Wed, January 12th, 2011 - By

Dealing with Cleanliness on the Road

I don’t have children, but I was just chatting to a good friend last week about some of her worries and fears while on the road.  She’s a mother, and they’ve just been on a massive holiday road trip, so the topic was timely.   One of the things we got to talking about was cleanliness while travelling.  I’m not talking about trying to find time to take a shower, I mean the environment itself:  crumb-y planes, filthy hotels, roaches in the restaurant.

When you have children, this is even a bigger worry than just yourself.  But what do you do?  A few suggestions for making it home illness-free.

Start with Tempering Your Expectations

The UK is a pretty clean place, as compared with our worldly neighbours.  You might complain when the rubbish tip hasn’t been picked up in a week, but what if you lived in a country where littler and rubbish control just was an afterthought?  In places like India, garbage is everywhere, and don’t even ask about the public toilet facilities!

That’s why I say, temper your expectations.  Most travel guides, blogs or websites make mention of issues like this, and so you can go in with eyes wide open.  It doesn’t do you any good to compare to things back home, because if you wanted a place just like home, you might as well choose that staycation instead.

At other times, you are just going to have to deal with it.  My favourite example? The airlines.  Most aeroplanes are just flat out filthy – some of them I think you could sweep them out and fill up a few new bags of nuts and pretzels for the next flight.  Blerch.  There is not much you can do about it – except don’t go rooting around in that seat back pocket in front of you.  Who knows what’s down in there.

Seatback Pocket

Arrive Prepared

There are supermarkets and pharmacies everywhere in the world – trust me.  But, if you’re worried about sanitation, then I suggest you bring with you a few things just to save you the hassle and give you peace of mind.  If you’ve got hand wipes or some of that hand sanitizer you might consider some carry-on safe sized bottles.  Ladies, don’t forget the loo roll!   If you are prone to stomach bugs while you’re away, then make sure you have some medicine in your bag – a rough bowel is no time to try out the local shaman’s recommendation.


As the saying goes, better safe than sorry.  If you do end up needing something, ask your tour guide or the hotel front desk; normally there’s a locals suggestion and maybe if you’re nice they’ll go out and get it for you.

Don’t Be Ashamed to Say Something

If your hotel or accommodation has a problem, don’t be afraid to say something!  Even the best hotel has an off moment, and especially if  you have taken the time to read through reviews and booked something in confidence, you have the right to ask them what the heck is going on.

Worst case scenario is you ask them to cancel the rest of your reservation and you move hotels.  Just make sure you find another place to stay first.  And while I’ve only heard of someone resorting to this once, I could happen.

What are your tips for cleanliness on the road?

Photo by mckaysavage, dyobmit, powerbooktrance

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 at 12:56
Category : How To...
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