germ prevention while traveling a woman wears mask and holds her phone

Take precautions before, during and after travel to protect yourself and others. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tips + Trends

How to Travel Germ Free — From Plane to Hotel and Back Home Again

Before you set foot in the airport, board the plane or unpack in your hotel room, take time to consider how you’ll protect yourself and those around you from germs while traveling.

A few general hygiene and cleanliness tips should be top of mind to help avoid germs.

Prior to Your Trip

Spend time creating a packing list for your carry-on bag that includes items such as hand sanitizer (make sure it’s at least 60 percent alcohol), disinfecting wipes or sprays (ideally ones that are EPA-registered), and face masks. Also bring eye drops to combat dry air on the plane that can leave your eyes irritated and prone to touching. If you use blankets or pillows when you fly, bring your own in your carry-on bag, as well.

Pack your clothes in a roller suitcase rather than a tote or weekender. Because these bags can stand up on their own, they will be less at risk for resting on dirty floors or surfaces while in your hands. Plus, if you use a hard-body suitcase, its exterior is easy to wipe down and disinfect.

Bring a travel-size first-aid kit or assemble your own. In addition to things like bandages and antiseptic wipes, make sure it includes a thermometer, fever reducers (like acetaminophen or ibuprofen), cough and cold medicines, and over-the-counter medicine for diarrhea.

Be sure to boost your immunity before boarding a plane or hitting the road. A strong immune system is your first line of defense for fighting off germs. Get a good night’s sleep prior to departing, and drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and keep your respiratory tract moist.

Finally, make sure you’ve booked any hotel accommodations in advance.

man uses hand sanitizer at airport
Be prepared when you travel to airports. (Photo: Getty Images)

At the Airport and on the Plane

Wear a face mask and remember to wash your hands frequently with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds after you’ve been in a public space or if you find yourself sneezing, blowing your nose or coughing. Similarly, if you’ve been in contact with public spaces, remember to avoid touching your eyes, mouth or nose.

Keep your disinfectant wipes or sprays and hand sanitizer in easy reach as you board the plane. Once you are at your seat, it’s time to get busy. Wipe down or spray the entire seating area: headrest, seatbelt, armrests, tray table (including the latch!) and the seatback pocket.

Next, give a wipe to any in-flight entertainment equipment, including seatback screens and remote controls.

After you’ve wiped down the seating area, wash your hands with soap and hot water or use hand sanitizer.

If you use the airplane bathroom, limit your contact with surfaces as much as possible, using a paper toilet-seat cover, as well as paper towels to turn on the faucet before washing your hands with soap and hot water. Use another paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the bathroom door.

using hand sanitzer in car
Bring plenty of hand sanitizer on road trips. (Photo: Getty Images)

On a Road Trip

If you’re traveling by car, pre-pack meals, snacks and drinks so that you can minimize the number of stops you make at public rest areas. Bring high-protein snacks like nuts, energy bars and cheese sticks — they’ll keep you feeling full for longer.

As with plane travel, pack an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes, and keep them within easy reach. Clean the inside of your car regularly with the wipes, making sure to do the steering wheel, cup holders, seatbelts, door handles and gear shifts.

When you do stop to get gas, after touching pumps, make sure to clean your hands with alcohol-based sanitizer.

At the Hotel

Hotels take stringent measures to make sure guest rooms and public spaces are free from germs, like adding hand sanitizing stations and signs encouraging social distancing throughout the property and using electrostatic sprayers and the highest classification of disinfectants recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).

Hotel associates will be required to wear masks on property, and guests at any hotel in the U.S. and Canada will be required to wear face coverings in any enclosed public areas on property, as well.

washing hands with soap in sink
Wash your hands frequently with soap for at least 20 seconds. (Photo: Getty Images)

To ensure every possible precaution for guest safety is considered, Marriott International has launched the Marriott Cleanliness Council, comprised of infectious disease experts with ties to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), WHO and the CDC, as well as leaders in hygiene and infection prevention in the food, healthcare and hospitality industries.

Guests will also be offered clean kits that include sanitizing wipes, which will be left in the room along with a note explaining the care that has been taken to clean and disinfect the room. You can use the wipes to clean high-touch surfaces like TV remotes and light switches, and housekeepers will not re-enter rooms to clean or refresh towels during a stay.

After Your Trip

When you return from your travels, place everything washable into the laundry and take care to wipe down your luggage — especially any checked suitcases. You can even use your carry-on disinfectant wipes to clean the handle and surface of your suitcase immediately after grabbing it from the airport’s baggage carousel. After doing so, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands.