Now and then I still get some questions from my blog readers about travel hygiene. Normally the questions start, with the “I am sorry for this stupid question…”, what shows too many people think that this topic is something we all should know about. Anyway, I believe there are no stupid questions, but only people, who are afraid asking. Not many topics about travel hygiene can be found… Maybe lots of people are just to embarrassed to say anything about it and that is why I have decided, it is about time, to write something about it myself as well!
Basic travel hygiene tips
- Public toilets
No matter which country we visit, there are always public toilets available. Normally we can find them at the bus, train or petrol stops. Good news, you could say, but sometimes these public toilets look so bad, you would rather do the thing somewhere else. If you can use the nature, that’s always the best and also the most hygienic way, but sometimes, I am afraid, this is just not possible. If that is the case, just put on some good, closed shoes, put your pants high up and do it as quickly as possible. Don’t think, just do it and be happy to finish it soon! My advice is also to always have your own toilet paper on your travels. The luxury toilet paper we are used to (3-layers) is hard to find and often pretty expensive and it will not costs you much bringing your own roll or two with you.
There is of course no problem with showering if you stay in a hotel or hostel. There are normally pretty good showers available. The lower you go with your budget, the less attractive showers of course get, but nevertheless – showering is possible and no matter if it comes from the nice looking cabin or from a plastic bucket. The bigger problem arise, when you are wild camping, what attracts mostly the overland travelers. Some overland travelers, who travel with their cars, have solar showers, but if you are like Simon and I, you just keep it simple and use the plastic bottles, which you fill with water and poor over yourself. Wet handkerchiefs can help you a little as well, not to mention lakes, rivers or sea.
Simon and I are very basic and without any special demands, when it comes to food. Well, it of course helps if you have a steel stomach. We never use disinfection for our hands and the only rule we have is, to eat where locals do. When we do overland travel, we also cook by our won, but if not, we like street food. You can read more about street food tips in a special blog post “Food and Travel”.
- Washing clothes / laundry
I am very supportive when it comes to light packing, but that does not mean, people who travel light are dirty and smell bad. Each touristic place has numerous laundries (especially in Asia) and having clean clothes does not cost a fortune either.
- Women travelers
It is no secret that women are normally a little bit more demanding when it comes to hygiene – especially during “our” days. I was born under a “lucky star”, as I always have my period at the worst possible places, you cannot even imagine. But OK, what does not kill you, makes you stronger and here I am… nothing can beat the plastic bottle with water when you are miles apart from running water and civilization. Don’t forget to have your tampons with you, as finding them in the third world countries can be a big challenge.
It is not a big secret that more adventurous travels get, less comfortable and hygienic normally are. All I can say is to have your head high and bare it – you know exactly why you are doing this. Believe me, no one REALLY enjoys being without a shower for a day, two, three or even more…but that’s the way it is. If you cannot imagine yourself without a daily shower, than just don’t do these kinds of travels – no one will blame you! Be true to yourself, because you can make a living hell to you and all the other travelers, who are used to these kinds of circumstances. We cannot be alike and like or dislike the same things – after all, isn’t this the reason, why our world is so beautiful and interesting?