The 10 Best Travel Humidifiers
Travel Humidifiers: The Basics
The air you’re breathing on a trip can be significantly different than the air you normally breathe at home, especially if you’re traveling a great distance.
It’s often associated with excruciating heat, uncontrollable sweating, and the unpleasant feeling of stickiness that accompanies that combination.
Humidity gets a bad rap. It’s often associated with excruciating heat, uncontrollable sweating, and the unpleasant feeling of stickiness that accompanies that combination. If you conjure up that image upon hearing the word, you're certainly not alone. But in reality, the previously described uncomfortable situation is the result of excessive humidity; you may be surprised to learn that, when applied in moderation, humidity can be a very good thing.
This is where the humidifier comes in. Whereas the more substantial console humidifiers add moisture to an entire house or a very large room, right now we're only focused on personal humidifiers — small, portable units designed for an individual on the go. While the coverage area is undoubtedly limited compared to larger models, a quality travel humidifier should provide sufficient moisture for hotel rooms, offices, cubicles, nurseries, or the cabin of a vehicle.
Frequently, people don’t realize they need a travel humidifier until they’ve already reached a destination. The air you’re breathing on a trip can be significantly different than the air you normally breathe at home, especially if you’re traveling a great distance. If you’re not prepared for it, the cold, winter air in northern regions — and hot, dry air in desert regions, for that matter — can have a noticeable impact on your body and your health.
Stuffy noses, aching sinuses, and nose bleeds commonly occur in response to breathing air that lacks moisture. The same goes for external issues like itchy skin, dry eyes, and cracked lips. Since your body may not be used to this foreign air, you’re more susceptible to potential allergy flare-ups, as well.
The humidifier helps keep your nasal passages moist, relieving cold and allergy symptoms and preventing bloody noses. It soothes dry skin and helps speed up the healing process for any ailments you may be experiencing. Beyond that, it even protects components of the space in which it’s kept, such as wooden furniture and floors.
Experts recommend that you try to maintain a level of humidity between 30 and 50 percent in whatever space you occupy. You can use a tool called a hygrometer to measure humidity levels, and some more sophisticated humidifiers even come equipped with them. Either way, you should have one; if you or someone residing with you has allergies or asthma, it’s a good idea to test humidity daily while you’re traveling.
Finding Your Ideal Travel Companion
If you use a humidifier to maintain a healthy level of moisture in your home to help ensure you feel your best at all times, why wouldn’t you want to enjoy the same benefits when you’re away from the house? While the array of options is not as diverse as it is for standard humidifiers, it’s still a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different styles available.
Rapidly rotating disks power the air washer humidifier, which offers the added benefit of removing airborne toxins.
Steam vaporizers heat water, and then cool it back down before circulating it into the air. These units can cause burns, so keep that in mind if you’ll be using it around kids. An evaporator utilizes a fan to blow water droplets through a moistened filter. Rapidly rotating disks power the air washer humidifier, which offers the added benefit of removing airborne toxins.
Thanks to their versatility and quiet mode of operation, ultrasonic humidifiers are a popular style for travel units. Using ultrasonic vibrations, they’re able to silently produce a cool or warm mist consisting of ultra-fine droplets of water. These typically produce less sound, require less cleaning, and increase the humidity a bit more quickly than other types of portable humidifiers.
As you evaluate your options, it’s also important to focus on the space requirements, room dimensions, and the size of the unit. Small, lightweight units are convenient for their ease of transport, but you’ll have to refill them with water more frequently and their coverage won’t extend as far. If you plan on using your humidifier in a larger space and don’t plan on moving from place to place too often, a slightly bigger model is worth considering.
Ideally, the unit you go with will include an automatic shut-off feature that kicks in once it reaches its preset humidity level or runs out of water. Otherwise, you’ll have to make sure you remember to shut it off manually when it runs dry. In addition, a timer can be a helpful feature, as it will allow you to program the humidifier to switch on or off at a predetermined time of your choosing.
Proceed With Caution
Adding humidity to the air is quite useful, but you have to be careful — too much humidity can pose health risks, as well. Extra dampness in a room can lead to condensation on the floor and walls, which promotes the growth of mold, mildew, dust mites, and other harmful bacteria. Unclean humidifiers can have a similar effect; you have to wash them regularly to prevent bacteria growth. If possible, look for one with a dishwasher-safe water reservoir, which makes them easier to clean.
Since warm, moist air rises, it's also a good idea to place it as low as possible.
With some humidifiers, a white dust may accumulate on furniture in the room due to mineral deposits in the water. Sometimes a filter will help, but using distilled water is probably the most effective way to prevent this.
When using the unit, you should position it at least six inches away from an inside wall to ensure maximum coverage. Since warm, moist air rises, it's also a good idea to place it as low as possible. If you start to see condensation on the windows or dampness beginning to form on the area around the humidifier, move it to a different location or start using it a bit more infrequently.
When you’re done using the unit, it’s important to completely empty the tank and wipe it dry so that it doesn't becoming a breeding ground for unwelcome microorganisms. Throw away any filters you used while it was running, and remember to store it in a dry location.