Summer road trips: How to breathe easy wherever you go!
The great American tradition of taking a road trip during the summer is still popular after the COVID-19 pandemic, although fuel and lodging prices may cause some to shorten their range or length of stay (skift.com). Of those staying at home instead of traveling, 33% were concerned about their own safety and the safety of others. At HypoAir, we want everyone to enjoy their summer, and with some precautions, a road trip can be part of it!
Make sure to pack the devices that keep you safe at home:
- TotalClean is an odorless cleaner made with iodine that is safe to clean any surface, as well as deodorize the air around it! Use it on door handles and hotel room sinks and fixtures,
- Germ Defender and Air Angel will clean the air and surfaces in your hotel room quickly and quietly. Simply plug them in when you arrive (Germ Defender works great in small spaces like the bathroom, and Air Angel in larger spaces like the bedroom), and return after dinner to a cleaner room. If you don’t have a car adapter for your Air Angel, make sure to order one so you can sanitize your car everyday while you drive!
- Disposable gloves are great to have “on hand” for high-touch areas like gas pumps. Although they are designed to be disposed of after use, if you are running low on them, a study has shown that applying hand sanitizer to the gloves does not reduce their effectiveness or increase puncturability.
- Hand sanitizer, of course! It’s helpful to have a pump bottle in the car so that you don’t have to fumble with a cap or handle the bottle with hands that may be contaminated. Hand-sanitizing wipes are great for your purse, baby bag or luggage. You can check out our post on hand sanitizers to find some that are non-toxic.
- Masks: Bring a good supply so that you won’t be stressed about losing or re-using a masks. See our post about face masks here.
- Snacks and drinks: you can minimize time spent to find the right snacks, eat healthier, and spend less in general by buying snacks in grocery stores before you go on your trip instead of in convenience stores along the way. (aarp.com)
- When checking your car’s fluids and systems, consider replacing the cabin air filter and vacuuming out the car so that you’ll have fresh air to breathe for all those hours on the road.
Stopping to eat at local restaurants is part of the fun of visiting a new area. You may opt to choose outdoor dining, which is generally safer than indoor because of the fresh air ventilation all around you, but if the restaurant doesn’t have an outdoor option, you can try a couple different strategies to avoid viruses and germs in the air:
- Request to be seated close to the door, which naturally provides ventilation as customers go in and out.
- Use a different kind of “mask”. Normally when masked customers are seated at a table, they unmask to eat and have conversation, which somewhat defeats the purpose of wearing a mask into the restaurant! Instead, you can try “nasal filters”. There are many types and most are very comfortable and undetectable, meaning you can easily wear them, be protected, wear lipstick, and let your smile say it all! It’s best to get a few pairs and practice wearing them at home and in public before you go on your trip, to be mindful of nose breathing over mouth breathing. The first nasal filters were invented in Thomas Carence from Kansas City, Missouri in 1901 as a solution to hay fever (news.crunchbase.com), and then, but since the pandemic the styles and sources have multiplied. The upside of wearing these filters is that they are generally more comfortable than masks, so you’re apt to wear them all day and protect yourself from other contaminants like pollen, dust and air pollution. Here are some styles you can try:
- O2 Nose Filters come in 4 different sizes and the webpage has helpful videos on why and how to wear them. 10 filter sets are $14.99.
- First Defense Nasal Screens use a safe adhesive to apply the screens, for those who are wary of sticking an object into their nostrils. A one-week supply (7 sets) is $9.98.
- Rhinix.com is mainly marketed towards seasonal allergy sufferers but can capture any allergen the size of pollen grains (about 15 microns). These filters were developed in 2011 by a Danish medical student and ship from Denmark. While driving through different sections of the country, you may encounter allergens your body does not like, therefore, these are great protection that are easy to wear all day long!
Even if it’s humid outside, indoor air conditioned environments can be very drying to your nose and lungs. This can cause you to be susceptible to allergens, viruses and bacteria. FEND Nasal Spray works in a different way than masks. It hydrates your nasal passages with a blend of water, calcium and sodium to enable your own respiratory system to keep producing the mucus that protects you. The makers of FEND recommend use at least every 6 hours by spraying it into the air and breathing the mist deeply through your nostrils.
Hotel rooms, as we mentioned, can be of particular concern during peak travel season and when you’re not sure how the hotel sanitizes. We gave a lot of advice in our post “Hypoallergenic Hotel Suites”; here are the highlights:
- You can find a Pure Room (that has been cleaned to specific requirements) here, or search for “allergy-free hotel (destination city)” for a variety of listings.
- If you want to find out how these rooms are cleaned, instead of calling a nationwide 1-800 booking line, try to call the local hotel directly and speak to someone who is head over housekeeping or knowledgable in their practices.
- Think about bringing your own towels, sheets or sleep sack, and staying in a hotel with laundry facilities.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a different room if you sense that yours was not cleaned well or has a musty odor (quite common in more humid areas).
Big cities and highways can be some of the worst areas for air pollution, and sometimes it’s necessary to drive through them. In our post about air quality inside your car, we’ve described the technique for allowing the least amount of that pollution into the cabin where you’re breathing.
- Consider signing up for a free trial or subscription at Breezometer.com in order to plan driving routes with better air quality.
- When encountering heavy pollution, it is best to close the windows, set the ventilation to “recirc” and set the fan on low. Also, using the air conditioning will lower indoor contaminants.
- The recirc setting should only be used for a short time, because the concentration of carbon dioxide from passengers’ breathing starts to become high.
If you’re “roughing it”--whether that means using an RV or tent– campfires are fun to make for cooking food or just marshmallows and s’mores. Building a fire outdoors will create fine and ultra-fine particulates, however, that you should avoid breathing in by staying upwind of the smoke. Here are some other tips from clevelandclinic.org for making a safer campfire time:
- Use only untreated wood, because burning treated wood can release toxic vapors.
- If possible, avoid using manufactured logs to start the fire; here are some tips to starting a campfire (#3 on list)
- Don’t use gasoline or lighter fluid to start or maintain a campfire; not only are they dangerous to those around the fire, they can release toxins into the air.
- Only burn on calm days (winds less than 20 miles per hour) and where there are not burn bans in effect because of forest fire danger.
Our country and roads offer some great getaways and we hope you will take advantage of them safely!
Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash