How to Steer Clear of Germs on Your Travels
Ok, ok calm down…
I’m not looking to turn you into Monk when it comes to being germ-free. A certain level of exposure is healthy, right?
We could probably *all* (including me!) use a few pointers out there.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit cavalier when it comes to this stuff…
“Oh c’mon—my hands are clean ENOUGH.”
“I’m supposed to give my body something to do—that’s why I have an IMMUNE SYSTEM!”
Granted, I’m not basing any of this in fact, just hunches—a point my very-scientific, med-school-bound girlfriend likes to challenge me on from time to time. It’s what keeps the relationship interesting, ya know?
Since we’ve been together, I’ve definitely learned (and un-learned) a few things. With her help, we came up with a list of the more obvious things you’ll want to keep in mind.
Here are 5 Sure-Fire Ways to Minimize Your Exposure to Unnecessary Germs On the Road:
1. Be conscious of your hands: be aware of what you’re touching and of then putting your hands near your mouth and eyes.
There are things out there that thousands of people use each day: doorknobs, railings, buses, trains. If you carry a water bottle, don’t touch the part that you drink from if your hands aren’t clean.
2. Wash your phone: this is one of the dirties things you have and how often do you clean it? Exactly.
How dirty *is* your phone? I’ve seen sites say that it’s anywhere from 10-18x dirtier than a public toilet seat (because that gets sanitized every now and then). Yowsa.
Here’s a great infographic with more on the germ-osphere in your pocket. While that company offers some UV and other products to clean your phone, you can also just grab alcohol wipes (here’s what I use), and give your phone a scrub every day or so. And don’t forget about your computer/iPod/tablet, etc while you’re at it—another big offender!
3. Clean hands with food: wash your hands before you touch any food that you’re going to eat.
Wait until the last moment (when your food is served), then go to the sink/restroom—and use a paper towel to open the door on your way out!
Once you wash your hands, don’t touch your phone or money. Or if you have to, stop using that hand to eat. If you can’t wash your hands, then don’t touch your food!
4. Eat those leftovers: once cooked, food can only be left outside of refrigeration for 3 hours MAX.
Whether you bought food to-go or packed it with you, eat it before the 3-hour mar, or throw it away, as it becomes a breeding ground for lots of bacteria.
Of course if you eat something at 3:01, you won’t die (I still break this), but the risks include food poisoning and feeling horrible. So.. your call. :)
5. Bring your own pen: whenever you need to sign-in, sign your name, or fill out a form, use a pen you trust!
Whether you’re at a restaurant, bank, or doctor’s office (where people are very likely sick!), you never know what germs that collection of pens and pencils on the counter has contracted. Best to avoid it altogether.
If you forget, no problem: reach for your travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer!
By the way, I am *not* perfect with these. I’m still very much working on #1—old habits die hard. It’s not that I *want* to put germs into my mouth or eyes; I just don’t think about it probably as much as I could. I unconsciously rest my hands on my face when I’m thinking or working—just a habit. Well—NO MORE!
Riiiight, more like: I’ll stop doing this as much as I can remember, especially when my girlfriend is in the room, or when I’m writing an article about germs and I casually put my hand on my mouth—stop, Nathan, STOP!
Here are a few other quick ideas:
- Wash all fruits and vegetables (yes, even organic)—including anything you’ll just cut into, as anything from the outside will be brought to the inside by the knife
- Use your hand sanitizer (you bought some, right?) for when a sink isn’t available
- Washing your hands or cleaning with “just water” does nothing—still hard for me to believe this one! :(
- At restaurants, order lemons on the side for your water and squeeze them into your drink, instead of dropping them in
There, now that wasn’t so bad, was it?
How do you deal with these germ situations? Any other tips?
From rainy Everett, WA…
ps: little insider fact—I believe the papaya in that photo up top (from Hawaii) gave me food poisoning, because I didn’t wash it first! See what’ll happen… :)