The Newest Guidance to Stay Safe As You Return to Travel

by Shelli

Let’s face it, germs are everywhere. If you weren’t a germaphobe before coronavirus, I’m guessing at the very least you are more concerned about germs, sanitizing, and disinfecting more now than ever. Even though travel isn’t nearly at the levels it was before coronavirus, many are starting to travel more and certainly beginning to plan future trips. It’s essential to reduce your risk of getting sick by knowing how to sanitize airplane seats, hotel rooms, and even luggage. Do you know the best hygiene tips and what should be in your vacation hygiene toolkit? Let’s take a closer look and make sure you’re not missing out on staying safe while traveling.

Travel Sanitizing Products For Your Vacation Hygiene Kit

I’ve had the experience of visiting someplace, forgetting to take hand sanitizer with me, and then not being able to find any because I really dislike the scented sanitizers. Problem solved by always making sure I put together a cleaning kit of a few essential items BEFORE I leave on a trip.

There really are only a few items to include, so it’s not as big a deal as it may seem to assemble these ahead of time.

Disinfectant Wipes

These types of wipes are made up of active ingredients that destroy bacteria, fungus, and mold. Unlike baby wipes or face wipes that have a high water or soap content, these are specifically designed to sanitize hard surfaces.

Containing active ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl alcohol, or ethanol, these wipes break down the components of viruses and bacteria. They claim close to 100 percent effectiveness. These wipes also contain growth inhibitors that keep bugs, germs, and viruses from multiplying and growing.

You can buy these types of wipes in small, purse-size packs that contain between 12 to 20 individual wipes, or larger packs or tubs that will contain many more. Wipes like the travel-size wet wipes below come in individual packets that can be tucked away in your luggage or carry-on items.

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer can be applied to your hands without the use of water, dries in seconds, and leaves your hands clean. It’s useful when you cannot get easy access to soap and water. This is a MUST addition to your disinfecting kit. Fragrances and other ingredients are often added to make them smell nicer. As mentioned, I prefer my hand sanitizer without fragrance so it may take a few tries with different brands to find one that suits you.

Available in liquid, gel, or sometimes even foam form, they are specifically designed to decrease the number of nasty infectious agents that are sitting on your hands, but they cannot remove harmful chemicals.

Different brands of antibacterial gel contain different active ingredients, with varying levels of effectiveness. Most will typically contain a combination of isopropyl alcohol, ethanol (ethyl alcohol), or n-propanol, with versions containing 60% to 95% alcohol being the most effective.

Of course, bigger containers of hand sanitizer are more cost effective, though complicated to travel with. I purchase a bigger bottle and then pour the gel into my regular 3.4 ounces travel containers. I stash a few of these in my backpacks and luggage.

Here’s the brand I recommend that is unscented and fragrance free.

Disinfectant Spray

You likely have disinfectant sprays that you use around your home because they clean surfaces killing nasty pathogens. It is well known that some viruses can survive on inert surfaces for days at a time, meaning that they can have a direct effect on the way that viruses are spread.

Areas that are heavily used can be breeding ground for germs to spread.

You should pay close attention to door handles, work surfaces, tables, toilets, and other high use areas. Most commercially available disinfectant sprays contain the active ingredient hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is effective on hard surfaces against a wide variety of microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses.

Always make sure you read the instructions on the product. For effectiveness, most sprays need to be left on the surface for a short time before being wiped away. When traveling, choose a product like Protex disinfectant spray. It comes in a compact bottle that fits in suitcases and travel bags.

Microfiber Cloths

Microfiber cloths have so many great uses! Why? Microfiber cloths can lift and hold dirt and bacteria with just the use of a drop of water. True, they do not completely clean public, high-use areas. However, they are a useful tool for cleaning up anything lurking on the surface you are about to start cleaning.

They pack a wallop because they are washable and reusable, so better for the environment. A pack of high-quality microfiber cloths can remove as much as 99 percent of bacteria on surfaces. For travel purposes, couple your clean microfiber cloths with disinfectant spray to keep the hard surfaces around you clean and safe.

Portable UVC Light

Did you know that your cell phone, tablet, and other devices are hosting a small army of germs? Due to constant use these tech items are home base for germs. Solution? Stop using them 🙂 Only kidding, of course. Better solution is to grab a travel wand UVC sanitizer to help keep your can’t-live-without tech clean.

UVC light interferes with and destroys the nucleic acids of bacteria and other microbes. While these are only useful for your devices’ surface area, holding them underneath the light for a few minutes can help keep them clean without having to get them wet. You might want to invest in one of these gadgets to use at home and away.

Now that your travel hygiene kit is filed with goodies, let’s go from the what to use to HOW to best use these tools.

Pro Tip: Be sure to get the best deals on hotels. If I’m paying cash for a hotel stay, I always use Pruvo to monitor for price drops!

How to Sanitize Your Airplane Seat

When sanitizing airplane seats, your first line of defense is taking notice of your seat and the surrounding area. Even if it strikes you as being clean, you don’t really know, do you?

Keep Your Sanitizing Wipes Handy

Sanitizing wipes are your go-to item for staying clear of germs and viruses while on a plane. Sanitizing airplane seats doesn’t take long. While airlines do clean and sanitize airplane seats in between flights, assume that seats are not cleaned to a standard that you’re okay with. And certainly, there is no harm in cleaning them again.

Boarding and getting seated can be a hectic process. Sometimes we’re in a rush to take our seats. If you are in a rush, at the very least give the armrests, the latch for the tray table, the top of the seatback pocket, and the seatbelt buckle a good once over with your wipes. Wipe them thoroughly, use elbow grease, and then allow them to dry naturally. This ensures that the active ingredients in the wipes work.

You should also keep your wipes handy to wipe down the handle of the overhead bin before and after you use it, as well as the handles on the bathroom door, the flusher, and even the faucet handles.

Pro tip: Remember to wipe down the laminated safety instructions in the seat pocket and any multi-media screens, remotes, or buttons that you are likely to use during your flight.

Get Ready to Spray

Once you are in your seat it’s time for your combo of disinfectant spray and microfiber cloths. Pull down the tray table in front of you, spray it liberally, and then wait for the spray to work before wiping it clean.

You should apply the same cleaning routine to the seatback in front of your armrests, seat belt (including the buckle), and any other areas that are not made from soft material.

I know what you’re asking yourself. What do I do with the dirty cloths?

Keep a plastic bag for your used dirty cloths. This way they don’t make your other belongings wet or potentially contaminated with germs. You can wash your cloths out properly when you reach your destination.

How to Sanitize the Fabric Areas of Airplane Seats

Don’t waste your wipes on the seat fabric because they will not work. Aerosols are not allowed in the aircraft cabin, so you will need to find another way to overcome a potentially germ-infested seat.

Remember that because you are wearing clothes there really are very few places where your skin will actually make contact with the seat. Basically, once you are seated, avoid rubbing your hands on the seat or grabbing it when you stand up and you should be fine.

Sanitize Airplane Seats Done: What About Common Areas on Planes?

Once you have your own travel space cleaned and disinfected, it seems natural to “worry” about the other areas of the plane that you might visit or items that you will have to touch. Let’s face it, hygiene issues are everywhere. However, some areas are of less concern.

You can wipe cans, bottles, and even food packaging with your wipes before you open your complimentary drink and snack. When taking a drink from the bar, ask for a plastic glass as these are single-use only.

You’ll use the restroom, especially on longer flights. Take wipes with you every time you go to the restroom. Always wash your hands thoroughly when you finish and apply your hand sanitizer when you get back in your seat.

Keep Your Hands Clean

Surfaces covered with germs won’t make you sick by simply touching or sitting on them. But, if you touch a surface with your hands and then touch your face, it is easier for you to pick up an illness on an airplane, at the store, or virtually anywhere you go.

Perfect! Your sanitizing airplane seats tasks are done. Two more suggestions, though.

There are 2 really super easy ways to minimize this risk while you travel:

  • Wash or sanitize your hands regularly, and especially before you eat or after touching shared surfaces.
  • Try to keep your hands away from your face. Tie your hair back, avoid touching your glasses, and make it a practice to keep your hands away from your face.

The single most effective way to ensure good hygiene both at home and away is regular and effective hand washing. As often as you can, reach for soap and water. Give your hands a really good scrub and you’ll feel cleaner and stay safer!

How to sanitize airplane seats

How to Sanitize Your Hotel Room

For years now the very first thing I do when I get to a hotel room is wash my hands. Then I’m ready to take a look around the room and get it ready for my stay. This is not to say housekeeping didn’t get it ready for my stay. It’s just my own leveling up the sanitation and cleanliness process for my own satisfaction.

Wash Your Hands

Why is thoroughly washing my hands with soap and water the first thing I do when I get into a hotel room? Think for a minute. On your way to the room you will have touched many high-use surfaces, including the lobby desk and the elevator buttons, so let’s get rid of those germs first.

Keep Your Luggage on the Floor

Your luggage has been rolled along dirty streets, airports, perhaps mass transit or in the trunk of a taxi. Keep it off the bed and on the floor until you are ready to clean and unpack it. We’ll get to cleaning your luggage in a minute.

Get Your Wipes Out

It is wise to spend some time giving all of the high-contact areas a good going over before you touch them. This includes doorknobs, toilet handles, hotel phone, side tables, window slides, light switches, and of course, the TV remote control.

Pro tip: If you intend to use the TV during your stay, place the remote in a clear, plastic bag.  You can still operate it without ever having to really touch it.

Clean the Sink

Hotel sinks are one of the most germ-infested parts of any accommodation, even in upscale hotels. A great way to ensure that your sink is as clean as can be during your stay is to wipe the sink, faucet, and surrounding areas down with your antibacterial spray. Remember that the spray needs time to work so give it a few minutes before wiping it away with a microfiber cloth.

Remove the Comforter

Ever wonder why white is the color of choice for hotel beds? Most hotels use white bed linen because it can be cleaned at incredibly high temperatures and sterilized to prevent the spread of germs.

Decorative covers and comforters are not washed as often as sheets. It’s likely these bed coverings harbor germs. Take cushions and comforters away and put them in the closet.

Wash Up Hotel Amenities

If your room comes with coffee cups, glasses, or toothbrush holders that are not sealed in a wrapper, wash them up with hot soapy water and leave them in the air to dry. You should also do the same for your ice bucket. Or, don’t use them at all.

Wipe Down Surfaces

We can assume that every surface in a hotel room will receive a high amount of touching traffic. Housekeeping will usually dust and polish to make the room look nice. But looking nice doesn’t mean clean. Wipe down hard surfaces like night tables, coffee tables, desks, and shelves before you put any of your belongings on them.

How to Disinfect and Sanitize Your Suitcase

Your luggage has a life of its own! It easily picks up a lot of grime and germs as it goes from point A to point B. When you reach your destination, or when you return home, be sure to give it a good cleaning using wipes or disinfectant spray.

Clean the Wheels

If it’s one thing I’m obsessive about, it’s not wearing outdoor shoes indoors. I prefer to leave the dirt on my shoes outside my home and hotel rooms. Same for luggage!

If you think your shoes get dirty outside, you should check out the wheels on your suitcase! To prevent the luggage wheels from being a mobile germ spreader give them a thorough cleaning using your disinfectant spray and microfiber cloth.

Clean the Handles

Handles, locks, and the retractable pull-along may not touch the floor. However, they will be touched by your hands and possibly other people’s dirty hands. Wipe these areas using your disinfectant spray and microfiber cloth before opening your luggage. You should also extend the handle to its longest setting to make sure you never miss cleaning the whole handle.

Clean the Case

Both soft and hard-sided suitcases can be given a thorough cleaning with your sanitizer wipes. Because your wipes have certain active ingredients in them, they could potentially discolor luggage. If this is of concern to you, test the wipe on a small area and you’ll know for sure.

While traveling, you can also use your wipes for quick clean-ups on the insides of your suitcase. When you get home, however, you should give it a much more thorough cleaning.

Vacuum out the inside to rid your case of crumbs, dust, sand, and even insects or bed bugs before giving it a good wipedown with a sanitizing spray.

Carry Bags and Backpacks

If you choose to use bags or backpacks instead of cases, give them a machine wash when you get home. You should still regularly wipe handles, zippers, and other closures. Bags that cannot be put in with the laundry should be wiped down using a small amount of laundry detergent, followed by disinfectant wipes before drying.

Bed Bugs

No one likes to talk about bed bugs! Even upscale establishments can occasionally suffer from problems with these microscopic monsters, and bed bugs like nothing better than hitching a ride back to someone else’s home. They are particularly fond of zippers, seams, and the rubber ribbing of your suitcase, and of course, they are notoriously tiny and difficult to spot.

Here’s a quick guide to preventing bringing bed bugs back home with you:

  • Before you leave, visually inspect your case for tiny black or red dots. These are easier to see on lighter colored cases. Watch for a cluster of dots because they may be an indication that this is the skin or blood of these tiny critters.
  • Use your sanitizer spray across all areas of the case, or leave it in bright sunshine as the UV light can help to knock them dead.
  • When you get home, put all of the contents of your luggage in a super hot wash.  If you use packing cubes, you should wash them, too.
  • Vacuum out the inside of your case and immediately change your vacuum bag.
  • Use a bed bug treatment spray on your case before cleaning it again and storing.
  • Keep your luggage outside in the garage until you are sure that they are all gone. Besides beds, these bugs like carpets and couches as well.
  • Finally, if you are very concerned about bed bugs, use a product such as Nuvan ProStrips. Put them along with your suitcase in a garbage bag. These strips will release a gas that will suffocate and kill the bugs.

Let’s Recap the Important Things to Do For Good Hygiene When Traveling

How do you maintain hygiene when traveling?

The number one thing you can do to maintain good hygiene when you travel is to wash your hands with soap regularly. You should also travel with a hygiene kit that includes hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray to keep yourself and any surfaces you come in contact with clean and germ-free.

What has the most germs in a hotel room?

There are many suspects for what has the most germs in a hotel room. Cushions, light switches, drapes, and comforters are only but a few of the contenders. Studies indicate that the remote control had the most germs. Place the remote control in a clear plastic bag. You can still use the device through the bag.

How do I clean the outside of my fabric suitcase?

To clean your case, you can use upholstery shampoo and a damp microfiber cloth to wipe the outside of your fabric suitcase. Just be sure to test a small section first to ensure it doesn’t discolor your case.

How do you sanitize airplane seats?

If you are in a rush to be seated, at the very least give the armrests, the latch for the tray table, the top of the seatback pocket, and the seatbelt buckle a good once over with your wipes. Wipe them vigorously. Then allow them to dry naturally to ensure that the active ingredients work.

Can I bring disinfectant wipes on a plane?

You can take disinfectant wipes onboard an airplane in your carry-on or checked luggage. You can buy these types of wipes in small, purse-size packs that contain between 12 to 20 individual wipes, or larger packs or tubs that will contain many more.

Final Thoughts

Has there ever been a more important time to practice good hygiene than right now? Probably not! Keep yourself and those around you safe by ensuring that your travel hygiene kit is always close at hand. How to sanitize airplane seats, hotel rooms, and luggage, really doesn’t take much time or effort once you establish these rituals!

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