For better or worse, the coronavirus has ensured that traveling will never feel the same. While vaccinations are allowing more people to hit the road again, the less-hygienic parts of travel—from packed trains and planes to campground and road-stop bathrooms—will no doubt have us reaching for sanitizing backup from our carry-on more than we ever did before.
Itching to travel but nervous about the germs in those highly trafficked spaces? Travel-friendly hygiene accessories can help banish bacteria and viruses from your trip. Vacation planning now calls for these germ-killing essentials that can give you peace of mind wherever you go, from outdoor adventures to hotel-room stays. Here are the smartest travel-hygiene products to consider for a cleaner, more relaxing vacation.
1. To wash your hands anywhere: Hand-soap sheets
There are things we’ve all done on previous travels that I cringe to picture myself ever doing again, and perhaps the biggest among them is shrugging off a grungy public bathroom’s lack of hand soap. Public, high-traffic restrooms are breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses like the one that causes Covid-19, and studies show that hand sanitizer is not a one-to-one replacement for scrubbing with hot water and soap for 20 seconds.
Luckily, hand-soap sheets like FOMIN easily fit into any bag to ensure you never have to skip a thorough hand scrubbing at a rest stop or understocked bathroom again. They come in a variety of scents or an unscented version, and are made from plant extracts that are safe for all skin types. Each pack stashes 100 sheets into a tiny, biodegradable sleeve, making them a low-waste solution to those tiny plastic bottles of hand sanitizer.
2. To keep wayward germs from your smile: A toothbrush sanitizer
It goes without saying that anything going in your mouth daily should be protected from grimy environments like hotel countertops and the inside of your carry-on bag, but simply stashing a wet toothbrush inside a case can create a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Instead, invest in a UV-sterilizing toothbrush cover like Wagner Switzerland’s deep toothbrush sanitizer, which uses an enclosed UV light to eliminate germs. The rechargeable sterilizer packs 28 six-minute sterilization cycles into one charge, and is compatible with all brush heads.
The recommended sterilization frequency is once every three days. Wagner’s sanitizer uses UV-C rays that are proven to neutralize mold and pathogens. Because UV light, just like the UV rays from the sun, can be harmful to skin and eye cells, they’re best administered in an enclosed space where you can’t accidentally expose yourself to the harsh light.
3. For vacations far from indoor plumbing: A portable bidet
Hear me out. If you haven’t already given into the at-home bidet craze that ensued after 2020’s toilet-paper shortages, consider a more portable version that could help you avoid public bathrooms completely on outdoor travels like camping, hiking, and RV trips.
Home bidet manufacturer Tushy has created a portable bidet for socially distant situations where you might want to go toilet-paper-free and avoid germy wiping altogether. The collapsible bottle has a hinged nozzle for a concentrated stream, and holds up to 11 ounces of water. When empty it weighs just five ounces, and is attached to a handy carabiner that allows it to hook onto even the most over-packed camping bags.
Flying commercial is one of the most crowded parts of travel, and the upholstered seats can play host to germs from those who sat in them before you. Packing plane-seat covers can give you some peace of mind by putting a barrier between you and anything the passenger before you might have left behind, and they’re one-time-use and recyclable.
5. For unfamiliar atmospheres: A portable air purifier
Knowing that viruses like Covid-19 can be airborne, how often do you find yourself questioning the contents of the air around you? In unfamiliar spaces like hotel rooms, it can be an anxiety-inducing concern. Enter the HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) purifier, which can weed out air impurities like pollen, dust, smoke, and mold for a cleaner-smelling and -feeling space. Small, portable versions of powerful air filters like the Wynd Essential Smart Personal Air Purifier are a worthwhile investment for at home and on the road if you’re concerned about air impurities or suffer from respiratory problems like asthma. They’re especially helpful in big cities, where air pollution could impact your trip.
Wynd’s personal air purifier is a powerful air filter than can fit in your suitcase. It’s a portable version of the at-home Wynd that ranked third on our list of the best air purifiers for its high-tech smart features that pair with your smartphone, and for its highly effective filtering abilities.
6. For easy access to sanitizer: Sanitizer holders for every bag
While hand washing is more ideal than hand sanitizer, when you can’t get to a bathroom for the 20-second wash, hand-sanitizer holders attached to your travel bags (with sanitizer inside) are still a good backup. There are stylish options for every carry-on, backpack, and purse to help de-germ your hands every step of the journey, from TSA checkpoints to buckling in on the plane.
7. To wipe down any surface, anywhere: Unscented alcohol wipes
Beyond detoxing your hands with alcohol-based sanitizer, you should also have some alcohol-based wipes on hand for high-traffic areas like your plane seat. Unscented ones won’t disturb passengers around you, and can assure you that your arm rests, tray table, and seatbelt buckle have all been cleaned between uses.
8. To avoid a grimy nozzle: A self-cleaning water bottle
Another travel scenario I cringe to think about post-Covid is the loose water-bottle nozzle, which can expose you to germs picked up on public transit, at the gym, and on the plane. Making the switch to a self-cleaning water bottle with an enclosed drinking spout like Larq ensures your mouthpiece stays clean, and an internal UV-C light ensures your water is neutralized of 99.9% of bacteria and viruses. Larq’s double-walled design can also keep your drink cold for up to 12 hours, and ensures you’re not wastefully using plastic water bottles that will end up in a landfill.
9. To keep your phone from bringing back any surprises: A UV sanitizer for post-trip cleanses
Traveling exposes you and all your stuff to a lot of other people, as well as high-traffic spaces rife with germs. This can make high-touch items that you tote around magnets for germs; in fact, some studies suggest your phone, which many people are always on and holding to their faces, can be more germ-ridden than a toilet seat.
After a trip, consider cleansing all your high-touch items from the journey with a powerful at-home sanitizer like PhoneSoap 3.0, a UV sanitizer that’s safe for use on electronics. The sanitizer performed well in Reviewed’s testing of phone sanitizers, cleansing bacteria from microscope slides of the phone after use. Similar UV sanitizers with more space are perfect for items like baby pacifiers, makeup tools, and household items like TV remotes and kitchen tools.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.