8 Ways To Avoid Hidden Germs When Traveling


It’s a fact that we are more likely to become ill while traveling than in everyday life, but there are ways to avoid the worst of it, and knowing what to look out for could be the key to an enjoyable trip.

Hotel Rooms

Sure the sheets are clean, and hopefully the bathroom too. But what about high-hand-traffic areas such as the light switches, door handles, and remote controls? These oft-neglected surfaces could be harboring nasties that are out to ruin your trip.

Give everything a quick swipe with alcohol-based disinfecting wipes as soon as you arrive, and you’ll be able to relax and enjoy that sleep-in…

Airplane Seats

You’ve managed to avoid sitting next to the man with the hacking cough… but viruses can live on hard surfaces for much longer than you imagine, so it’s not just the passengers on the current flight you need to worry about.

Taking the time to wipe down plastic armrests, tray tables, and remote controls with sanitizer ensures you are ridding your area of any lingering germs. If you decide to sleep, try to keep something between your face and the seat.

Airplane Bathrooms

Airplane bathrooms might be tiny, but after a few hours in the air they are ground zero for bacteria and viruses—you need to be vigilant.

Always put your shoes back on before heading to the bathroom and use a seat protector if it’s available. Scrub your hands thoroughly with soap, drying them carefully when you are finished. Use a paper-towel to turn the door handle on the way out and use a squirt of hand sanitizer when you get back to your seat.


Handrails serve an important purpose for those with mobility issues, but in busy airports and hotels you might as well shake hands with a thousand strangers—who knows where those hands have been?

If you need to steady yourself, remember to wash your hands as soon as you can, or better yet, stash some hand sanitizer in your bag for instant reassurance.

Hotel Pools

The sun beating down on a hotel pool takes the chill off, but it also creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Chlorination doesn’t kill everything, and warm water can harbor giardia, pink eye, and all kinds of skin viruses—you need to take care.

Do your fellow bathers a favor and rinse off before you swim. When you are done, take a long soapy shower. And remember to keep your mouth closed!

Security Checkpoints

Most of us want to save time at security checkpoints, but if your slip-on shoe of choice is a flip-flop or sandal, it might be time to rethink your strategy. Thousands of travelers pass through security each day and chances are some of them have athlete’s foot or some other infection you’d rather avoid.

Even if you prefer to travel in summer footwear, keep some socks handy for the checkpoint. This way you’ll return from your trip with nothing but sand between your toes.

Touch Screens

Touch-screen technology certainly speeds things up, but swiping at the ATM or ticket kiosk brings you into contact with thousands of other fingertips, do you really want to take the risk?

Give the screen a swift clean with a sanitizing wipe, then use another to disinfect your hands when you have finished your transaction.


Buffets are a quick and affordable choice for travelers, but they can be a minefield—outbreaks of norovirus on cruise ships have been traced back to contaminated buffets, as have spates of salmonella, E. coli, and Shigella.

Wash your hands with soap and hot water, lathering for 20 seconds. Ideally, you should wash your hands before you get in the buffet line (you’re sharing serving implements with countless others), then again before you eat. Choose hot food and avoid anything uncovered—germs from coughs and sneezes travel an astonishingly long way.


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