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How to ward off coronavirus in your hotel room

Feb. 28, 2020
5 min read
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As the novel strain of coronavirus that causes the severe respiratory disease known at COVID-19, continues to spread around the globe, the travel industry is taking some serious hits.

Airlines are cancelling services and offering flexible cancellations: major world celebrations and gatherings have been cancelled, and some countries have even closed their borders. Travelers are fearful about traveling and are taking measures into their own hands to prevent infection -- including cleaning their own hotel rooms.

Related: Complete guide to traveling during the deadly coronavirus outbreak

The CDC reports that COVID-19 is most commonly contracted through human-to-human contact.

TPG asked Kelly A. Reynolds, a professor and environmental microbiologist at the University of Arizona what precautions travelers should take and whether hotel rooms should be a concern during this outbreak.

"Respiratory agents, including cold and flu viruses, can persist on surfaces for hours to days. Since it’s impossible to know if the person who stayed in the same room before you harbored an illness, it’s best to be proactive with wiping down surfaces with a disinfecting wipe and increasing your hand hygiene practice." says Reynolds.

Here’s what you should do to stay healthy on the road:

Head straight to the sink

The CDC reccomends washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. (Photo by Jay Yuno/Getty Images)
The CDC recommends washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. (Photo by Jay Yuno/Getty Images)

Wash your hands. Prior to entering your room, you probably touched doorknobs, elevator buttons and maybe even took public transit. All of these touch points are places where germs may linger.

"Hand washing remains your best defense for infection prevention. Remember to pack your own disinfecting wipes. I often bring my own pillow too, since hotel pillows could be full of allergens and residual saliva," says Reynolds.

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Related: How to tell if you're staying in a dirty hotel room

Get out the wipes

Clorox To Go travel disinfecting wipes kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, including staph, E. coli, MRSA, salmonella, strep and Kleb. (Photo by AlexandrVedmed/Getty Images)
Clorox To Go travel disinfecting wipes kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. (Photo by AlexandrVedmed/Getty Images)

Your hotel room should be clean and tidy upon arrival, but that doesn't mean the housekeepers did a deep clean of all the surfaces. To be safe, get out your Clorox To Go wipes and focus on disinfecting the surfaces that are known for being the germiest, such as the remote control, light switches, bedside lamp switches, the alarm clock, the phone, the bathroom sink — essentially any surface that is frequently touched.

Related: How to thoroughly disinfect your airplane seat

Ditch the comforter

(Photo by Inti St Clair/Getty Images)
(Photo by Inti St Clair/Getty Images)

If you thought the comforter was safe because linens are changed between guests, think again. Comforters are typically washed on occasion, but rarely between guests. Various reports suggest that hotel comforters may only be washed four times a year. When you start to think of all the things people may put on their bed, like a suitcase for instance, you really start to question the cleanliness.

"Many hotel comforters are not designed for routine washing or the use of disinfectants in the wash. I recommend travelers remove the comforter to avoid potential contact with lingering bodily fluids that can harbor germs." advises Reynolds.

If you're the type of person who gets chilly, pack some cozy pajamas for your hotel stay.

Bottom line

In general, coronavirus is believed to be most commonly transmitted via human-to-human contact. There's certainly the chance of contracting the virus through contact with contaminated surfaces, but according to the CDC, this is "not thought to be the main way the virus spreads."

Related: Myth-busting: Will a face mask keep you safe from viruses?

However, Reynolds says, "Our studies [at the University of Arizona] show that housekeeping may not be using proper disinfectant products or disposable cleaning tools. Reusable sponges and mops can spread contaminants to multiple rooms."

There's no harm in giving your hotel room an extra round of cleaning. To keep yourself safe during this outbreak, remember to be diligent about washing your hands and cleaning potentially contaminated surfaces. These are the best precautions you can take.

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Featured image by (Photo courtesy of AC Hotel Park City)

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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
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Intro offer

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Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023