Be healthy while traveling

Be healthy while traveling

Mom was right when she said, “Wash your hands.” When you’re traveling, heed her advice.

According a study by the Journal of Environmental Health Research quoted by SmarterTravel,® passengers are more than 100 times more likely to get sick on an airplane. Here are some tips to stay healthy.

Don’t let air travel get under your skin. The last souvenir that you want to take home you’re your vacation is athlete’s foot. The first place you need to protect your feet is in the airport security line. Since every pair of shoes must be x-rayed you know that you will be walking where other people with athlete’s foot may have walked.

To prevent the fungus from growing on your feet, wear an old pair of socks through security and then throw them away. Take a clean pair of socks from you luggage and put them on before you complete your trip.

Wipe it before you touch it. Take along disinfecting wipes and wipe places people touched before you – door knobs, faucets, tray tables, head and arm rests – it’s only as clean as the personal hygiene of the person before you.

It’s sobering, when you consider that 60 percent of people DO NOT wash their hands after using the bathroom. (Suddenly, communal snacks seem less appetizing, don’t they?)

Wash your hands. However, don’t use the water on the airplane. Studies show that it may be contaminated from storage in the on-board tanks; use wipes or hand sanitizer instead.

Don’t use the seat pocket in front of you. Chances are good that it’s been used for tissues, napkins and dirty diapers.

Use your air vent. Mark Gendreau, travel expert, senior staff physician and vice chair of emergency medicine at Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass, suggests that you open your air vent and direct the air flow to just in front of your face. This will dissipate the germs and will allow you to breathe air that has been mixed with outside air and re-circulated through the airplane’s filters.

Protect your health after you get off the plane, too. Many travelers eventually arrive at a hotel to rest and revive after a long day of travel. But a hotel is not a place to rest from your efforts to stay healthy.

Wipe it before you touch it. You heard that before, but it bears repeating, especially in hotel rooms. Many times light switches, door knobs, lamps, the telephone, clocks, radios, heating and air conditioning controls, toilet handles, faucets and remote controls are not routinely cleaned. Since they are only as clean as the personal hygiene of the person who stayed there before you, it might be a good idea to give common surfaces a wipe down. Remember some viruses can live for over a day on surfaces. The worst of these offenders may reside on the underside of the toilet seat.

BYOW – Bring your own water. Sometimes glasses found in motel rooms are permanent fixtures there; they’ve never seen the inside of a dishwasher. Undercover studies from many news services showed that sometimes the glasses were rinsed or cleaned with bathroom-type cleaners. If you want to be sure that you are drinking water from a clean container, bring your own. If you must drink out of a hotel glass, make sure it is a disposable cup sealed in plastic. Another reason to bring water along is to avoid any possible contaminants in the hotel water.

And speaking of water, do you imagine that romantic get-a-way with the whirlpool suite? You may want to think twice. The pipes of a whirlpool are rarely cleaned and often harbor bacteria that may cause urinary tract and other infections.

A word about ice buckets and coffee makers … if you use them, wash them first in hot soapy water. In illness emergencies these containers may have been used in lieu of the ice cream bucket if someone was nauseous.

Sleep tight, and don’t let the bedbugs bite – quite literally. No longer found just in seedy motels, bed bug infestation is on the rise – even in the finest hotels. You can avoid this inconvenience by stripping the bedding off the bed and looking for evidence: red, brown or black stains that look like pepper flakes, translucent eggs, and shed skins all indicate that the bugs were there.

Also look around the bed, behind wall hangings, on the floor near the dresser and night stands … anywhere there are nooks, crannies, ruffles or folds.

Avoid taking stowaways home. Keep your clothes, toiletries and other items in sealed plastic bags. Store your luggage on the luggage rack or in the bathroom where there is less of a chance of infestation.

When you arrive back home, wash all your clothing – even the clothing that you did not wear. Dry on high heat for at least 30 minutes to kill any would-be stowaways.

Don’t go barefoot when you get to the hotel. The hotel carpet and bathroom can harbor the fungus. If you are walking stocking footed in your room, always change your socks before you put your shoes on.

Remember that hot tubs, saunas and bathrooms can also harbor the fungus. Make sure that you protect your feet by putting a barrier between your skin and the floor.

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