Maintaining personal hygiene can seem challenging when you’re dog sledding in Alaska or hiking in Guatemala. And it can be just as tricky when you’re spending the day museum hopping or shopping for souvenirs. Regardless of your destination or travel plans, you may not have easy access to soap and water or a place to change into clean clothes. But that shouldn’t keep you from enjoying your journey and its many adventures.
You can maintain personal hygiene while you travel if you know what to expect and prepare accordingly. In this guide, we’ll show you how to stay clean while traveling, whether you’ll be gliding on a zip line in Costa Rica or sipping limoncello in Italy.
Basic Personal Hygiene Tips
Practicing good hygiene helps prevent the spread of illnesses and can make you feel more comfortable, healthy and happy as you travel. It helps to remember the fundamentals before you embark on your journey. The following tips are vital to staying clean and healthy, whether you’re trekking the globe or exploring your hometown:
- Frequently wash your hands: If there’s one hygiene tip to remember, it’s to wash your hands — a lot. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hand-washing can prevent about 20% of respiratory infections. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or apply hand sanitizer any time you touch a public surface and before you eat.
- Shower every day if possible: Showering every day with soap and water washes away dead skin cells, oil and germs. It’s also important to wash your hair with shampoo once a week or more if needed. Be sure to focus on the parts of your body that sweat the most.
- Keep your mouth clean: Brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes and flossing daily helps prevent cavities and gum disease. It would be ideal for you to brush your teeth after each meal, but if this isn’t possible, try to brush your teeth after breakfast and before bed.
- Clip your nails: Keeping your nails short helps prevent dirt buildup underneath them. Be sure to trim your toenails, too, to help avoid issues like hangnails.
- Sleep well: Sleeping is critical to keeping your immune system healthy and making you feel refreshed and energized. Aim to get 7 hours to 9 hours of sleep per night, no matter where you are.
- Stay hydrated: Staying hydrated flushes out bacteria and helps every system in your body function. Try to drink at least 30 ounces to 50 ounces of water throughout the day.
Packing Considerations for Hygiene
In addition to keeping basic hygiene tips in mind as you pack, it helps to consider the details of your trip. Think about the following elements when you’re packing, so you remember to bring the essentials and leave behind the not-so-essentials:
1. Your Itinerary
What will you be doing during your journey? Will you be spending a lot of time on the beach? If so, be sure to pack enough sunscreen. Will you be hiking through a jungle? Don’t forget to bring insect repellent. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ll also want to bring clean masks along so you can prepare for situations where it may be difficult to maintain social distancing.
Overall, you’ll want to consider every detail of your trip and what you’ll need to pack to stay clean and healthy. Create a packing list a week before you leave, so you don’t forget anything.
2. Your Accommodations
Where will you be staying during your travels? If you plan to stay in hotel rooms, it’s good to bring disinfecting wipes so you can sanitize the surfaces in the room before you settle in.
3. Relevant Travel Rules
If you fly to your destination or departure port, be sure you follow the liquids rule enforced by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The TSA also lists items you can and cannot bring on a plane. Abiding by these rules can help simplify your trip through TSA security at the airport so you can get to your gate on time.
4. Your Luggage
Fortunately, practicing travel hygiene doesn’t mean you need to lug along bulky bottles of shampoo and a month’s supply of toilet paper. You’ll only want to bring what you need to protect yourself from germs and feel comfortable, and some items might be included with your accommodations.
For example, if you stay in a hotel or are going on a cruise, you may be able to leave shampoo and body soap at home. You might also have access to a laundry room or services, which means you can wash your clothes during your journey and pack less. Check your accommodations first to help you narrow down what you’ll need to bring.
Best Hygiene Products for Travel
What you need to bring to keep your body clean depends on your personal needs, where you’re going and what you’re doing. Although you might not need all the following hygiene items while traveling, some of these items you’ll definitely want to pack:
- All-purpose soap: If your accommodations aren’t providing soap, you might want to bring your own so you don’t have to worry about picking it up during your journey. A great option is an all-purpose soap, especially if it’s available in travel-sized bottles. You can clean your face, body and hair with this soap, which allows you to pack lighter.
- First-aid kit: Pack a first-aid kit and keep it with you. Include items like over-the-counter pain relievers, your regular prescription medicines, antacids, assorted bandages and an antibiotic ointment. Depending on your plans, you might also wish to bring medicines to prevent motion or altitude sickness.
- Sunscreen: If you plan to be outside during your journey, you’ll need sunscreen — even if you’re traveling in the winter. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the best sunscreen offers broad-spectrum protection, is water-resistant and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. If you’re staying at a beach or traveling during the summer, bring a full-size bottle of sunscreen with you. You’ll have more exposed skin to cover than if you travel during colder months. You can also pack a small bottle to take with you on excursions.
- Hanging toiletry bag: You’ll need a bag to keep your hygiene items organized and accessible. A hanging toiletry bag can be an excellent choice if you’ll have limited space. Consider a compact and easy-to-organize bag with transparent pockets that can fold flat.
- Rinse-free bathing wipes: Bathing wipes can come in handy if you don’t have the time or place to shower but want to freshen up. Deodorant wipes can also help clean under your arms when you’re on the go.
- Disposable toothbrushes: If you want to brush your teeth after a picnic on a secluded beach or as you roam around Rome, consider bringing disposable toothbrushes with you. These brushes can help you freshen your breath and remove food particles from your teeth without the need for water.
- Face masks: Traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic means you need to bring a face mask with you. Try to find a mask made of 100% cotton that features a tight weave with three layers or two layers and a filter pocket. Make sure your mask fits snugly and covers your nose and mouth.
- Hand sanitizer: Hand sanitizer is a traveling must-have. This will protect you from germs wherever you go and whenever you can’t wash your hands. Make sure to bring enough with you to last throughout your trip.
- Disinfecting wipes: Another traveling necessity is a pack or two of disinfecting wipes. The best antiviral wipes for your travel adventure are the ones designed to destroy 99.9% of viruses and bacteria.
Other items to help you maintain hygiene as you travel include:
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Brush or comb
- Dry shampoo
- Quick-dry towel
- Feminine hygiene products
- Shaving cream
- Nail clippers
- Body powder
- Lip balm with sunscreen
- Insect repellent
- Aloe gel
- Calamine lotion
- Rinse-free facial cleanser or wipes
- Lubricating eye drops
- Saline nasal spray
- Sleep mask
- Laundry bag
- Various-sized resealable plastic bags
How to Maintain Personal Hygiene While Traveling
Now that you know what to pack, how else can you stay clean and protect your health while traveling? Here are some of the best travel hygiene tips:
- Prioritize hand-washing: It can’t be said enough — hand-washing must be a priority when you travel. We touch our faces far more than we realize, around 23 times an hour, which makes it easy for germs to reach our eyes, nose and mouth. Wash or sanitize your hands after touching a public surface or handling an animal.
- Keep your feet clean: Avoid walking around barefoot in your hotel room, and wear flip-flops or water shoes in the shower. This will protect your feet from fungi and bacteria.
- Consider moisture-wicking clothing: If you plan to do a lot of physical activity outdoors, like hiking, you might want to avoid cotton clothing and choose moisture-wicking fabrics instead. This will pull moisture away from your skin so it evaporates faster and keeps you dry and odor-free.
- Use your disinfecting wipes: Will you be traveling on a bus, riding in a rental car or paddling in a kayak? Consider wiping down the surfaces you’ll touch with disinfecting wipes to reduce your exposure to germs. This includes hard plastic and metal surfaces like buttons, seat belt buckles, touch screens, knobs and handles. Don’t forget to sanitize your phone often and wash your hands before and after you disinfect objects.
- Bring your own snorkeling gear: If you plan to snorkel on your trip, it may be best to bring your own equipment and avoid renting gear. Even if a rental shop disinfects their equipment properly, it’s still the safest bet to bring your own. You can clean your snorkel with dish soap and water.
- Make a travel hygiene kit: Create a simple, easy-to-tote hygiene kit to take with you wherever you go. It should include gum or mints, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, a face mask, lip balm, a travel-sized bottle of sunscreen, a small plastic bag for trash and a tissue packet — which can also double as toilet paper if needed. If you’re traveling to a dry, hot climate, you might want to put a moisturizer in your kit as well.
- Be safe in public restrooms: You’ll likely have to use a public bathroom when you travel. When you do, try to find a well-maintained restroom, only touch surfaces you need to and wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
- Avoid food sharing: No matter how tasty that bowl of popcorn looks sitting on the bar, resist the urge to grab a handful. Germs easily spread through shared food, drinks and utensils, so politely refuse any offer to sample a travel companion’s treat.
- Think before you eat: Before you bite into that ripe mango you picked up at a farmers market, wait until you can wash it first — even if it’s pre-packaged. Avoid eating anything you encounter during your journey that may not have been cooked, refrigerated or cleaned correctly to keep your digestive system happy and healthy.
Sanitation Tips for Your Travel Accommodations
No matter where you plan to stay as you travel, you’ll want to consider your room’s cleanliness before you book. If you have doubts about a room’s hygiene, consider finding a different place to stay. When you arrive in your room, take a few moments to do a quick cleaning. Here are steps for disinfecting your travel accommodations:
- Wash your hands before and after you wipe down the room, and wear disposable gloves if you have them.
- Use disinfecting wipes to sanitize hard surfaces in the room, such as doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, tabletops, handles, remote controls, light switches and counters.
- Get a new wipe when cleaning a new surface.
- Let surfaces air dry after you wipe them down.
- Follow the instructions on the wipe’s package.
- Keep your luggage off the bed.
- Wipe down the wheels and handles on your luggage.
- Remove decorative pillows and covers from the bed and store them away.
Travel Healthy With Windstar Cruises
Traveling is extremely rewarding and enriching. If you love to travel, you can probably recall moments when the scenery took your breath away or you bonded with a local. Practicing good hygiene as you travel is part of a pleasurable experience, and it protects you and the people you meet along the way.
At Windstar Cruises, we make it easy to stay clean on board. We are committed to creating a safe, healthy environment for our guests and crew members and are enhancing our ships to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus and other germs. When you step aboard any of our yachts, you can expect high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters paired with ultraviolet-C light to purify and disinfect the air, as well as hospital-grade solutions to sanitize every surface throughout the ship. To learn more about our strategy to protect guests as they cruise, please visit our Health and Safety page, or talk to a vacation planner today to learn more.