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How Serious Travelers Stay Healthy

Updated on March 12, 2015
Health clinics in other countries may be very different from what you're used to at home.  This is a hospital bed in Mali.
Health clinics in other countries may be very different from what you're used to at home. This is a hospital bed in Mali. | Source

How to Stay Healthy - Avoid Bathroom Germs

Touching surfaces with germs can make you ill. These germs go directly into your mouth, unless hands are washed prior to eating. Wash hands after any bathroom use, even if it is just to get a tissue from the counter. The reason this is important is that some people don’t wash up so that means they do their potty business, wipe and walk out – touching the stall, touching the walls, touching the counters and grabbing the doorknob on the way out. These same dirty folks think nothing of walking to the restaurant buffet bar and grabbing food for their supper. So, after washing hands, grab a paper towel to open the bathroom door, if the door is not a push out. If there isn't a paper towel to grab, as so sadly commercial locations are moving away from paper towels, grab a sanitary cover for the toilet seat and use that or, if nothing else exists, grab toilet paper. Public bathrooms are mandatory for the traveler to use but that doesn't mean one has to be infected by people with poor sanitation habits. In the restaurant, if one uses the buffet bar, after putting the food on a plate, it's wise to take a quick minute to use antibacterial lotion because the same serving utensils used to put food on the plate may have just been used by the nasty person who didn't wash up after a bathroom break!

Stay Healthy - Avoid Germs on Hotel Coverlets

In hotels, coverlets are not usually laundered when the sheets are. There are serious germs on that thing since they may only get a washing once or twice a year! The first thing I do when I enter a hotel room is rip off the coverlet and toss it into a corner, never to be touched again during my visit and then I vigorously wash my hands. In hotels, children have bedwetting accidents on the coverlets that don’t get washed. Some people actually think it’s okay to change the baby straight on the coverlet or the floor without a changing pad or towel under the child. If any defecation ends up on it and you touch the coverlet or the same spot on the floor, you have basically just touched poop germs! I’m not interested in catching a gastrointestinal infection. Are you?

Tips on Staying Healthy - Doctorly Advice

Germs in Hotel Carpets and Hotel Glasses

The second thing to know is that the carpet in a hotel room is frighteningly filthy (that’s why it’s a dark color) and also may not be cleaned except but once a year, if that. So, keep your shoes on or switch to flip flops because you can get a foot fungus just from walking on those nasty carpets. If any food falls on the floor, consider it a gonner and toss it out. Some adults, while highly intoxicated, urinate on the floor instead of in the toilet. A dirty little secret you might not know is that maids often do not wash the glasses or cups in a hotel room! They just rinse them out and put them back. That’s because maids are rushed for time and it’s faster for them to rinse and replace instead of actually washing something out correctly with soap and water. That means, you are drinking out of the same glass someone else used. That’s a good way to catch saliva born contagions, such as Hepatitis.

Airplane Blankets and Pillows - Germ Factories

The blankets on airplanes are not washed nor are the little pillows they hand out. Seasoned travelers never use those blankets but rather layer their clothing to keep warm and some bring their own travel pillow (some are inflatable travel pillows). The seats are not steam cleaned yet you are sleeping on them! So, make an effort to keep your face off the seat.

Safe water may require travel. Residents travel near Savelugu, Northern Ghana.
Safe water may require travel. Residents travel near Savelugu, Northern Ghana. | Source

You May Get On That Plane To Get There But Getting Back Whilst Sick May Not Prove So Easy

Health checkpoints exist before boarding for certain destinations or after departing planes in certain countries.
Health checkpoints exist before boarding for certain destinations or after departing planes in certain countries. | Source

List of Health Travel Tips

  • Are you up to date on immunizations/injections? Some shots require advance preparation, as they require a series of injections.
  • If you decide to partake in casual intimacy, use protection.
  • Know if the water is safe to drink or just buy bottled water.
  • Use mosquito repellent and netting while sleeping to avoid mosquito-borne illness.
  • Avoid sunburn by using adequate sunblock.
  • In areas of the world with little toilet paper, carry your own.
  • Carry antacid tablets, like Tums, in case the food doesn't agree with your stomach.

With a few precautions, staying healthy while traveling doesn't have to be a challenge and, best of all, you'll have the vigor and energy to have a fabulous time on your vacation.

Main Sources of Infection or Illness While Traveling

The main sources of illness besides contagious germs are the sun and the water. Another major source of sickness is when travelers eat poorly prepared food. For that reason, protect your skin with sunblock and a hat, drink from a safe water source, avoid hotel tap water, and do not buy meals on the street. You can take medication before departing on your trip to avoid gastrointestinal problems (ask your doctor) and you can take some antacid tablets with you, just in case you don't feel well after a meal.

Have You Ever Used A Bathroom With No Sink, No Soap, and/or No Paper?

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    • Li Galo profile imageAUTHOR

      Li Galo 

      8 years ago from Mainly the USA but Sometimes Abroad

      Yes, Miss Mimi, I agree with you about diet. It's always an option to choose good food no matter where we are in the world and bringing vitamins with you is a great idea! Thanks Miss Mimi.

    • Miss Mimi profile image

      Miss Mimi 

      8 years ago from On the road again

      Nice advice. When I first started traveling for work, I didn't think to carry toilet paper. I learned my lesson during my first hour in Macedonia and now never go on a long-term trip without some sort of tissue and hand sanitizer. You didn't mention diet in your list. For me, one of the things that has helped me stay healthy traveling is being in charge of my own diet, even when traveling in a group. If I don't get enough vitamin C, I'm way more likely to get sick! Choosing to eat what you'd like to eat, I find, is easier than most inexperienced travelers think it is and is important to remember. Thanks for posting this, voted up and interesting!

    • Li Galo profile imageAUTHOR

      Li Galo 

      8 years ago from Mainly the USA but Sometimes Abroad

      Thanks, CZCZCZ!

    • CZCZCZ profile image


      8 years ago from Oregon

      Great tips for staying healthy while travelling. I have taken my share of malaria pills and other precautionary drugs / shots when travelling to certain parts of the world. No reason to have a life changing sickness occur on a time that is supposed to be fun.


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