Germ Facts Every Traveler Must Know

Nowadays people travel more than ever before. Americans logged 1.7 billion trips away from home for leisure purposes alone in 2015, according to U.S. Travel Association. Globally, 2012 was a record-breaking year with more than a billion tourists vacationing outside their countries' borders, according to the UN World Tourism Organization.  

Being away from home – whether for business or pleasure – has become so common that many people are not even thinking about germs, many of which have the potential to cause diseases.  

Planes, cabs, trains, buses, hotel rooms and even friends' houses – they all have the harmful microorganisms. It's hard to be prepared to every bacterium, but knowing what to avoid can help reduce the risk of catching unpleasant bugs.

Adults have an average of 2-3 colds per year, and children have even more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cold symptoms last for about 5-7 days while those of the flu can linger for several weeks. That's a long time feeling sick and weak.


During an experiment, microbiologists found more than 3,000 bacteria on a plane. The door, the seat tray, everything inside the seat pocket, which experts agree is the filthiest place. Avoid the bathrooms on planes. In the last six years, viruses such as influenza, MRSA, and diarrhea have been found in collected samples. The overhead air vents are among the worst offenders too.

A separate study showed that your luggage can come into contact with up to 80 million bacteria before you even set it down in your hotel room, according to media reports.

Public Restrooms

Even though a recent study found that public bathrooms are not as gross as you may have thought, they should be avoided. Most bacteria will quickly die on bathroom surfaces, but how quickly is a different issue. You may come into contact with harmful germs before they perish and before the bathroom has been cleaned.

Door and flush handles are the dirtiest places you can touch in a public bathroom. Many microbes that cause skin problems are also found stalls, faucets and soap dispensers.

Cell phones

More than half of people who own smartphones check them several times an hour, according to a survey. Most Americans have smartphone by them all day, many all night. This means that all of the bacteria on your or other people's hands – from whatever they touched – are transferred on your phone, waiting for you.

Most germs won't cause a serious condition, but studies have found E. coliMRSA and Streptococcus living on smartphones. Make sure you clean your device with a microfiber cloth at least once a day.

Hotel Rooms

The average hotel room is filthier than a typical home, school or even a plane, according to a study. Some tested surfaces in 5-star hotels had a much higher CFU count than 3- and 4 -star lodges.  

The worst offenders are the bathroom counter, remote control, desk, and phone. All of these, maybe with the exception of the phone, are used very often. Watch this video to see how and what in hotel rooms really gets cleaned.

More readings:

How to Get Around Hidden Airline Fees

17 Household Items You Should Get Rid of Immediately

Zika Facts and Myths: Is It That Scary?