5 Flu Season Travel Essentials

flu shotWe all know that airplanes double as mobile petri dishes. But with a particularly nasty flu epidemic upon us, the Gadling team thought we’d mother you by reminding you to get your flu shot, already. That, and bring along these proven deterrents to the flu and other airborne nastiness. Look at it this way: it can’t hurt.

1. Airborne or Emergen-C: If nothing else, these will shorten the duration and symptoms of an oncoming bout of cold or flu, if taken regularly at onset of symptoms. You can also talk to your travel doctor or primary care provider about prophylactic immune supplements (be wary of homeopathic or naturopathic preparations, which may not be FDA-approved, or could interact with prescription drugs you may be taking. Always talk to your pharmacist, first.).

2. Travel pillow: Need another reason? Because sharing leftover drool from an airline pillow is gross. While you’re at it, pack a lightweight blanket or shawl; if you are coming down with something, it will ward off the chills. And god knows your airline won’t supply you with one.

3. Ibuprofen: Being crammed into a seat is uncomfortable enough without adding fever aches to the mix.

3. Packet of antibacterial wipes: This time of year, it’s a good idea to wipe down airline bathroom faucets, your tray table, and possibly that runny-nosed, coughing toddler seated next to you.

4. Hand Sanitizer: Travelers should always be in the habit of carrying this, in lieu of soap and water. Use it after touching ATM’s, airline check-in screens, elevator buttons and money.

[Photo credit: Flickr user @alviseni]

Canadian Hotel Rooms Test High For Bacteria, Investigation Shows

Oh, Canada. You’ve got national healthcare and spectacular scenery, but your hotel rooms … those need work.

According to a recent CBC Marketplace investigation conducted by a microbiologist, six diverse chain hotels ranging from budget to high-end had, “high levels of contamination creating potentially hazardous conditions for guests.”

Marketplace apparently surveyed thousands of “high-touch” spots in 54 rooms, using a “an adenosine triphosphate (ATP) measuring device that determines microbial contamination on surfaces.”

The filthiest items likely won’t come as a surprise to frequent travelers: bed comforters, bathroom faucets, and remote controls took top honors for bacterial counts. Microbiologist Keith Warriner of Guelph University, who conducted the investigation, warns that hotel bacteria is a greater health risk to guests, because the germs come from literally thousands of different bodies. In the case of bedding, we’re exposed to those nasties for a longer period of time.

If money is tight, you’ll be happy to know that ubiquitous cheapie Super 8 had some of the cleanest bathrooms, while luxury hotels often had poor results. The big picture is that just because a room looks clean, doesn’t mean it is. Blame overworked (and likely underpaid) hotel staff, who often don’t have adequate time to deep-clean all of the required rooms on their shifts.

Here’s a tip: Bring your own pillowcase, fold down the comforter, and make friends with a bottle of Purell when staying in a hotel or motel. Otherwise, just look at it as an immune system-building holiday.

[Photo credit: flickr user adrigu]