When you create your checklist for holiday travels, you start with the obvious ones: toothbrush, extra clothes, sneakers, etc. But people often carry more than they bargain for when germs, viruses and spores hitch a ride. As travel both domestically and internationally increases with each passing year, more and more people stand to unwittingly place friends and family in harm’s way. AAA projects the number of year-end holiday travelers will top 100 million for the first time on record. Nearly one in three Americans will take a trip this holiday season, with 100.5 million expected to journey 50 miles or more from home. This means viral outbreaks can feasibly travel hundreds of miles in a matter of hours.
In other cases, germs are already present on your mode of transportation. Those who book flights, bus tickets or train rides during the holidays (and any other time) put themselves at risk of picking up bacteria from the facilities onboard. CNN listed the dirtiest places on an airplane and the results are not surprising – they’re the areas people are most likely to touch. Washroom locks, seatbelt buckles and tray tables are all in the top six and all are things you may very well use during your flight. Trays tables came in at No. 1 with 2,155 colony-forming units of bacteria on average. While the tests came up negative for E. coli in that particular study, the potential for disease spread through public transportation is clearly high.
Nevertheless, germs don’t have to be an unwelcome partner to your holiday travels. Just as you fill out that checklist for items to take with you, make a similar list: what to do before, during and after travel to limit your potential as a vector for germs.
1. Did you pack your hand sanitizer?
It’s always best to wash your hands whenever you finish a long drive, right after you get off an airplane, bus or train, and as often as possible in general. But what if you’re en route and feel the need to have a snack, rub your eyes or shake someone’s hand? Carrying a travel sanitizer can provide the benefits of handwashing when you don’t have immediate access to a bathroom sink.
2. When is the last time you cleaned your car?
Unfortunately, the answer for many of us is: “I can’t remember.” But if you’re ever going to give the vehicle a good scrub, it’s before traveling. There may be bacteria already lying in wait that can easily transfer to you – or worse, your passengers – if you leave it be. Vacuuming is a good start, but you should really wipe down every surface with a strong disinfectant to be sure no germs linger behind.
“If you’re ever going to give the vehicle a good scrub, it’s before traveling.”
3. Are your packed items germ-free?
Maybe you feel the onset of a cold right before you travel. Take every precaution to boost your own immune system, but don’t forget about everything you’ve used recently – bedding, jackets, toiletries, gloves and so on. Those items carry whatever germs infected you, most likely, and should be washed or disinfected before they make the journey. It will help you get better and keep the bacteria from traveling with you.
4. Hey, public transit – you’re on the hook, too.
Individuals should do all they can to limit carrying germs as they travel, but airliners, passenger trains, bus lines and other public transportation services must take initiative as well. Ideally, each vehicle should be completely disinfected between every trip – and that doesn’t apply to holiday travel alone but should be followed year-round. Fortunately, the means for accomplishing this task aren’t as complicated as they used to be. There are now effective, simple, efficient systems that can disinfect an entire space in a matter of minutes, depending on size.
SteraMist™ BIT™ kills pathogenic bacteria* on contact and is effective for public spaces and public transportation. Read more about this state of the art technology that is available as a handheld, point-and-spray unit or as a complete room fogging system. Depending on the need, both are effective methods to abate disease spread that comes with holiday travel.