Your suitcase is bulging with suntan lotion, travel brochures and sandals as you head to the Atlanta airport. Before jetting off for a tropical summer vacation, do you know what awaits you at your destination hotel? Germs. Lots of them. If you're a germophobe, you'll want to do a little cleaning before plopping down on the hotel room bed for a little rest and TV surfing. Here's five safety tips to add to the travel itinerary.
So, what's the big deal?
According to a report in Time magazine highlighting a hotel cleanliness study in Houston, the dirtiest spots in a hotel room are the light switches and television remote control. Germs known to cause strep and staph (including fecal matter) were the top germs found. Other unsanitary areas topping the list include the bathroom sink and bathroom floor.
1. Spray the remote. Pack a small bottle of hand sanitizer with a spray nozzle. Give the television remote control a healthy spray and let it kill the germs. Don't forget to also spray the backside of the remote and the power button on the TV set itself. Or, if you're traveling in winter, keep your gloves on to operate the TV remote!
2. Use your elbow. When you enter your hotel room initially, use an elbow to flip on light switches. This is best when you're wearing a long-sleeved shirt or jacket. Later, use the hand sanitizer to spray the switch plate and light switch while the switch is in the "off" position.
3. Find the mat. Look in the bathroom and lay the bath mat on the floor. You don't want your unprotected feet touching the germy floor when you get into the shower--or out. Better yet, use a moist sanitizing towelette or antibacterial baby wipe to do a quick hand-mopping of the bathroom floor when you have time. Or, wear rubber sandals in and out of the shower.
4. Wash the sink. If there's antibacterial soap available, give the sink a quick scrub and rinse. Don't forget to wash the faucet handles too. While you're in the bathroom, wipe down the toilet flushing handle and seat as an extra precaution. When in doubt, pack portable toilet seat covers to keep your skin from resting on the germy surface.
5. Remove the bed comforter. While your sheets may be changed daily, the bed comforter is not. If the maid misses a change, you might just be snuggling into the last guest's germs. Turn up the room heater and use only the sheets on the bed to stay warm. Do you travel with your own beach towel? It can double as a light-weight blanket.
If you're not feeling well after your trip, head to an Atlanta doctor's office for a complete evaluation. Explain where you traveled, what types of food you ate, the safety tips you used while traveling and any changes to your usual routine. You may have brought home more than jet lag!