Half of travelers dodge people for a week to avoid getting sick before their vacation

NEW YORK — Nearly half of Americans seemingly go in hiding for at least a week before a trip to avoid getting sick. A new survey of 2,000 adults finds that 44 percent take extra precautions to avoid falling ill for at least a week, with 22 percent saying they do so for at least two weeks. In fact, the average respondent says 10 percent of their luggage is dedicated to personal hygiene items such as hand sanitizer (73%), masks (63%), and cleaning wipes (60%).

Since the start of the pandemic, 58 percent of respondents admit that they have higher standards of cleanliness when traveling. However, that’s not to say respondents aren’t staying clean at home. On a typical day, respondents wash their hands with soap and water about six times per day and use hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes about four times.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Ecolab, results also reveal that 56 percent of Americans feel dirtier and germier when they’re traveling. Respondents are more concerned about cleanliness while traveling to their destination compared to after they’ve arrived (23% vs 16%).

Travelers are raising the bar on room ‘inspections’

To that same tune, 40 percent feel like they first need to clean themselves immediately after arriving at their destination. Even so, Americans aren’t letting their guard down upon arrival – looking for both red and green cleanliness flags.

When searching for red flags that might indicate their room is not clean, respondents look for stains on the sheets (74%), trash on the floor (70%), soap scum in the shower (64%), and dust or fingerprints on the cups (57%). On the flip side, they’re looking for green flags like clean smells (82%), fresh trash bags in the cans (77%), cups wrapped in plastic (72%), and a post-clean seal on the door (52%). It’s no surprise that more than four in five (82%) feel more comfortable staying at places where they have a clear cleaning program.

“It’s more important than ever to try to be cleaner and safer when traveling,” says Lisa Robinson, VP Global Food Safety and Public Health, in a statement. “Vacations are an important time to relax and recharge.”


traveling sick

Getting sick can ruin the whole trip

The survey also asked respondents about their encounters with germs or sickness when traveling and found that 40 percent of all respondents have gotten sick while traveling.

Getting sick on vacation is a traveler’s worst nightmare. Of those who have, 45 percent say they were relegated to their room until their flight back, while 24 percent actually turned around and went home.

Another 22 percent claim their illness ruined the trip for everyone else involved. One in five spread their germs throughout their travel group, making the others in their party sick as well. While they didn’t have to cut their trip off early, 19 percent had to take an extended stay and remain at their destination to recover.

“I wasn’t able to do things with my family when we arrived at our destination,” one respondent says.

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 nationally representative Americans was commissioned by Ecolab between October 11 and October 17, 2022. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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