionally.
While it will take more research and communication, talking to different homeowners can help you determine the best place for you to stay.
4. Keep medications near.
You'll want to avoid putting your medications in an overhead bin. Instead, put them in your bag under the seat in front of you. You may explain to the attendant that your medications will be there should anything happen.
5. Wear protective clothing.
Wear long sleeves, slacks, and closed-toe shoes to limit the amount of contact your skin can make with irritants. Consider wearing glasses to protect your eyes. You can even use a scarf to cover your face.
If possible, shower after your travels. And never use airline pillows or blankets. They don't get cleaned often.
6. Be prepared.
Allergy shots may be helpful, though it is a process to build up immunity. If you will likely be doing a lot of traveling for your business, investing in these treatments can help you make the most out of your travels.
Know that there may be a possibility that you will be rerouted should you be unable to travel due to an animal being present. Because of this, it may be best to consider traveling with carriers that have multiple flights, rides, etc. to your final destination.