Travel Tools for Germaphobes

Forget the stress of worrying about unsanitary conditions during your next vacation with these handy tools to help keep your travel happy and healthy.


I find people are of two minds about germs. I’m a firm believer that a little dirt is good for strengthening the immune system, and that when abused, antibacterial products do more harm than good. My regular travel companion, however, sees germs as enemy combatants—negotiation is tantamount to surrender. Being a sciency-type, he tends to shut down arguments against his (over)use of Purell with an indisputable, “I took microbiology,” and a shudder.

He also gets sick every time he takes a trip. The result of a constitution compromised by stress over what nasty bugs are passing around? Perhaps, but I can’t deny that there are aspects of the travel process that even skeeve me out—the shoeless walk through security, the roadside bathroom and the bedsheets at the budget hotel. And this time of year, it’s hard to find a flight or train cabin that won’t have met its quota for passengers with phlegmy coughs.

Certainly there are places that call for more protection than a pack of Emergen-C. Here are five travel germ prevention products that claim to guard against the ills of the world.

Travel Toothbrush Sanitizer

I never know what to do with my toothbrush while I’m traveling—those plastic travel cases never ventilate properly, but setting it down on strange countertops also seems like a recipe for disgusting. Violight’s toothbrush holders boast an internal UV light that will kill 99.9 percent of germs, but I also like the sleek, intelligent design of the Travel Toothbrush Sanitizer ($29.95), which includes a removable drip tray for easy cleanup and suction cups, so it can be stuck anywhere. This set comes with a new toothbrush, but will also fit standard brushes and even most electric ones (Sonicare users, however, are out of luck).

Cocoon Travel Sheets

Even after outgrowing the hostel circuit, it can be hard to get comfortable with strange beds. Design Salt’s travel sheet sets offer the best in clean travel—the assurance of knowing who slept there last. The travel sheets are also a good option for people whose sensitive skin reacts to the harsh chemicals many hotels use for laundry. An Egyptian cotton set ($36) is lightweight and packable, with a pillow sleeve and a stuff sack. Upgrade to the Silk/SeaCell set ($75), which blends seaweed and microbe-busting silver ions with silk and cotton. They even have models fit for kids (starting at $19). 

CleanWell Hand Sanitizer

It’s a fact of travel—sometimes you want to wash up when there just isn’t a sink handy. But those bottles of hand sanitizer for germ prevention have become so ubiquitous for skin-drying alcohol and a mix of chemicals and fragrances that make me feel another kind of unclean. The recently launched line of biodegradable and alcohol-free CleanWell products use Ingenium, a mix of sustainably sourced plant oils (thyme is the main antiseptic ingredient) that kill germs without using synthetics. The CleanWell Hand Sanitizer Pack ($16.99) includes one six-ounce spray bottle, two pocket-sized one-ounce spray bottles, and two packs of hand wipes. 

Footprint Bamboo Socks

Bamboo fabrics have gained some traction for being renewable, breathable and antibacterial—which makes bamboo socks ideal for following in the footsteps of all those sweaty soles who walked through security ahead of you at the airport. Footprint’s unisex Performance socks ($14.99) are 95 percent bamboo (the rest is nylon for stretchiness) with extra arch support and reinforced toes and heels. Plus, they’re made in Pennsylvania, which sure knocks the socks off anything from Adidas

Plane Clean Air Filter

Contrary to a common complaint, it’s not the air from the overhead blower that makes you sick when you fly—nearly all planes are outfitted with HEPA air filters—it’s the air inside the cabin that does you in, and the sick people breathing it. When attached to the overhead nozzle, the Plane Clean Air Filter ($19.95) blows a “curtain” of extra-filtered air around you that supposedly blocks 99.5 percent of airborne germs being broadcast by your sneezing seatmates. Whether it helps or whether it just makes you feel like you have more control over your environment on that next eight-hour flight, the benefits may be worth the small expense. 

User Comments

Nozin works wonders A comment from @ajgreenb (on Twitter) You should this product called Nozin - it works wonders. I use it every time i fly and never get sick

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