Horrible holiday habits

For some reason, good hygiene practices often go on holiday when you do.

Sometimes it’s unintentional, sometime unavoidable and often it’s accidental, but regardless, there are some things you do when you travel that you would never do at home.

One is walking barefoot through airport security. While it’s recommended that you wear shoes and socks on the plane, most security lines will ask you to remove your shoes for screening. Yet some people wear slip-on shoes without socks, so those times you have to walk through security barefoot mean your feet pick up all those germs left behind by thousands of other passengers who have had to do the same as you.

Short of washing your feet after such an exposure, podiatrist Kathleen M Stone says: “Probably the only way you can combat the fact you are walking on a filthy floor is to keep a pair of socks on.”

Podiatry instructor Rami Calis agrees: “Athlete’s foot is not the only issue. Think of all the things that fall off people’s shoes. Also, there might be small tacks or sharp pebbles that could cut you – and if you have an opening in the skin, that is asking for infection. Even a sock won’t protect your foot. If you do step on a tack, then we’re talking about having to get a tetanus shot, and possible staph or pseudomonas infections. You never know where people’s shoes have been. If someone who’s been on a farm walks through the airport, you’ll have faecal matter, too.”



Not sanitising after using security trays
When you go through airport security and have to place your items in the trays provided, you’re also exposed to germs and bacteria inadvertently placed there by the passengers before you. After you pass security, it’s advisable to wipe down all of those items with sanitising wipes, to remove such goodies as faecal matter and other dangerous bacteria.


Using water fountains
Those of you who do the environmentally responsible thing and take a refillable water bottle on your travels may need to use water fountains to fill them up. However, those water fountains can contain high enough bacteria levels to make you sick.

A study conducted by Canada’s Toronto Star newspaper revealed bacteria levels ‘too high to count’ on the 20 public water fountains it tested. People who are already sick are most vulnerable, with harmful pathogens that could contain e-coli and legionella potentially attacking an already compromised immune system and making them even sicker.



Using your phone when you eat
Studies show that your phone carries all kinds of bacteria. Little wonder, when you think of all the surfaces it touches coupled with whatever’s going in near your mouth and hands.

Using your phone when you eat provides the perfect expressway for any bacteria on your phone to travel to your mouth and nose. It’s a good idea to regularly wipe down your phone with sanitising wipes, but even more so when you travel.

Going barefoot in the shower or bathroom
While hotel staff does its best to keep bathrooms and showers clean, there’s still a high chance that the odd ‘once-over’ doesn’t clear up bacteria and fungus that can cause athlete’s foot, tinea or something worse.

The same fungus that causes athlete’s foot can also be found in carpets, so while wearing thongs or rubber shoes in the shower is advisable, walking around on your hotel room carpet can pose a risk, and it may be also best to do so in socks or slippers.


Using the remote
Remote controls for televisions, stereos or video games are germ hotspots. As too are the remotes on your plane screen. So, take along some antiseptic wipes and give them a good once-over before you use them. Another tip is to use the shower cap provided in most hotel bathrooms to cover the remote before you use it.

Shoeless in an airplane bathroom
This one bewilders me, but then that may have to do with the fact that I’ve seen the worst of airplane bathrooms. But let’s give passengers the benefit of the doubt. Turbulence can give airplanes a rough rise, so sometimes it may be a challenge to ‘hit the spot’ in the toilet. Regardless, even dry airplane bathrooms can harbour myriad nasties that you just don’t want on your feet, so why go shoeless?

Read more at www.smartertravel.com

Do you notice people’s bad hygiene habits while on holiday? Do you have some bad hygiene habits as a traveller?

Related articles:
Five germiest places on planes
The dirtiest places at the airport
Sick passengers on planes

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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