How to have a healthy hotel stay

Depending on the nature of your vacation, a hotel can be a home-away-from-home or simply a haven at the end of the highway. Hopeful travellers trust that hotels are safe stopovers, but are there hazards hidden behind those doors?

Don't let the bedbugs bite. At the end of a long, activity-filled day, weary travellers look forward to falling into a comfy bed. Unfortunately, hotel beds can harbour bacteria, dust mites, and bedbugs, among other things. Reputable hotels should launder or dry clean the sheets between visitors, but who knows how often bedspreads are cleaned. Pull back the top cover of the bed before lying down, and do a quick scan for dark spots, which is a sign of bedbugs. Consider bringing along your own pillows and sheets – especially if you experience allergies. Keep your luggage closed in case any active bedbugs try to hitchhike out of the hotel on your clothes.

Be cautious about contact. Not to encourage total germ-a-phobia, but the bed isn't the only place in a hotel room that's a bacteria magnet. Some people tote plastic bags for handling the telephone and the remote control, since both can conceal microbial reminders of former guests. Undercover investigations have also revealed that hotel room drinking glasses may get sprayed with industrial cleansers or else go completely unwashed. Either bring your own drinks or cups, or use the one-off plastic-wrapped cups provided. As with the bed, the bathroom should also be approached with care. Pretend you're at the public showers of the gym – wear flip-flops!

Make it feel like home. Especially if you're on an extended stay away from home, it's nice to bring a little bit of home along with you. Small photographs or a couple of familiar books may soothe homesickness. Refresh stale hotel room air with a scented travel candle or an essential oil burner filled with germ-fighting eucalyptus or uplifting lemongrass oil.

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