One thing that many people fear when they are traveling, especially to exotic locales, is that they might get sick. I have written several blogs with tips on how to stay healthy while traveling, as well as things that everyone should bring with them in their travel bag, but in this blog I am going to focus on bacteria, cleanliness, and some things that people often overlook. When I am leading tours, my guests always ask me if they can drink the water, if they can use it to brush their teeth, if they can eat vegetables that have been washed in, etc. People seem pretty concerned about the germs they can pick up from water or from food, but there are a lot of other things that they forget. Here are five basics.
1. When in doubt, do not drink the water. Bottled water is relatively inexpensive, and it makes so much more sense to go to a local convenience store, and buy bottled water to have in your hotel room than to drink from the tap.
2. Likewise, use bottled water for brushing your teeth, because it only takes a splash of water to rinse out your mouth, and it may be best to simply not take the chance.
3. Wash your hands whenever there is an opportunity, but especially every time before you consume a meal. Also, make sure you wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before consuming things on the road, like chips or candy. However, most people do not wash their hands for long enough. Most doctors would agree that to remove germs from your hands, you need to wash them for about 20 seconds. This is the equivalent of singing the happy birthday song twice.
4. Always carry hand sanitizer with you. There are many hand sanitizers to choose from, but it has been proven that hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol are much, much, more effective than the sanitizers without alcohol.
5. This last one may just be the hardest to do, and it is the most difficult to write in any sort of politically correct way, so let me break it down logically. Human beings carry all kinds of germs. The more bodily fluids that you share with more people is going to put you at greater risk for catching a cold, as well as other things. Something I have noticed after traveling all over the world with many travelers, is that it is often my “kissing bandit” travelers who will be complaining of sore throats during the trip. My recommendation? In addition to being safe, pay attention to whether your vacation romance(s) is coughing or complaining of a cold. If so, you may want to weigh if this hookup is worth it. Oh, and no judgement, because sometimes it is. I will tell you right now that if Joe Manganiello approached me, coughing and sneezing but wanting to make out, I’d grab a packet of “Emergen-C” or “Airborne” and have at it!