Travel Tips Update

This week, I thought I would post an update to my previous traveling post. We’re back from our trip and it was fairly successful.

My care package arrived ahead of me so that I had all my own personal products on hand. No searching for all those items while on vacation. I had plenty of zippered plastic bags with me to put things in for the trip back – since you can’t carry them on an airplane. The zippered bags were definitely needed as they contained the inevitable leaks caused by the non-pressurized space for luggage.

Our hotel worked out OK, though it could have been better. The potpourri was very pervasive throughout the hotel. Although not so much in our room. There was a perfumey odor on the linens in our bed. We borrowed pillows & cases from my step-daughter and that made it tolerable. A week before our trip, I had sent a letter to the hotel listing my requests. I received an e-mail reply stating that they would instruct the Housekeeping Dept. to stay out of our room. Well, that turned out to not be such a good idea – the trash piled up, the towels were damp, we ran out of coffee. We finally reached an agreement where they would come in and do a minimal amount of cleaning.

We didn’t really use the Zeolite for odor absorption. The car was okay without anything – meaning it hadn’t been smoked in recently, if at all, and it had no perfume smell. At home, I’ve banished all my husband’s dry cleaned clothing to one closet. I’m putting the Zeolite in there to see if it helps.

We also didn’t need to test out the Wein AutoMate. It plugs into the car and helps to clear the air. I can tell you that it does work. We have one in both cars and use it often. It takes care of the car exhaust and cigarette smoke that get into your car. It also helps when a friend or family member that uses perfumed products gets into your car.

The Wein MiniMate was worth all of the pennies (quite a few) that it cost me. On our plane rides to California, I used it the entire time. I had zero migraine. A first on a plane in some time! I also used it whenever we were in the hotel common areas or elevator. It definitely helped. On the return trip, I had forgotten to put a battery in my carry on bag and the battery died. The trip wasn’t quite as good migraine-wise. But still better than in the past. Some of that can be attributed to the medication from my neurologist.

That’s my report. If you have any tips or ideas to add, leave a comment.

A couple of websites

Here are a couple of sites that may be of interest to you if you have problems with fragrances or other chemicals in our air. You might also point the nay-sayers in your life to them. (You know the ones, they tend to not want to hear what you have to say. Lest they learn too much about what’s bad in the cosmetics and fragrances they use.)

First is a PBS report titled “Trade Secrets.” It addresses toxic chemicals found throughout our environment. The report tells about the ways in which our right to know has been compromised. It brings up the issue of trade secrets which prevent us from knowing what is in fragrances and cosmetics. Be sure to check out “The Options.” The section under Options titled “Protecting Yourself” provides information, room by room, about the chemicals present in your home.

Follow this link to get to PBS: Trade Secrets.

Another good site is part of the FDA. It’s a site totally related to Cosmetics. It provides information on what the FDA regulates, and what it cannot. There’s lot of good information here. For an eye-opener, try the True/False Quiz. You’ll get feedback after each question and could learn something new.

Travel for the Fragrance-Challenged

I’ve never done well with air travel. I often wind up from a migraine – between the jet fuel, everyone’s perfume and the notorious air quality in airplane cabins. Plus, the last time I stayed in a motel, I got very little sleep because of the fragranced chemicals used in the room.

When I travel, I have to take everything with me – shampoo, soap, all of it. I’ve always carried it on the plane with me, because I couldn’t afford for the bag to get lost, delayed, or picked up by someone else. But now, with the current state of air travel, I can’t be sure that I will be allowed to carry it all with me – even if it would fit in a 1 quart zip lock bag. Buying them at my destination isn’t an option because they aren’t readily available at your average grocery. Where I’m going in California, I would have to drive to either LA or San Diego to find a Whole Foods!

Usually, my choice is not to travel. But my step-daughter gets married next week in California, and I would not miss it for the world. So after a lot of discussions and internet searching, here is my plan:

  1. I am preparing a “care package” that I will send to my step-daughter. It will contain all the personal products I need. I should know before I leave that it got there ok. Going home’s not a problem, because I will have spares at home.
  2. When I made our hotel reservations, I discussed my problem with them. They have said they will make what accomodations they can. But they admit to having potpourri in the common areas. I’ve asked them to not use aerosols (as much as possible), to remove the bedspread and other dry-cleaned items. Also no furniture polish. I’ve also requested a room with windows that open, and that they be opened in advance of our arrival. My step-daughter, bless her heart, has checked out the place and given it an “ok”.
  3. We’ll be borrowing blankets – also sheets, towels and pillows if necessary.
  4. I also found an item called Zeolite. It comes in a bag and is supposed to absorb odors. The bags were relatively cheap, so I have two – one for the hotel and one for the rental car.
  5. For the rental car, my husband wanted to get one that had no sprayed air freshener and had never been smoked in. I told him Good Luck. I’ve also gotten the Wein AutoMate. It plugs into a cigarette lighter and is supposed to help clear the air in a car. Other people swear by it.
  6. I’ve also bought the Wein MiniMate. It hangs around the neck and acts as a personal air purifier. I’ve already tried it out a couple of times, it does help. I’m still checking w/ TSA to make sure they’ll let me take it on the plane.

How I long for the simple days when I just hopped on the plane without thinking about it. I’ve worked on these plans for quite a while now. Will let you know later if it actually worked.

How to Really Freshen Your Air

Air fresheners act in one or more of the following ways:

  • The chemicals deaden your nerves and thereby kill your ability to smell
  • An oily film is released which coats your nasal passages
  • They mask one smell by emitting another smell
  • They break down the offensive odor (although this is rare)

Not much there that actually “freshens” the air now, is there? The EPA has done testing of the plug-in types and found that the chemicals they contain react with indoor air pollutants to produce even more toxic substances.

How then, can you really freshen the air in your home?

Here’s some healthy ideas:

  • Don’t allow any standing water to remain – such as in a bathtub. Mold & mildew contribute greatly to indoor odors
  • Keep things clean – often we use air fresheners to mask what we didn’t clean so well
  • Don’t allow them in in the first place
  • Identify and remove sources of bad odors
  • Use baking soda an borax to control odors in areas such as trash cans and to deodorize when you clean.
  • Open windows to let bad air out and fresh air in.
  • Consider an air purifier with an activated charcoal filter.

If I Could Live My Life Over

I love shower time because my mind is allowed to wander aimlessly. Occasionally, it comes up with good ideas.

I don’t usually like to even think about living my life over type questions. I think they’re pointless, and can often lead to negative thoughts. BUT, sometimes, it can be a good learning tool for yourself or others, so here goes:

If I had my life to live over, I think I would have avoided ALL fragrances. I was 16 when I had my first migraine. I was able to trace it to a single perfume and deduced that I was allergic to it. (Which wasn’t technically correct, the response is not an allergic reaction.) Other perfumes didn’t bother me. At first. Then, over time, more and more fragrances began to bother me. I eliminated all perfumes and colognes from my life. I found unscented hair products, deodorants, laundry products, etc.

I kept adding to the list. I used to make a huge batch of spaghetti sauce a few times a year. I’d start it early in the morning and let it simmer all day. The aromas filled the entire house. Then I’d freeze it in dinner-for-two size portions. It makes a pretty quick meal. But in late ’03, I wound up with a bad migraine from smelling the sauce all day. And trust me, everything in that sauce was natural.

It’s one thing to have to (try to) avoid fragrances. It’s another when you have to avoid natural smells such as cooking smells.

A common migraine theory is that the triggers for a migraine are additive. So that if I get enough in my system, I wind up with a migraine. My personal theory as to why I began having migraines all the time a few years back is that the is an accumulation within the body. Thus my system reacts more readily to things that never used to bother me. So, IF I could live my life over again, here is what I would do different:

  • I would avoid all perfumes and fragrances in the products I used.
  • I would try, as much as possible, to avoid places that purposely put fragrances in the air. (Especially those I could avoid – malls, Disneyworld (yup, they do!), certain stores.) This one would be hard since in today’s world you encounter them in grocery stores.
  • I would avoid all artificial sweeteners. I used to drink a lot of diet sodas. But now they all bother me. No matter what allegedly natural sweetener they use.
  • I would avoid all nitrates and nitrates – the preservatives that allow your ham, bacon and lunch meat to seemingly last forever. I had a friend years ago who would preach against these. At the time, I thought he was a bit “over the top” about it. Turns out, he was right – there’s nothing good about them.
  • I would never touch anything with MSG in it.
  • I would definitely not have started smoking.

Would all this help? Can’t say for sure. But perhaps it is worth a try. I have a good friend who has bad reactions (worse than mine) to one or two perfumes. I think she believes I’m a bit “over the top” with all my preaching against perfumes. Except that she hasn’t really put together the fact that, in the 7 years I’ve known her, I’ve watched her add more than one fragranced product to her list. Hmmm….

Do You Know What You're Breathing?