Traveling is awesome. The experience broadens your mind and expands your consciousness. Unfortunately, it also leaves you open to a range of illnesses. And while savvy travelers know to avoid sketchy street food, even the most experienced globetrotters overlook this seemingly innocent item. One that every air traveler touches before boarding their plane.
You know those plastic bins that hold your cell phone, wallet, shoes, and other personal belongings when you go through airport security? They're usually worn and kinda grimy, right? Well, according a study published last week in the BioMed Central Infectious Diseases journal, half of all airport security bins are carrying viruses that cause respiratory infections—including the common cold and flu.
In fact, the team of Finnish and British researchers concluded that those bins were teeming with more germs than any other tested area in the airport, including elevator buttons, flight check-in machines and even the toilet lids and handles. That's because those disgusting, infested bins are touched by every passenger and are rarely—if ever—cleaned.
"We found the highest frequency of respiratory viruses on plastic trays used in security check areas for depositing hand-carried luggage and personal items," the scientists wrote in their journal article. "These boxes typically cycle with high frequency to subsequent passengers, and are typically seized with a wide palm surface area and strong grip."
So let this be a reminder to you. The next time you go through airport security, you'll want to wash your hands immediately afterward.
CleanWell Hand Sanitizer.
It's alcohol free, has a subtle citrus scent and the flat design of the bottle discreetly fits into the exterior pocket of any travel bag. Since it's a spray (not a gel), you can spritz the top of your tray table, your arm rest, the air vent nozzle and any other likely contaminated surface you may touch on the plane.
$4.62 at Amazon
Instead of insulting your intelligence with hacks like "bring an empty water bottle" or "pack earplugs," we've put together a list of our team's go-to travel tips that will help even the most seasoned wayfarer avoid the inevitable pitfalls of leaving home.