I realize I have written about treating a hotel room for mold and what to pack to prevent mold exposure during travel before, but since I am travelling this week with my kids, I thought I would revisit the topic. This time, in two parts. Today’s post will cover preparing for my trip, what I pack, and how I prepare my body for travel. In a later post, I will address how I use trusted tools and products to treat my surroundings for mold in a hotel room situation.
So, why is preparing properly for travel and immediately treating a hotel room for mold important to your health? Is doing all of this overkill?
Hotels are notorious for mold. Most hotels are constructed with room to room temperature control, so the air is not properly and continuously circulating. If a room is not being used, for example, many times, the HVAC unit in that room is turned off completely. Thus, the air does not move and stays stagnant until the next guest occupies it. There is also wide use of vinyl wall paper in hotels. The vinyl traps moisture between the drywall and the wall paper and creates a perfect habitat for mold. In addition, when you take up residence in your hotel room, you are coming in on top of the people who stayed there before you. Mold spores hitchhike on any organic material, like clothing, hair, shoes, luggage. If one of those former guests live in a moldy home, you are sleeping in the bed, walking on the carpet, sitting on the chairs and hanging your clothes in the closet with whatever mold they brought in. Unless the cleaning staff is using products and the hotel is using air filtration that targets mold, those spores aren’t going anywhere and are getting into your things and on you. This can create an unhealthy situation for anyone, but for people with mold sensitivity and/or multiple chemical sensitivity, this can create a health crisis.
To give you a real-life example, a mold patient who had gotten out of a moldy home, sought treatment and finally gotten well over a period of years spent two nights in a moldy hotel room. The second morning, her vertigo and brain fog were so bad, that she could not drive her car or physically leave the hotel without help. She and I actually connected through this blog about a year ago. It was not until she returned home, got back into her home, and had antifungal sinus irrigation, and reinstituted a total body detox protocol that she returned to good health. Now, this is a person who had previously exhausted her toxic burden and mold threshold, and who then re-exposed herself to very poor air quality, but her situation is real and should be regarded seriously, especially by people, like me, who do not want to set themselves back in their recovery. I actually regard this type of situation so seriously that I will walk out of buildings, restaurants, etc., if I sense that my health is being compromised by the air quality or surroundings.
With all of that said, you still have to live your life. So, here is how I go about living my life, traveling, staying in a hotel, and keeping myself and my family well.
Weeks before we leave to go out of town, whenever possible, I start preparations for our trip. This consists of the following:
1) I spend time researching hotels.
My ultimate goal is to find one that is both on the newer side, so that it has not had as much chance to acquire mold in the HVAC system, or to have had major flooding or water damage that could create mold issues, and that gets high marks on room cleanliness and sanitation. I find that the more conscious the hotel management is about cleanliness and tidiness, the better they also tend to be about building maintenance and attending to those things that could cause mold issues in the first place. It doesn’t have to be a five-star hotel to be clean. Our access the internet gives us a direct line to customer feedback and reviews. This is priceless information for us mold-sensitive folks. For example, one review that mentions musty, cigarette, or mildew-y smells in any of the guest rooms is all I need to “x” a hotel off of my list.
If a hotel is under renovations or brand new, I avoid it. Dust flying and opened up walls do not do my body any favors. I do have chemical sensitivity and have issues with the off-gassing of new carpeting, building materials, paints, etc., so renovations or a brand-new hotel is a consideration for those things as well. To account for this, I like choosing hotels that have been open for at least 5 months. Things have usually off-gassed by that point. I also like to look for hotels without window HVAC units in the rooms, as those tend to recirculate stale air, often create moisture with wide temperature changes, and ultimately harbor mold and bacteria. I prefer hotels that use the washable duvet covers, rather than comforters on the beds. Comforters are usually treated with flame retardant and are highly toxic for me. They are also not washed regularly and contemplating all that it gets exposed to is too much! Thus, whatever the previous guests had on their clothing, the comforter has on it too.
I prefer to stay in trusted hotel chains, like Hyatt, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Westin, Marriott, etc., because they are also more allergy savvy and have to maintain corporate standards and reviews to stay open and operational. Large chains are also more amenable to the needs of highly sensitive and allergic customers—some already have allergy-friendly rooms designated in their offerings. These are also the chains that offer PURE rooms. (Read my post on PURE rooms HERE.)
2) Once I decide on a hotel, I place a call to inform them of any special needs or requests.
About a week prior to our trip, I call the hotel and give them a version of the following spiel:
“Hi. My family and I will be checking in on this date. I just wanted to touch base with you, because I have severe allergies. I cannot be in a room where any smoking has occurred or any pets have stayed in the past 30 days. If your cleaning crew has unscented cleaning products and/or allergy-free room materials, like bedding that they can use for our room, I would greatly appreciate it. I just react to everything, and it would be so helpful, if you could put those notes in with our reservation. Also, are there any services or specific rooms that you reserve for highly-allergic customers?”
At this time, many customer service representatives will inform you of any special services that the hotel offers its allergic customers. Sometimes, the person will not be interested or care, but 99% of the time, my phone call is met with helpful advice and an appreciative staff member who really would like to make our stay pleasant. The nicer and more positive I behave, the more willing the person usually is to help me.
3) I gather and take inventory of my arsenal of mold cleaning and prevention products that I will need to take with me on my trip.
You don’t want to leave making sure you have all that you need for your trip to the last minute. There is nothing worse than going to look for a “must have” product and not having it, or not having enough of it to take with you or to last on your trip. Prevent this by laying out all of the products (see below for my suggestions) you want to take a week prior to your trip. This will give you time to order more, if needed. I actually like to keep my travel products separate from my everyday mold products just so that I never run out of them, or so that, if I have to travel unexpectedly, I have them ready and waiting to go. That has just been another strategy of mine that has been super effective and helpful. For frequent travelers, having your own kit is a must.
4) I steel my immune system to ready my body for the wear and tear of travel or less-than-great air quality and/or accommodations.
This strategy is not only physically beneficial, but it is mentally advantageous as well. As I am sure many of you reading this know, the psychological ramifications of worrying about mold, relapse, or re-exposure can wreck your health for long periods of time. Simply putting a solid immunity protocol into place that you know works and helps you can make leaving home less of an anxious event. You should definitely consult your doctor or other trusted health professional first.
Helpful immunity boosters are as follows:
- A week or so prior to our trip, I make a conscious effort to increase my sleep and quality of sleep by shutting off electronics after dinner and establishing an earlier bedtime—I also take melatonin to help me fall asleep or Mary Ruth’s Liquid Nighttime Supplement to support restful sleep.
- I begin taking a colostrum supplement to increase my body’s natural immunity and ability to fight sickness. The two I recommend are Logos Nutritionals Colostrum and Kion Colostrum.
- I up the frequency and dosage of Sinus Defense. I usually use 2 sprays twice a day, but before and during travel, I use 3-4 sprays three times a day. This helps my body to defend itself against any mold or fungal antigens. The spray is designed to spur adaptive immunity to most potential fungus and mold within the body. Thus, when it is used continuously over time, your immune system becomes proficient at identifying, tagging, and eliminating those and other related antigens. As a result of using it, I am sick less often and have less issues if and when I encounter mold. If you want to read more about Sinus Defense, click HERE.
- I take Beta Max 500 first thing in the morning. It contains Beta 1, 3, D glucan, an important food supplement reported to support immune function against chronic diseases, cancer, flu, viruses, bacteria, parasites, radiation, stress, intense exercise, and diabetes. It is a great tool in and of itself, but also boosts the effectiveness of Sinus Defense. This is because as the Sinus Defense activates the T-cells in your immune system against the fungal antigens, the Beta Max 500 increases macrophage production in the body. Increased macrophages (the “garbage cleaners” of the immune system) help the body to get rid of the antigen more effectively. Thus, it is not able to stay in your body as long to add to your toxic burden, create inflammation, and lead to illness or disease.
- I use Dr. Burstiner’s Wellness Protocol that is all-inclusive with nutritional and glandular factors, liver support, digestive support, probiotics and Omega fatty acids. The protocol is established, tested and proven to assist anyone with chronic illness or immune issues with meeting their nutritional needs to optimize their health and well-being. It does consist of a lot of pills, but I have not found anything comparable that does a better job of keeping me well. I literally take the complete protocol 2 times a day, and don’t have to worry as much about not getting my nutritional needs met while on the road. (Note: I plan to write a complete post about the Dr. Burstiner Wellness Protocol and how it has made a very positive impact in my battle both with mold illness and ulcerative colitis—a chronic condition I acquired as a result of our mold exposure.)
- I stick to a whole foods-based Paleo diet. Reigning in my nutrition is huge for my health prior to a trip. The more I focus my meals on meats, non-starchy vegetables, non-hydrogenated fats, and some fruits, the better I feel, and the more my body continues to heal and stay well. A Paleo diet also decreases inflammation and promotes healthy digestion. I also consciously up my dark, leafy greens intake by adding a green smoothie to my day. This will naturally increase magnesium and Vitamin K levels in your body, help you to get in your daily veggies, and increase fiber in your diet. You need to keep all of your waste pathways open, if you know what I mean!
- I get plenty of exercise and outdoor activity. I cannot stress enough the importance of regular exercise to your health. Exercise is a natural detoxifier. It promotes cell turnover, cardiovascular strength, muscular endurance, endorphins and mitochondrial function, just to name a few. When I travel, I get away from my routines and find it hard to get in exercise. Making the conscious effort to get it in before I leave makes additional sitting during travel a little less damaging to my body.
After all preparations are made, I start packing my travel arsenal. Depending on whether or not you are flying, you may have to pair this down a bit. For example, you will want to omit the bottled waters and get those when you arrive. Of course, you will have to be the judge on all of that. To further streamline things for you, I have divided the list into suitcase items and purse or carry-on items. In other words, things you will not need until you arrive, vs. things you will want to keep with you. It contains the following products and tools:
1) TSA-compliant bottles of EC3 Mold Spray to treat the room upon arrival, especially the bed linen and pillows because of the long exposure.
2) Earthview Multi-Surface Cleaner put into a small travel-size spray bottle to treat the room and or surfaces during travel.
3) Sinus Defense to use throughout travel and upon arrival to keep immunity up for mold.
4) CitriDrops Nasal Spray to keep mold that enters my nose from further entering my body and causing illness.
5) CitriDrops Dietary Supplement to treat any digestive issues that may arise related to fungus or bacteria.
6) Wein Mini-Mate Personal Air Purification Unit to wear in any bad air quality situations, like a plane, restaurant, etc.
7) EC3 Air Purification Candles and a lighter to burn in the room upon arrival and throughout the trip.
8) My own pillow and pillowcase from home—pillows and pillow cases for my kids to prevent my face coming into contact with allergens.
10) Electrostatic Dust cloths to use in the room upon arrival.
11) Measured-out per day tablets for Dr. Burstiner’s Wellness Protocol to keep my nutrient, mineral, and essential vitamins at optimum levels.
12) Melatonin gummies to aid sleep for me and my children when we are out of our normal routine.
13) Beta Max 500 to fortify my immune system.
14) Tall, unscented kitchen trash bags for packing and sealing up dirty clothing, blankets and stuffed animals until we can treat them at home with EC3 Laundry Additive.
15) Bottled spring water to prevent drinking tap water during the trip. (I do not usually use plastic bottles, but during travel, it is difficult to find quality water to refill my glass canisters with, so I make the exception out of necessity.) Having ample water will also help us to stay hydrated which will keep us healthy during travel. Many people do not know this, but dehydration can become a huge issue when people are travelling. Dehydration makes you tired, less alert, more prone to eating when you are not actually hungry, and makes your body more vulnerable to sickness.
That’s all for today. Next week, I will take you through your arrival, treating your room, and what to do upon returning home. Stay tuned!