Dust mites and mold are top allergy triggers to consider when lodging away from home. Dr. Mark Lazarovich, an allergist and the founder of AllerpassMD.com, the allergic traveler guide to hotels, offers Allergic Living readers top questions to ask hotel staff before you book:
Could I get a second floor or higher room?
The ground floor tends to have higher humidity than those above, providing a better breeding ground both mold and dust mites.
Do you have a room without carpeting?
Wood or tile flooring provides an easier surface to clean, while wall-to-wall carpeting offers a plush nest for dust mites.
Do you have dust mite covers for the pillows and mattresses?
Bedding is a favorite home for dust mites, but mattress encasements can form a barrier to keep them away from your sinuses for a sneeze-free sleep.
Can you provide a freshly washed comforter and blanket?
Though hotel sheets may be laundered nightly, the top bed coverings are unlikely to be washed on a regular basis, and can harbor dust mites. If just cleaned linens are unavailable, remove the bed cover.
Are the window coverings curtains or blinds?
Drapes can trap and hold onto both mold and dust mites, particularly if there is excess moisture around the windows. Opt for rooms that have clean vertical blinds, if possible, or ask if the curtains are treated to resist unwanted creatures.
Could you tell me about your in-room filtration and the air conditioning maintenance?
Keeping your question open-ended requires the staff to tell you about their air quality rather than providing a yes or no option. Regular air conditioning maintenance and quality air filtration (a HEPA filter would be ideal) is key to keeping both dust mites and mold at bay.
Before you settle into your booked room, ask: May I have a look at the room first?
Telltale signs of mold and dust mite issues include stains next to the windows, air conditioning, bathroom, and around the baseboards.
Does the shower have a mildew resistant curtain and bath mat?
Not as an odd a question as it may sound. For long-term maintenance, even some budget hotel chains are retrofitting bathrooms with mold-repelling showers and accessories.
If you’re looking for an allergy-friendly hotel, AllerPassMD.com lists and rates several at a wide variety of destinations here.
Alisa Fleming is a contributing editor to Allergic Living magazine and the author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance and Casein Free Living, and founder of Godairyfree.org.