How to find non-toxic Airbnb's | An in-depth description of our packing and preparation for trips

How to find non-toxic Airbnb's | An in-depth description of our packing and preparation for trips - OrganicDarlings

During Cole’s 4th year of Medical School we traveled all over South-East USA with our two dogs, Poncho and Pepper. Since we try to live a life free of toxins, traveling can be a struggle since so many elements are out of our hands. But, with a little preparation I got pretty good at avoiding complete catastrophes (like strong smelling candles being lit when we get there, or a really strong cleaner smell in the home).

Hopefully through this blog post I can help you ask your Airbnb host for a few favors before you travel to their place!

1. Ask the hosts to unplug air fresheners, blow out candles outside, and remove strong smelling cleaners

Listen, I know this is awkward. But if you’re anything like me the awkwardness is worth avoiding an evening of headaches. I’m really sensitive to smells, so it’s become clear to Cole and I that we’d rather just avoid the situation altogether. Here’s what I usually say to the host, once the Airbnb is booked and we’re 1-2 days out:

“Hey (name of host)! (Your companion’s name) and I are really looking forward to enjoying your lovely home this week. I’m hoping this is not an inconvenience, but I am really sensitive to scents, and I was wondering if you’d be able to make sure there are no candles lit, air fresheners running or any other fragrance based element when we get there? I tend to get bad headaches when those are present :(. Also, if you’re able to, could you have the cleaners be in a closet far away from the bedroom? If not, I can absolutely move them when we get there.

Again, we’re really looking forward to it! Thanks!

(Your Name)”

Although it’s a little unconventional, it has saved us many headaches. Remember, you’re paying for a home, not an endocrine disruption trip!

2. Bring an essential oil diffuser

How bougie right? We traveled to so many different spots and I realized the one thing that made me feel at home was being able to make it smell like home! After staying in a stinkier Airbnb in Puerto Rico last year, I really think it’s worth putting in the extra effort of bringing that with us now. I bring a cheap Amazon diffuser and 5 oils I enjoy everywhere we go now (lavender, orange, pine, lime, and eucalyptus are my go-to oils).

It’s also a nice way of setting up a routine when you’re not at home - who doesn’t enjoy lavender diffusing when you’re winding down after a busy day of interviews like Cole had?

3. Bring your own cleaners, soap, sponge, and laundry detergent

Again, so bougie. Sometimes I also amaze myself with how fancy I am ;). Here’s the thing, Cole and I have been to a few Airbnbs with VERY stinky dish soaps, nasty sponges, Tide Detergent (talk about endocrine disruption!!), and other things we haven’t used in years. If you’re flying, get small versions of the detergents, or consider using a 3-in-1 soap like Castile Soap for body soap, laundry detergent, dishes. If you’re driving and have a little space, you can always bring whatever you’re enjoying at home. In a pinch though, just go for the Castile Soap.

This will save you a trip to the store as well, since some Airbnbs do not have soap available.

4. If you’re able to, get the entire house, not just a room

We’re not always able to swing this, but when we can it’s our favorite way to travel, especially with two dogs. This way you can really control your environment better, turn off the WiFi at night, and just generally feel freer.

5. If you’re sensitive to EMFs…

Turn off the Wi-Fi at night! Of course if the WiFi is shared with the host you won’t be able to, but this is a great way of protecting yourself as you sleep. I’d ask where the box is and make sure you’re sleeping far away from it if you’re able, and I’d specifically keep babies away from the box. If you’re ultra sensitive, also check on these websites if there are Cellphone towers/5G towers around the property.

    It’s a bummer to have to think this way, but this is the price we pay for advancing technologically without enough long term studies. Now, I will say that our bodies are able to deal with a little bit of toxic energy, but you just want to avoid it long term. If Cole and I could only find a place nearish a cell phone tower for a few days, we’d probably take it (even though I’d be losing my mind and praying for peace, because anxiety is my default!). If we were staying somewhere longer than a few days, I’d avoid the properties with towers.

    6. Bring your own cookware

    If you’re able to, again. This is why I love driving places, and not flying. When we drive to an Airbnb, I always bring a cast iron pan and a stainless steel pot. I’ve found that the combo of those 2 types is really helpful in a pinch - you can make stews, cook eggs, boil water for coffee, etc. I sometimes even bring 2 plates, 2 forks, 2 knives… you get the idea. I always bring jars, but I’ll tell you why in 7.

    The reason for this is that Cole and I are only a few years from trying to get pregnant, and I know the effects of Teflon on our bodies and how difficult it is to detox those elements from our bodies (and expensive!). So, we avoid them. Not to mention that the ones in Airbnbs can be really scratched and therefore you’ll have more leeching of chemicals into your food.

    7. Bring your water filter

    This one can be hassle, especially if you have a Berkey. I’ll warn you, traveling with a Berkey is NOT easy. It can be a little stressful, take up space and you can potentially break the charcoal/fluoride filters. If you’re patient, remove the filters and wrap them up in a wet towel. If you’re like me, put the entire thing in your trunk and pray nothing happens (I broke them the last time we traveled… that’s a bummer mistake!). Having a filter while we travel has saved us money since we don’t feel the need to buy water bottles when the tap water isn’t super good. Also, before we leave we always fill 5-10 Ball Jars with filtered water for our trip, and for when we first get to the Airbnb and our Berkey Filter is slowly filtering. It’s also good for the dogs to have water on the trip (btw, buy an extra stainless steel bowl that you always have in the car, it’s so helpful!). Then, you’ll have jars all ready for your meals!

    8. Pack Glass Tupperware

    All I need when we travel is a few sizes: 1 large one for leftovers, a medium one for Cole’s lunch if he’s eating at work, and a few small ones for guacamole and other small elements. This really depends on your eating habits and family structure though. I just don’t want to put our wonderful hard earned money into getting containers last minute because I forgot the ones from our home, and don’t want to use plastic.

    9. Bring the basics for food!

    It really boils down to this point at the end of the day. I know how Cole and I feel when we eat badly, and I know I don’t want to buy anything full sized that isn’t up to our standards if I’m just going to throw it out when we’re back home. That’s why I bring our salt, pepper, spices, oil, coffee, some supplements, and a few apples for the road. This saves us so much money! You know how expensive spices can get, and no one wants to eat chicken with no seasoning whatsoever… but I’m not using the cheap stuff that’s in the cabinet :)

    10. If you can… bring your AirDoctorPro

    Okay now if you’re rolling your eyes, bare with me. I don’t want to live in fear, but I’m educated enough to know that lots of homes in the USA have mold, toxic products, bad air quality, etc. Bringing the AirDoctorPro has seriously saved our butts from some rough environments before. The good news is, it’s loud enough to help us sleep at night too! It’s spendy, but there are ways to get it half off. That’s how we got ours.

    Last but not least, remember that you can’t control everything, but you can be prepared enough not to be really disappointed when you get to your destination. I hope this is helpful! What have you struggled with when traveling?



    How EMFs mess up our Immune System:

    Pathophysiology Volume 16, Issues 2-3, August 2009, Pages 157-177

    Pathophysiology Volume 16, Issues 2-3, August 2009, Pages 157-177

    British Society for Immunology, Natural Killer Cells

    Pathophysiology Volume 16, Issues 2-3, August 2009, Pages 157-177

    [v] Electromagn Biol Med. 2019 Aug 26:1-18. Epub 2019 Aug 26. PMID: 31450976

    [vi] Electromagn Biol Med. 2019 Aug 26:1-18. Epub 2019 Aug 26. PMID: 31450976

    Why we avoid Plastic:

    Konieczna A, Rutkowska A, Rachoń D. Health risk of exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA). Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2015;66(1):5-11.

    Konieczna A, Rutkowska A, Rachoń D. Health risk of exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA). Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2015;66(1):5-11.

    da Silva BS, Pietrobon CB, Bertasso IM, et al. Short and long-term effects of bisphenol S (BPS) exposure during pregnancy and lactation on plasma lipids, hormones, and behavior in rats. Environ Pollut. 2019;250:312-322. doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2019.03.100

    and so many more articles

    Why we avoid Teflon

    and many other reasons

    Why we avoid air freshners/fragrances/conventional cleaning products

    EPA's Office of Research and Development. "Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) Study" (Volumes I through IV), 1985.

    EPA 1988, SEPA Project Summary: Indoor Air Quality in Public Buildings: Volume I, L S. Sheldon, R W. Handy, T. D. Hartwell, R. W. Whitmore, H. S. Zelon, and E. D. Pellizarri

    and many more

    Find more information on all of these issues on


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    Hi Emelie! I thoroughly enjoyed your article because you’re so much like me when I travel! I had some fun laughs. I’m trying to solve this problem by creating a company that offers Airbnb’s that have all these non-toxic amenities already included. Including the essential oil diffuser! I know how hard it is to lug everything around and to not want to stay anywhere because of the disgusting fragrance used which will leave me with a headache. I’m out in Houston, TX which is where I’ll be starting my short term rentals. Where are you currently located? Would you be open to connecting?

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