Today’s post is Part 2 of my series on mold-free travel. Both posts address staying in hotel rooms when you are environmentally and chemically sensitive.
If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, it may be helpful to start there first to lay some groundwork for this post. HERE is a link to Part 1. Part 1 deals with packing for your trip and prepping your immune system for travel.
This post is centered around arrival at your hotel and the exact steps I take to immediately and proactively treat my hotel room, or temporary accommodations for mold.
Let’s start from the beginning, though, because there are some actions to take before getting to your room.
Step 1: Checking In
The moment we arrive at our hotel, I start focusing on my body. I do this by walking into the lobby, taking a few deep breaths, and having a look around before I even approach the front desk. This step is critical for me, because my nose has become my most powerful sensor for mold and chemicals. My congestion and sinus pressure in the presence of mold are instant. The smell of mold is also very distinctive for me. For some, their sense of smell has been significantly reduced, due to sickness or chronic sinusitis, but that does not mean that this will not work for you. All it means is that your other senses and body responses have probably become heightened to mold and environmental toxins.
In the years I have been learning about and dealing with mold-related health issues, I have yet to meet a fellow sufferer who did not know almost immediately that “something was wrong” with their body in the presence of mold. For some, this means headaches, for others, brain fog, nausea, dizziness, or the visceral flight or fight sensation that overcomes you mentally and physically. For example, a brief whiff of mold can trigger unexplained panic in some people. I experience this on occasion, if I don’t feel comfortable leaving or getting myself out of the situation gracefully. I think the sheer possibility of getting dealing with extreme sickness again sends my nervous system into a frenzy. Nevertheless, whatever that means for you, trust your body. It is a smart, smart vessel and is designed to protect you. Remember also, in a “sick, water-damaged building” mold is only a percentage of the problem. The bacteria, microbes, viruses, and VOCs also present because of water damage and mold growth are equally as problematic and toxic to our bodies. These dangers should not be minimized or ignored.
While walking around the lobby, I look up at the ceilings to see if I spot signs of leaks, old or new, and I also look for visible signs of mold growth. I also look at the HVAC vents, as best I can, just visually. If you see water stains or darkened spots on the ceilings or walls, or mold growing on any of the air vents, this is not a good sign, especially since the lobby is the hotel’s first impression and advertisement of what’s to come.
Another significant issue for me, because of my chemical sensitivity can be indoor pools. Some hotels place the pool directly off of the lobby. The chlorine can permeate the hotel when the pool has not been sufficiently separated and ventilated. When this is the case, I cannot stay there. The chemicals are too aggravating and toxic to my body. I also take this time to check in with my kids to make sure they feel ok and aren’t smelling any “funny” smells. Their feelings and health matters to me, because I want to teach them to trust their bodies too. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Once I have done this, I make my decision between 1) this hotel looks fine, my body feels fine, and I think I am ok to stay here, or 2) this hotel does not work for us. You will again be making this decision when you inspect your room, so you may have to return to this scenario, if you decide to leave upon inspecting your room.
Once your decision is made, I either check-in, letting the staff know that I will be inspecting the room to make sure that it will work for us, and then proceed to our room, or I go to the front desk and tell them my allergies are being ignited by something in the hotel, and we won’t be able to stay there. It is at this time that you will need to ask for a refund or to not be charged for the room. You may even ask for suggestions as to alternative lodgings. The more you ask for help and refrain from being oppositional and difficult, the easier this scenario goes.
This is how I address leaving, when I have had to do it:
I politely ask to speak to the manager on duty and ask for a refund or to cancel my room, depending on how I booked and if I paid up front. Be frank and up front with what is occurring with your health. Also mention that you called ahead to let them know of your allergies prior to arrival. Remember up to 50 million Americans have allergies, so they should not be blind-sighted. Your health is not something they can dispute.
If the manager insists that leaving without fees isn’t possible, I do not raise my voice, I keep my cool. I ask for their name and take pictures, so that I have proof and notes of who and what I am dealing with. The manager’s name will be necessary to have if you have to go up the food chain and lodge a formal complaint with customer service.
If the front desk is unhelpful and I made our reservation through a third party, like a travel website, or agent, I contact that provider’s customer service department and explain the situation. (You may not only get the reservation cancelled and your money refunded, but you may also ask for and get assistance with finding a new place to stay.)
If I decide to go ahead and leave without a refund, that doesn’t mean I can’t eventually get our money back. Once home, or where we end up staying, I send emails to all of the contacts on their website (Google the owner and cc them, too). I include any photos and names of employee who were not helpful. If they still refuse to issue a refund, I take it up with the head office, if it is a major chain. If that doesn’t work, I file an online claim against the hotel with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
I have NEVER gotten to this place, though. This is mostly, because I did so much initial research and calling prior to my arrival. (I detail all of that process in Part 1.) I have, as of yet, never had a problem leaving a hotel or getting my room changed. The bottom line here is that you have a RIGHT to leave, especially if staying in the hotel will make you sick. You should not feel made to stay just because of the refund issue.
Once, when we were set to stay in a Hyatt property and my body reacted to our room, the hotel I couldn’t stay in called another Hyatt property about 20 miles down the road for me to reserve a new room. We proceeded to that property, checked in and had a wonderful stay with no issues. This is another reason why booking a major chain can become helpful to your finding a healthy place for you to stay.
Step 2: Inspecting Your Room
Once inside the room, repeat checking in with your body and the visual inspection I described above. Also check any window HVAC units, the bathroom ceiling and wallpaper, and sniff for cigarette smells, and musty odors. Also, look for condensation on the windows, because that means moisture is being continuously trapped in room due to improper ventilation and air circulation. If the room has any of these things going on, I request a room change. If any harsh cleaning chemicals have been used recently, I sometimes have to get a room change as well. My body just cannot handle the fumes.
If the room passes your inspection, you are set to move forward to the next step in this post. If your body reacts to the room, take pictures on your phone, if possible. Then, call or go down to the front desk and request a room change. If the hotel is full, or they refuse to make it right, go back to the previous section and take the steps to leave the hotel. If they send you to a different room, repeat the inspection step until you are in a room that feels good to you and you can stay in.
I do want to make the obvious statement here that I do realize that this travel. Travel sometimes means dealing with imperfect situations to the best of your ability. I also realize that hotels are not perfect and ideal for both cleanliness and air quality reasons. All of this information is meant for environmentally sensitive people who can fall VERY ill or set their recovery back significantly from staying in a hotel with poor air quality, toxins and/or mold. I am one of these people, my son is also one of these people and our toxic “buckets” were filled to overflowing with our mold exposure. At this point, small exposures for us are the same as a prolonged exposure for someone else. Thus, I have to take these kinds of precautions to protect our health.
That being said, I have definitely stayed in hotels that were far from the cleanest, but my body was NOT reacting to anything in them. Those places may have not been my favorites, but they did not make me sick and regress my recovery. This is an important distinction to make.
Think about this the way: You would not hesitate to leave a hotel with a bug infestation. You wouldn’t feel self-conscious or bad about not staying there, so do not feel badly about refusing to stay in a moldy hotel room. I hope this way of thinking will empower you, rather than overwhelm you. It is definitely a thought shift, but one that will serve you well in your recovery.
Step 3: Treating Your Hotel Room
Now for the information you are probably reading this post for in the first place!
Before you put anything away or settle into your room, remove your little arsenal of products and tools from your purse, carry-on, and suitcase and get to work!
(Note: The original list is included in Part 1. I have divided it a little differently in this post to streamline the process for you.)
This entire process will only take you about 5-10 minutes to complete and will make your stay 100% better from a health perspective. You can repeat it daily during your stay or just whatever parts of it feel needed, according to how you are doing and how you feel.
Products and Tools:
- EC3 Air Purification Candles and a lighter
- Electrostatic Dust cloths – I just use the disposable ones that go on the dusting mops.
- Tall, unscented kitchen trash bags
- Earthview Multi-Surface Cleaner put into a small travel-size spray bottle
- TSA-compliant bottles of EC3 Mold Spray
- Pillows and pillowcases from home
- Open and place your EC3 Candles on their lids throughout the room. One candle will purify the air in a 600-square-foot room in about 3 hours. Light your candles per package instructions and try to allow them to burn continuously for 3 hours the first day. After that, you can just light them and allow them to burn whenever you are in the room.
- While the candles are burning, use your dusting cloths to wipe the vents on the HVAC vents or unit. Even in new hotels, dust congregates on the vents. Dust then traps and feeds mold, so removing it will help to make your air cleaner. Wipe down any surfaces that you will be using or placing your things on. When finished, use one of your tall plastic kitchen bags to dispose of the cloths in.
- Take a washcloth or paper towels from the bathroom and use the Earthview Multi-Surface Cleaner to wipe down any hard surfaces. I wipe down the desk, drawers and handles, bathroom counter and faucets, bedside table, and even any vinyl furniture. Just concentrate on anything you will be touching or putting your things on. If you used paper towels, dispose of them in the trash bag as well. If you used a washcloth, place it in the sink until you are finished with everything else.
- Mist the entire room, furniture, bedding, pillows, drapes, blinds, carpet, and hard surfaces with the EC3 Mold Spray. I also mist the HVAC unit and vents. Allow it to air dry.
- At this point, you can remove any hotel pillows from the beds, place them in the closet, and put your own pillows on the beds.
- Seal your trash bag and throw it away outside of your room, if possible. Rinse any washcloths you used and make a “dirty” towel pile for the hotel cleaning staff to pick up when they clean the room.
Step 4: Maintaining Your Room and Clothing During Your Stay
Burn the EC3 Candles each time you are in your room. I also advise you to mist the room, furnishings, bedding and pillows with EC3 Mold Spray each day before you go to bed. You will need to use one of the trash bags for your dirty clothes as well. Just bag up your clothes as you go through them, and keep the bag sealed until you get home and can wash your things with detergent and EC3 Laundry Additive. Before you leave, remove your pillowcases and place them in the dirty clothing bag. Place your pillows in separate trash bags and seal them to protect your pillows until you get them home. You will need to thoroughly mist them with EC3 Spray before bringing them back into your home.
Step 4: Maintaining Your Immunity and Health During a Hotel Stay
These are the steps we take while staying in a hotel to make sure our health doesn’t suffer. The complete list of products I pack for this can be found in Part 1.
1) We drink our bottled spring water to prevent drinking tap water during the trip. It keeps us hydrated and away from tap water that contains chlorine and can aggravate any fungal issues.
2) We use Sinus Defense 3 times a day during travel. I use 3 sprays under my tongue each time, but you can use up to 9, if you are having symptoms or issues. I also squirt my kids 3 times a day. It will help your body withstand any mold that is your environment and will aid your immune system.
3) We wear our Wein Mini-Mate Personal Air Purification Units in any places that start to affect us. You can even wear it in your room, if needed.
4) We squirt our noses with CitriDrops Nasal Spray at least twice a day to get rid of mold spores at their entrance point to the body.
5) We drink 8 drops of CitriDrops Dietary Supplement in 4 ounces of spring water each night before bed to prevent any digestive issues that may arise related to fungus or bacteria.
6) We use our Earthview Shampoo/Body Wash, Conditioner, and Body Lotion instead of the scented and harsh hotel-provided toiletries.
7) I stay on Dr. Burstiner’s Wellness Protocol to keep my nutrient, mineral, and essential vitamins at optimum levels. (I have an upcoming post covering all aspects of this protocol. Stay tuned! It is awesome!)
8) I use Melatonin when needed to aid sleep for me and my children when we are out of our normal routine. I don’t want to get sleep deprived when I am not in an optimal environment for my health.
9) I take Beta Max 500 each morning on an empty stomach to start my day off with a powerful ally to removing any mold, viruses or pathogens that may enter my body while I am travelling.
Does this help? I know it is a ton of info, but I didn’t want to leave any stone unturned. If I have left anything out, or if you have any questions, comment here or email me.