9 Ways To Make Your Hotel Room Healthier

interior hotel roomNot all hotels can offer plush bathrobes, superb security, and immaculate cleanliness. The reality is that even five-star hotels have been found to harbor plenty of hidden mildew and germs.

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However, there are ways to make your home away from home not only more pleasant, but healthier and safer too.

1. Pack your own sheets. If you have any concerns about your hotel’s cleaning practices, pack a queen-size sheet to throw over the bedspread so you’re not exposed to dust mites, germs, or allergens lurking in the cover.

2. Pack a long-sleeved sleep shirt and long sleep pants. Again, if you are concerned about the hygiene of the bedding, reduce contact by wearing body-covering pajamas and light socks to bed.

3. Use your bed for sleeping only. Don’t do work on it, eat on it, and don’t watch movies or TV on it. Not only is that more hygienic, but you’ll likely find it easier to fall asleep that way.

4. Ask for an allergy-free room. Some hotels are now offering rooms that are built and furnished to minimize the amounts of dust mites and other allergens. Even if you don’t have allergies, this might be a good choice for people prone to colds and flus. Other hotels provide allergy packs, including face masks, special pillows, and mattress covers. But you have to ask for them.

5. Ask for a room on the third floor or higher. Most thefts occur on the first two floors. Stay below the seventh floor, however; few fire engine ladders can reach above it.

6. Choose a hotel over a motel.
This is mostly for safety reasons: Burglaries are easier when your room’s door is quickly accessible from the parking lot. You also get more dirt and allergens coming through the doorway when it opens directly to the outside. You wouldn’t want to sleep eight feet from the front door at home, would you.

7. Check the bed for bedbugs before you unpack. Have you ever woken up in a hotel room, felt itchy, and assumed you’d been bitten by mosquitoes in your sleep? It might have been bedbugs. Growing pesticide resistance has resulted in outbreaks of bedbugs in even some of the best hotels. These brown bugs, which are the size of an apple seed, can leave itchy welts on the skin. One veteran traveler suggests pulling back the comforter quickly and watching closely to see if any bugs scamper. Also look for bloodstains on pillows or mattress liners and carefully check the seams of mattresses. If you see anything suspicious, ask for another room — then repeat the process. Even if you don’t find any bugs, move the bed away from the wall, tuck in the sheets, and keep the blanket from touching the floor. Just in case!

8. Pack a pair of rubber thongs, a.k.a. flip-flops. Use them in the bathroom, on the carpet (who can guess the last time the carpet was cleaned?) and in the pool area to prevent any fungal (or worse) infections.

9. Stay out of the hotel’s hot tub. Okay, now you think we’ve gone totally nuts. There’s no doubt that hot tubs are luxuriously soothing, and if you’re willing to take a slight chance, go ahead and plunge in. Just be aware that hot tubs can foster bacteria such as the one that causes folliculitis (itchy red bumps). And some people have developed bronchitis and even serious forms of pneumonia from breathing in air contaminated by bacteria growing in the water.