10 hygiene tips for travelling 10 hygiene tips for travelling
10 hygiene tips for travelling

Healthy holidays

Hygiene tips for the holidays
When you travel, you bring back keepsakes. But while fridge magnets, delicacies, or postcards are typical keepsakes, some travellers also return with less pleasant post-holiday souvenirs: colds, the flu, or gastrointestinal infections. We explain why you can end up sick in bed during your holidays – and provide tips and tricks on staying healthy during and after!

Travel time – illness time?

Expectation: Discovering foreign countries and cultures, lying in the sun, swimming in the sea, or admiring beautiful sights.

Reality: Lying in bed with fever, chills, and a cold.

Sounds familiar? It’s not surprising. Numbers from Germany reveal that in 2021, 6% of Germans fell ill during their holidays. The most common reason for this was a cold (41%), but gastrointestinal infections are also among the typical holiday diseases [1].

Germs are to blame for infections during or after your holiday. Especially when travelling to foreign countries, we come into contact with viruses and bacteria our immune system is not familiar with and cannot fight off as effectively. Temperatures in which germs feel particularly comfortable and sub-standard hygiene conditions do the rest.

10 tips for preventing infections when travelling

An infection is not fun – either on holiday or afterwards. But here's the good news! With a few simple hygiene measures, you can protect yourself relatively well against illness while travelling. How? We have the best tips and tricks for you!
Hygiene tip number 1
Tip #1:
Wash hands thoroughly
When it comes to avoiding infections, clean hands are key. Wash your hands regularly and carefully with soap or wash lotion, especially after using the toilet, before preparing food and before eating! We recommend using a mild, nourishing product such as Sterillium® Protect & Care Wash Lotion Hands. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly, i.e., completely soap your hands including your fingertips, thumbs, and between your fingers for about 20 to 30 seconds [2]. Ideally, the water temperature should not exceed lukewarm so as not to stress your skin too much.
Hygiene tip number 2
Tip #2:
Disinfect your hands
When you are on holiday, you are always out and about. Inevitably, you touch surfaces where there are many germs – for example, on public transport, ATMs, or door handles. At the same time, soap/wash lotion and running water are not always available. In such situations, a hand disinfectant can help. Products such as Sterillium® Protect & Care Disinfection Gel Hands* or Sterillium® Protect & Care Disinfection Tissues Hands* fit in your pocket and can be used anywhere. Make sure to apply the product thoroughly to your hands for at least 30 seconds. Don’t forget your fingertips, thumbs, or between your fingers.
Hygiene tip number 3
Tip #3:
Check your vaccinations before every trip! Find out what vaccinations are recommended or required for your destination, check your vaccination status, and eliminate any gaps. You should also consider when you need to get vaccinated, as some vaccinations take several days or even weeks to fully build up protection. It is best to consult your doctor on this topic [3].
Hygiene tip number 4
Tip #4:
Protect yourself against insects
In some countries, insect bites are merely unpleasant. In others (especially subtropical and tropical countries) they can be a source of infection. Either way, you should protect yourself from insects when travelling. Be sure to use a good insect repellent. Additional measures to protect yourself from insect bites may include wearing trousers and long-sleeved tops and using insect netting or mosquito tents [4].
Hygiene tip number 5
Tip #5:
Surface disinfection can be useful
Some pathogens can survive for months on surfaces, which is why frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, pose a high risk of infection. Of course, you don't have to disinfect your entire hotel room while on holiday, because hand hygiene is and remains key. However, it is sometimes recommended to disinfect certain surfaces as an additional measure. These include taps in public toilets or, as already mentioned, door handles in heavily frequented places. Again, handy travel companions, such as Sterillium® Protect & Care Disinfection Tissues Surface*, are a great solution.
Hygiene tip number 6
Tip #6:
“Cook it, boil it, peel it, or forget it!”
Cook, boil, peel, or pass – that's the tried-and-tested rule for faraway countries. Contaminated food (e.g. with E. coli, salmonella or shigella) is one of the most common causes of gastrointestinal infections on holiday. For this reason, you should try to use industrially packaged products in certain countries. Alternatively, you should either freshly peel food or heat it up, which kills most pathogens. Avoid openly cut fruit, raw meat, or raw fish [5].
Hygiene tip number 7
Tip #7:
Beware of tap water
Not all countries have the same quality of tap water as we do. Therefore, it can be just as much a source of infection as food. In some countries, it is recommended to boil tap water or alternatively, use water from original sealed bottles – if necessary, even for brushing teeth or washing dishes. Be careful with ice cubes too! It is better to order drinks without ice [6].
Hygiene tip number 8
Tip #8:
Hands off wild animals
It is better to keep your distance from wild animals and stray dogs or cats on holiday. Bites are particularly dangerous, as they might transmit tetanus or rabies. But even petting animals can lead to catching an infection. If you do encounter an animal, you should wash or disinfect your hands thoroughly afterwards [7]. What you should keep in mind here? Check Tip #1 and Tip #2 above.
Hygiene tip number 9
Tip #9:
Keep flies away from food
Flies are not only annoying, but also possible carriers of diseases. When they come into contact with infectious material such as faeces, they can load themselves with pathogens and transfer them to food. Therefore, it is important to keep flies away from your food by wrapping or sealing it well and not leaving it in an open place [8].
Hygiene tip number 10
Tip #10:
Pack a first-aid kit
To protect yourself against illnesses and treat minor symptoms quickly, it is advisable to carry a first-aid kit with you on holiday. Depending on the destination and duration of your trip as well as your individual needs, it is best to seek advice from your doctor or a pharmacist.

The right travel companions for your holiday

Sterillium® Protect & Care

As you can see, hand hygiene is our number one tip for a safe and healthy holiday. Therefore, four products from our Sterillium® Protect & Care family should not be missing in your travel bags:

  • Sterillium® Protect & Care Disinfectant Gel Hands*: Our comprehensively effective hand disinfectant gel with moisturising care components. Acts quickly against bacteria, fungi, and enveloped viruses as well as norovirus and rotavirus. It is ideally suited for hand hygiene "on the go".
  • Sterillium® Protect & Care Wash Lotion Hands: Our mild yet nourishing wash lotion for gentle hand washing. Cleanses thoroughly while being gentle on the skin – ideal for regular use.
  • Sterillium® Protect & Care Disinfection Tissues Hands*: Our practical disinfection wipes for hands. Removes 99.99% of germs, fits in any pocket, and can be used anywhere.
  • Sterillium® Protect & Care Disinfection Tissues Surface *:
    Our material-friendly rapid disinfection wipes for disinfecting sensitive surfaces. In a handy flowpack, ideal for at home and on the go.
The perfect travel companions


[1] Forsa survey / DAK Health Holiday Report 2021
https://www.dak.de/dak/download/forsa-umfrage-2475862.pdf (retrieved on: 04.05.2022)

[2] Gorbach, S.L., et al. Travelers' diarrhea. NIH Consensus Development Conference. JAMA. 1985 May 10;253(18):2700-4.

[3] Epidemiological Bulletin / Recommendations by the Ständige Impfkommission (STIKO) and the German Society for Tropical Medicine, Travel Medicine and Global Health e.V. (DTG) on Travel Vaccinations
https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/Infekt/EpidBull/Archiv/2022/Ausgaben/14_22.pdf?__blob=publicationFile (retrieved on: 04.05.2022)

[4] Ärzteblatt.de / Insect protection: How to reduce the risk of being bitten
https://www.aerzteblatt.de/archiv/143452 (retrieved on: 04.05.2022)

[5] Centre for Travel Medicine / Infection risks in the Mediterranean region
https://www.crm.de/mittelmeer/Mittelmeer.pdf (retrieved on: 04.05.2022)

[6] Foreign Office / Disease prevention and hygiene abroad (esp. tropics)
https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/blob/200228/e18cc851b965d63c301f23feb90d0698/hygieneausland-data.pdf (retrieved on: 04.05.2022)

[7] Infektionsschutz.de / Hygiene and animals
https://www.infektionsschutz.de/hygienetipps/hygiene-und-tiere/ (retrieved on: 04.05.2022)

[8] Foreign Office / The importance of disease-carrying insects
https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/blob/200048/9dc801cfb5ca1b1ba10cc10f5a35a8e2/garms-data.pdf (retrieved on: 04.05.2022)

*Use disinfectants safely.
Always read label and product information before use.

Explore more stories