After disembarking a plane full of coughing and sneezing passengers, you may look forward to settling into your hotel room, safe from air-borne illnesses and viral diseases.
But don't breathe a sigh of relief just yet.
“Hotel rooms can be a hotbed for germs, and the lighting and poor circulation in some make for an unhealthy environment,” doctor and alternative medicine specialist Deepak Chopra told the New York Times.
Luckily, there are certain measures you can take to create a healthier hotel environment and keep your immune system strong.
1. Don't let the bed bugs bite.
When you first enter your hotel room, set down your suitcase on the luggage rack and take a quick look around for bed bugs. Business Insider even suggests stripping the bed of its linens and check the corners of both the sheets and mattress for bugs or reddish-brown blood spots. Aside from the bed, you may also want to examine the upholstered furniture – paying close attention to the seams and folds – as well as the curtains and headboard. If you spot bed bugs, notify hotel staff asap.
2. Ditch the bedspread.
Some hotels use duvets because the covers can easily be removed and cleaned. However, just because duvet covers can be laundered does not mean that they are — at least not frequently. As Reneta McCarthy, a former housekeeping manager for a major American hotel chain, told CNN, hotels may not switch out the duvets when they are providing fresh top sheets. Your best bet is to play it safe and store the comforter or duvet in the closet.
3. Disinfect commonly used items.
Pack antibacterial wipes in your suitcase and disinfect the most commonly used objects before unwinding. Take care to wipe down the telephone, door handles, toilet flusher, light switches, faucets, ice bucket, and television remote, which is the dirtiest thing in your hotel room.
4. Welcome natural light.
Chopra told the New York Times that getting more natural light “can help improve your energy, mood and sleep when you travel.” Request a room with good light and keeping your curtains open when it's light outside. (This is also a good way to more quickly adjust to the local time zone.) If you need to use your phone or computer at night, use nightmode or download a blue-light filter.
5. Use a light therapy alarm clock.
Light therapy isn't just for Seasonal Affective Disorder. An alarm clock that mimics sunlight will regulate your circadian rhythm, gradually wake you up in the morning, and help you feel well rested for a day full of activity.
6. Open the window (if you can).
Poor air quality – caused by toxic cleaning products, paint, and furniture – can lead to headaches and fatigue, according to Chopra. Improve the circulation in the room by opening a window if possible, and inviting in fresh air (depending on where you are).
7. Avoid hotel room glassware.
A 2008 ABC15 investigation found 11 out of 15 hotels did not clean or sanitize their guests' dirty glasses. Clean the glasses yourself, drink from plastic wrapped cups if available, or opt for bottled water.
8. Bring your own snacks.
The minibar is tempting, but candy and alcohol are obviously not healthy choices. Stock up on fruit, nuts, and trail mix before you arrive. Having healthy snacks on hand also keeps you from overindulging during meals out, according to Health.