With all the horror stories out there about hotels filled with bed bugs, hot tubs teeming with germs and restaurant meals causing food-borne illnesses, what's a germaphobe who wants to go on holiday to do? If you're hyper-vigilant about germs, you may think it's impossible to take a trip and relax without worrying about catching an odd parasite or dealing with pests. While no plan works 100 percent of the time, there are things you can do to minimize your risks.
Minimize your risk by being proactive when it comes to choosing your hotel. Ask to be booked into an allergy-free room. These rooms have surfaces that are easier to clean and fewer places for germs and allergens to lurk. The best hotels will provide you with allergy-free bedding, special mattress covers and pillows. Wear flip-flops in the room, and not just in the bathroom. And always remove the bedspread as soon as you get into the room, and keep it in the closet until you leave.
Few things are as relaxing after a long day of playing tourist as a warm dip in a hot tub. For a germaphobe, this can be a chancy proposition, as warm water is the perfect breeding ground for many bacteria. According to a test by Texas A&M University, 95 percent of all tubs tested had some evidence of some type of bacterial presence.
Before getting into the water, check hot tub lids for mold, mildew or cracks. Bring hot tub test strips and use them every time, following the directions on the package. If the chemical counts are not right, bring it to the attention of a hotel manager, but avoid that hot tub.
On an Airplane
A small, closed-in space filled with people may signal an unhealthy environment, but airplane interiors are cleaner than you might think. The air filtration system constantly circulates the cabin air and removes most of the microbes present.
Prepare yourself for air travel by packing your carry-on bag with some extra items to keep you germ-free. Avoid the airplane bathroom unless absolutely necessary. If you have to use it, bring sanitizing wipes and use them on any surface you might touch. Wipe down the arms of your seat with sanitizing wipes. Avoid touching the in-flight magazine; instead, bring your own reading material. People lick their fingers while turning pages, and these germs survive a surprisingly long time. Bring your own bottled water, blanket and pillow to avoid touching items that Lord knows how many others have touched. And always wear socks when traveling. The floor of an airport can be filthy, and security still requires you remove your shoes before passing through to the gates.
Travel for a germaphobe can be problematic, but with the right amount of preparation, you can give yourself greater security.