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Watch Out For Germs! 9 Nastiest Places To Avoid When Travelling, According To Industry Insiders

Travelling is the perfect excuse to be spontaneous– go off the beaten path, sample local food, and meet fun strangers in a gastropub. Your vacation, your rules. But just because you need to be carefree doesn’t mean it’s okay to ignore the bad stuff you encounter when you travel – like germs. 

Have you ever experienced getting sick during one of your travels? Those sly, microscopic foes you may have contracted are the culprit. We’re not only referring to nasty public bathrooms or poorly washed utensils of a local eatery – there are other seemingly clean places you don’t know are packed with germs. 

We’re more careful than ever, all thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic that turned most of us into germaphobes. But instead of spraying disinfectants all over your hotel in Dublin (or worse, avoiding travel in general due to paranoia), it might be wiser to simply exert efforts into sanitising the following germy items: 

1. Aeroplane & Ferry Bathrooms

A 2018 study confirmed that flushing the toilet can contaminate other nearby surfaces. Since aeroplane and ferry lavatories are small and cramped, it’s easy to spray bacteria onto almost every surface, including the sink. 

The next time you’re using their bathroom, wash your hands, use a paper towel to open the door and rub hand sanitiser the moment you get back to your seat. 

2. Aeroplane Seat Pockets 

Don’t put anything in those pockets. Cabin crew members have seen passengers using the seat pockets as a public trash can, shoving used napkins, dirty diapers, banana peels, and other general trash. Those pockets are also rarely deep-cleaned between flights. 

3. Aeroplane Tray Tables

Before putting your food or phone on the aeroplane tray table, make sure to give it a good wipe down with sanitising wipes. Sorry to tell you this but those tray tables have been used as diaper-changing stations, dirty tissue depositories, and vomit bag holders. And with quick flight turnovers, don’t expect these tables to get deeply sanitised. 

4. Hotel Remotes

Can you think of a hotel item that’s used by hundreds of hands but never cleaned? The remote controllers.

In fact, a team of researchers from the University of Houston, Purdue University, and the University of South Carolina tested a variety of spots in hotel rooms. The study concluded that the TV remote indeed contained high levels of bacterial contamination.

The next time you have to use a remote, bring ziplock bags to cover them. You can also download a remote mobile app and use your smartphone to control the TV and even the A/C unit. 

5. Hotel light switches

What’s that one thing every hotel guest touches but no one ever cleans? It’s the light switch. It’s a breeding ground for germs. According to the University of Houston’s research team (the same folks behind the hotel remote findings), the main light switch was the dirtiest surface in hotel rooms, often containing high levels of fecal bacteria.

6. Hotel drinking glasses 

A tip from hotel insiders: don’t drink from the glasses and mugs found in your hotel room without washing them first – especially the ones in your bathroom. They aren’t regularly replaced and washed. It’s a good thing more hotels are placing disposable cups for their guests’ convenience.

7. Touch screen ticket kiosks

Self-serve kiosks for checking in, printing boarding passes, and even ordering from a fast food joint are covered in germs. It’s crucial to use sanitiser or rubbing alcohol after using them.

8. Transportation handrails 

From subway trains to cruise ships, handrails are notorious for being germ incubators and it’s not hard to see why. They are touched by thousands of passengers every day. If you must touch them to keep your balance, wipe them off or wash or sanitize your hands afterwards.

9. Public water fountain

Believe it or not, there’s a chance that the water from drinking fountains has more bacteria than the water in your toilet. Several studies have shown that public fountains are breeding grounds for germs. You’re better off buying a bottle of purified water. 

Protect yourself and your loved ones! 

Times have changed. We’re sure that travel companies have changed their ways and amped up their sanitation procedures since the pandemic took place. But that doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. 

It’s a no-brainer to bring tons of hand sanitisers, disinfectants, and anti-bacterial wipes to stay clean and safe.  The rule of thumb is: if you’ve touched something that’s not yours, especially if it’s a public item, you sanitise your hands right after. Don’t touch your face with unclean hands!

Another tip is to be wiser when picking travel companies. Go through the website of the hotel, airline, tourist attraction. or restaurant to see their disinfection measures. If you see a hotel with strict protocols in terms of round-the-clock disinfection, contactless transactions, physical distancing, and such, you can relax that you’re going to have a safe trip. 

Happy new year! 

Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a travel and lifestyle writer. Aside from taking vibrant street photos, you can find her writing articles about travel, food, and lifestyle. To know more about hotels and travel blogs, you may visit Ashling Hotel Dublin.


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