The disgusting things people do when they travel

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

The disgusting things people do when they travel

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?


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



    To make a comment, please register or login
    26th May 2018
    Water is always a problem, locals using a contaminated supply may have developed an immunity to it, therefore it goes unchecked until a tourist comes along and gets an effective dose.
    26th May 2018
    The only way I would travel is in my own car and with my OWN van -- I know everything is clean and don't have to stay in filthy motels or travel in planes with hoards of others from God knows where and with God knows what.
    The rot you have to go through these days at an Airport finished it for me.
    26th May 2018
    I agree, I prefer my own way of traveling, I'm saving up for a caravan. Can take my own bedding too.
    26th May 2018
    You've got to be joking. This is germ phobia gone mad.
    26th May 2018
    Agree. The bit about the e-coli on bubblers defies logic as I suspect leon meant the lever, not where the water comes out.
    26th May 2018
    "Airplanes" don't have bathrooms. The are not big enough for that. I think, Leon, you mean the toilets or lavatories.

    26th May 2018
    I've been to food markets in Thailand that smelled so bad I was have trouble trying to keep my lunch down. I've also had diarrhoea from eating at fancy hotels in Thailand that I should of been in hospital. Walking bare foot at an airport is the least of your problems. Get over it traveling is risky even eating out in Australia is risky and you're terrified of athletes foot, ha ha.
    26th May 2018
    It is a lot worse now that it ever used to be -- got worse after 2000 Olympics
    26th May 2018
    So I have a chance of catching no athlete's foot since there is no olympics at the moment. If anyone could catch no athlete's foot , it would be me. Ha ha
    26th May 2018
    I meant the whole dirty Motel thing and germ and bed bug thing is a lot worse since the Olympics

    Surely you do not really think Athlete's foot is from Athletes Marcus!
    26th May 2018
    It was a joke sorry you missed it. :)
    26th May 2018
    People not washing their hands after toileting, I have seen this occur countless times when cruising, possibly by the same people who declined to sanitise their hands before entering the dining room to eat. I always make it a rule to never use the hand rails unless I have a disposable paper towel (which are supplied in abundance by the cruise ship).
    29th May 2018
    Oh for heavens sake, is it a slow day at YLC ? People are far too obsessed about hygiene and cleanliness already, don't make it worse.
    Washing hands after toileting or preparing food is sensible. But a little dirt on the bottom of your feet is not going to kill you. In NZ the kids go to school barefoot. Toughen up.
    2nd Aug 2018
    I flew to Japan via Singapore several years ago, and the tail end of the economy section of the plane, which tour group passengers seem to cop, only had one out of two toilets available, the other one had an "out of order" sign on it for the entire flight. As the tail section seemed to be full of men who couldn't "aim to please" it wasn't long before the floor of the toilet was awash. I complained afterwards, but I never heard from them and doubt that they could care less. I sure won't travel on THAT airline again!!!

    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles