• Monday, March 04, 2024
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Staying healthy while on trips


While it is necessary for all travelers to familiarise themselves with conditions at their destinations that could affect their health, it is also very important for would-be hotel guests to be conscious of safety and health measures that would ensure a healthy stay.

In addition to climate, a hotel guest’s choice of accommodations also contributes to associated health risks.  A business trip to a city, where the visit is spent in a hotel and/or conference center of high standard, or a tourist trip to a well-organised resort involves fewer risks than a visit to a remote rural area, whether for work or pleasure.

Behavior within the area, however, also plays an important role in health risks. Camping and going outdoors in the evenings in a malaria-endemic area without taking precautions, for instance, may result in infection. Exposure to insects, rodents, or other animals, as well as, infectious agents and contaminated food and water, combined with the absence of medical facilities, all play a role in increased health risk and makes travel in many remote regions particularly hazardous.

Even seemingly high-standard accommodations, however, come with some health risks. Recently, news broadcasts on hotel room sanitation have brought some seemingly hidden health hazards to light. How bed linens, drinking glasses, and even the remote control are handled and sanitized are important for your health. Because there is no way for you to know how items have been handled, it is important to take health precautions.

Here are some hotel-room tips that may help keep you germ-free:

Remove hotel bedspread, which is often the most germ-laden item in the room. Bedspreads are not routinely washed, so you should take them off the beds and stash them in the corner. You can call the hotel reception for a change of bedspread everyday if you notice the housekeeper just made your bed without changing the bedspread. It is allowed.  If you are cold, ask for another blanket. The good news is that some hotels have started to use duvet covers or comforters that can be washed between visitors, so if your bed has one of these, you do not have to remove it.

Examine furniture, linens, and carpeting for rust-colored stains-this can be a sign that bedbugs are present.

Travel with sanitizing wipes. Cold viruses and other germs can live on hard surfaces for more than four days. “This means if the person who stayed in the room before you had a cold, there is a chance you will get sick, too.”  Wipe down items that people touch a lot, such as the phones, light switches, door knobs, ice buckets, toilet handles, hotel room pens, menus, phone books, and remote controls.        You may also want to give a quick wipe down to the shower floor and sink faucets. Never use the whirlpool function in a hotel. “The pipes of the whirlpool, rather than the tub itself, are where the germs hide. At home, you would regularly flush these pipes with bleach, but that is simply not happening in hotels.”

Wear flip flops or other rubber sandals in hotel showers to avoid any chance of contracting athlete’s foot. Wear socks, slippers, or other footwear around a hotel room to avoid germs from carpets, rugs and tiles. Do not use the hotel drinking glasses in your room-even if they are covered with a paper lid. Occasionally, these glasses are wiped with the same cloth that was used to clean the rest of the bathroom. Tuck in a few paper cups, your own beverages, or choose drinks from a vending machine or the room service menu.

Wash your hands.  Germs are mainly transmitted by touching germ-infected items/ areas and then transferring them through the mucous membranes such as eyes, nose, and mouth. Use soap and warm water, and wash for as long as it takes to sing the ABCs. Dry your hands on a clean, disposable towel if available. If these are unavailable, use a hand-sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol to kill germs, and do not share a hand towel with anyone who shows signs of illness.

According to a report done by ABC News, “while cleaners may dust, vacuum and disinfect daily, most hotels say they do deep cleaning only four times a year, on average- unless stains are visible.” Still, there is no need to panic or over-stress about hotel cleanliness. Everywhere you go – the office, the mall, at school – you are going to encounter germs.  Do not assume hotel rooms and other public accommodations are cleaner than they really are. Take precautions from the beginning, using the tips given here, and always keep your hands washed when traveling for the best chance at avoiding illness during your travels.

However, there are some post-travel measures to take. Traveler’s should be advised to see their health care provider for an examination after their travels if they: suffer from a chronic disease, have spent more than three months on the trip, experience illness in the weeks following their return home or believe they have been exposed to a serious infectious disease while traveling.

If you get sick, be sure to tell your doctor when and where you traveled.  By doing these things, you can travel with the least risk to your health.

Obinna Emelike  with Agency Report