The Sane Girl's Travel Guide to a No-Stress Summer Vacation
Disturbing but necessary facts about hotel safety and hygiene.
1. Pass the glass.
The last time those paper-capped glasses saw a dishwasher may well have been during the Reagan administration (especially if your lodging is a far cry from four-star). Even if they haven't been sipped from, they've probably been handled, putting you at risk for contagions like the stomach flu. "A robust virus can live on a glass for a couple days," says Philip M. Tierno Jr., MD, director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Medical Center and author of The Secret Life of Germs. Concerned? Ask for some new glasses from room service.
2. Don't let the bed bugs bite.
After being nearly forgotten in the U.S., bed bugs have recently made a comeback, even at the nicest hotels. (Some experts think the resurgence is due to international travelers bringing home the varmints.) Generally found in heavily trafficked urban areas, they have flat, reddish-brown bodies that are about one-quarter- to one-half-inch long. Their MO is to feed by sucking your blood. The bad news is that the bugs like to hide, so you may not know you have them until you wake up covered in bites. It's worth inspecting the room when you arrive. Look in the nightstand drawer, under the mattress, and in any cracks and crevices around the bed or bed frame, says Xing Ping Hu, PhD, an associate professor of entomology at Auburn University in Alabama.
3. Safeguard valuables.
An electronic safe is the best bet for keeping your items secure in your room. But don't get too confident, says Amy Ziff, Travelocity's editor-at-large. Stash serious valuables in the hotel safe. It can be a major hassle timewise, but the hotel safe is more likely to be insured. Other tips: Before leaving your room, close the blinds and turn on the TV and a light to discourage casual thieves. And skip the "Please Clean Room" sign -- it's a red alert that the room is prime for the picking.
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