What you can’t see can’t hurt you. At least, that’s how the saying goes. That age-old adage doesn’t sit well with germaphobes, though.
How to Travel Comfortably as a Germaphobe
A germaphobe has an extreme fear of germs and an obsession with cleanliness. This person will go the extra mile (and then some) to avoid nasty germs. Home is a safe place where they have more control over what they come into contact with.
Staying home isn’t always an option, though. Whether work-related, a much-needed vacation, or a trip home to see family, even germaphobes need to travel.
If you find yourself struggling with the idea of coming into contact with germs, especially in hotel rooms, there are things you can do to be more comfortable in your surroundings.
Hotel floors are disgusting. Why? A carpet is a giant sponge that soaks up anything it comes in contact with. No matter how thoroughly carpets are cleaned, they will never be completely germ-free. Let’s face it; hotel floors will never be as clean as your own floors. Your best bet is to pick up a pair of inexpensive slippers from a discount store before you leave. Wear them at the hotel and discard them after your stay!
2. Hand Sanitizer
Everyone knows it’s wise to have a bottle of good old hand sanitizer with you for instant access wherever you may be. This is especially true when you are traveling. I hate wanting to sit down and eat and not being near a washroom facility to wash my hands. Hand sanitizer is the next best choice.
3. Ice Tray/ Bag of Ice
Have you seen those ice machines at a hotel ever being cleaned? Me neither. Who knows what mold and unknown life forms dwell in the machine? Many older ice machines have various crevices water can seep into, making plenty of homes where mold can grow. The solution? Bring your own ice packs to freeze at the hotel, or buy a bag of ice at the nearest convenience store. It’s cheap, and even if you don’t use it all, you’ll know what you do use will be clean.
What does every sick person reach for when they have the sniffles? The tissue box. In my lifetime, I’ve never seen or heard of anyone ever cleaning the tissue box. Most places display a cardboard tissue box, but who sanitizes those? No one. A germaphobe may find comfort in bringing their tissues if you think you’re going to need them. After all, you can never be too careful, right?
5. Disinfectant Wipes
Probably the handiest, and my personal favorite, is a package of good old disinfectant wipes. You can wipe down almost anything with these gems. I frequently wipe handles, surfaces, TV remotes, and anything else I think needs it. If you’re flying, you’ll most certainly want to wipe down the tray table and armrests with disinfectant wipes. Being in control of any surface you must touch can bring peace of mind while traveling.
6. Disinfectant Spray
Can you guess what happened on that hotel bed before your visit? Unmentionable things. Things we won’t talk about, but it’s a safe bet there were germs involved. At a good hotel, the bedspread may be clean between visits, but often it’s not. Bring some disinfectant spray and you’ll rest a lot easier knowing you’ve killed a few germs before going to bed.
7. Bed Sheets
Can you be certain that your bed sheets are clean? How many guests have pulled back the covers to see stained sheets, hair, or worse, bed bugs? Granted, most hotels make sure the sheets get changed, but there are sometimes lapses in care, especially with so many short-staffed establishments. You don’t have to let this be the fear that keeps you from traveling. Bring your own set of linens and know without a doubt you’re sleeping between clean sheets.
What is the one thing that everyone for certain uses in a hotel room? The pillows! Germaphobes who may not have enough space to pack their own pillows will find comfort in bringing their own pillowcases. This way, you can be confident you’re the only one who has touched it. It’s like bringing a bit of home comfort with you while you are away.
9. Hand Towels
If you’re a true germaphobe, you likely wash your hands quite often. Hotel staff are supposed to clean all the towels in the bathroom, but do they? Of course, they clean the soiled towels on the floor, but what if a guest used a towel and then folded it back up? Bring your own towel if that concerns you. Make it even easier by bringing a roll of paper towels to dry your hands on.
10. Garbage Bags
Garbage bins in hotel rooms are small. Most travelers produce more trash during their stay than can fit in the small bins provided. What happens when people can’t fill all the garbage in the designated trash bin? They set their waste onto the tables and other surfaces. Gross. Plan ahead with at least some plastic shopping bags to keep your trash contained.
Ready for a horror movie free with admission to your hotel room? Just bring a blacklight and shine it around. Regular folk take for granted things they can’t see. On the other hand, germaphobes think of every possible germ lurking, waiting to be discovered in plain sight. What will a black light reveal in your hotel room? Whatever it is, you’ll have your disinfectant spray to take care of it and put your mind at ease.
12. Hair Dryer
Some might call a hair dryer the most convenient courtesy item a hotel provides, but have you ever seen anyone clean a hair dryer? It’s most likely teeming with bacteria from being so close to damp hair, not to mention the handle so many people have touched. And do we even need to mention it lives in the bathroom, which is gross from the get-go?
13. Flip Flops or Shower Shoes.
No matter how often or how vigorously the staff cleans your shower and bathroom floor, there will always be some kind of germ residing in the crevices. Hotel showers may never be as bad as pool showers, but they still are worrisome. Bringing a cheap pair of flip-flops can be a lifesaver.
14. Comfy Walking Shoes
Don’t discount the variety of unpleasant bacteria-ridden interactions outside your hotel room, such as a hotel elevator. If you’re a germaphobe who doesn’t like crowded spaces, you may want to avoid the elevator and all the nasty buttons that must be pushed and take the stairs instead. Not only will you get some exercise, but you’ll also avoid a lot of potential germs.
15. Universal Remote
Let’s mark this item as one we don’t want to know where it’s been. Ever. The floor, the bathroom, mouths, in grimy little hands — a germaphobe’s list goes on and on. If you want to watch TV but don’t want to touch the remote, you can bring your own universal remote and never have to worry about handling the nasty one in the hotel.
16. Shampoo, Conditioner, and Body Wash
A hotel can provide these items in two ways: individual bottles left in the room or large containers bolted to the shower wall. The first is fine, as long the bottles are new. The second one is a shared bottle that previous guests have had access to. How can you know for sure someone hasn’t played a prank and added something disgusting for unsuspecting guests to find? You don’t, and there’s no need to find out if you bring your own.
Traveling can be scary for anyone, especially germaphobes, but utilizing these tools can make your trip much more comfortable.
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