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Tired? Thirsty? Need a drink of water? Well before you take a sip from that glass by the sink, you might want to wash it out. Hotel housekeeping staffs are worked hard, and unfortunately for us, sometimes they take shortcuts. As was frighteningly revealed in a recent Atlanta Fox News expose, some hotel maids don't even bother to use soap when "cleaning" drinking glasses.
Protect Yourself: Don't drink from glassware in your hotel room. Instead ask for sealed, plastic glasses at the concierge desk or go with bottled water.
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Most hotel rooms don't have ample seating, so life revolves around the bed, the largest surface in your average hotel room. Sitting, eating, jumping, and any number of-ahem-intimate activities can take place on top of the bedspread. Some parents even change diapers on the beds. So before you snuggle up to a throw pillow on the bed, beware.
Protect Yourself: Before you book, check reviews for reports of cleanliness on TripAdvisor.com or infestations at BedbugRegistry.com. When you arrive in your room, pull off throw pillows and comforters and set them aside. Then check the room, bed and especially mattress seams for critters and signs of their excrement (small red or brown dots).
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Unless you travel with a personal assistant or you permanently wear gloves, there's no way to avoid flipping on a light switch. The bad news is that only the most conscientious maids would think to clean the light switch, or the other most-touched elements in a hotel room: the door knob, remote control, alarm clock, lamps and toilet handle. Hopefully they've cleaned the sink faucets, but you can't be sure.
Protect Yourself: Bring disinfecting wipes such as Clorox or Lysol and give the room a once-over. Treat your hotel room as if it's a public bus: Wash your hands frequently.
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Usually travelers worry about unfiltered water in foreign countries, but there is such a thing as water that has been "too" purified. On December 14th, CBS News reported that three guests of the EPIC hotel in Miami had come down with Legionnaire's disease (one later died from the infection). It turns out the hotel's high powered water purification system was filtering out chlorine from the city water supply, which allowed bacteria to grow. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 8,000 and 18,000 people are infected with the bacterial, Legionnaire's disease each year. It's spread through contaminated water vapors.
Protect Yourself: Don't trust the water supply. Drink bottled water; it's the only way to know exactly what water you're getting.
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Dirty Secret #5: The coffee maker and ice bucket have been around.
Think twice before you brew coffee or store ice-you never know what the visitor before you did with those common hotel-room amenities. Associated Press reports a hotel manager found all sorts of things, including cigarette butts, vomit and urine, hidden in coffee makers and ice buckets.
Protect Yourself: If you use the coffee maker be sure to clean the pot and filter portion thoroughly with hot water and soap. The same goes for the ice bucket, and if the hotel offers plastic liners, all the better (but don't make that a substitute for cleaning the bucket itself).