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Ideas to Protect Yourself from Coronavirus in Hotels

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Planning to visit a hotel soon but unsure how to stay safe from coronavirus during your stay?

The Travel Insider’s David Rowell authored a 200+ page book entitled “Covid-19: What it is, How to Avoid it, and How to Survive it.” (Available to members of his site.)

He posted on his blog an excerpt entitled “How to Minimize Your Virus Risk in a Hotel.” Below are some of the more salient points I thought you find interesting.

Let’s Clear the Air

“You might think there is not a lot you can control when you’re in a hotel, but you have one very important control point – you can choose the hotel you stay at,” Mr. Rowell writes.

What should concern us?

“The thing you most want to avoid is a hotel that has a central air system, such that air is pumped into your room via ducting from a central heating/cooling service somewhere,” the post says. Why?

“If your air is coming from somewhere else, you get to share in everything and everywhere else in the hotel that is using the same common air system. An infected person three floors away could have their virus aerosol particles sucked into the central air system, and then blown into your room.”

But what if a hotel boasts how great its air filtration is?

“While a hotel might claim to have air filters to protect against that, we would view such claims extremely skeptically.” (I wonder if the same thought goes for airlines? 😉 )

Still, Mr. Rowell says his “perception is that most hotels do not have common shared air systems in the rooms – they are more often found in … hotel public areas, than in hotel bedrooms.”

A room with two beds at the MGM Grand (an MGM Resorts property) on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada. World of Hyatt credit card members can redeem their annual free night to stay at several Las Vegas properties, including the MGM Grand.
MGM Grand in Las Vegas

Check-In

When you pick-up your key, he suggests you ask the front staff when your room was last occupied.

Obviously, the longer the room is vacant gives viruses more time to die. So unless you booked something special (like a sweet suite, if you will), it shouldn’t be too much of a problem to score a room that’s been unoccupied for several days.

Front desk at Delano Las Vegas

Plus, ask if they can stick you in a room as far away from elevators as possible. This reduces traffic past your room door — and others “possibly breathing out virus particles that might then be sucked under the door and into your room by air flows.” (Plus, it alleviates some of the noise from people going in and out of the elevators.) My friend Larry called a hotel yesterday and asked if the property could put him in a room that’s gone unused for a bit. The rep confirmed that she blocked him in a room that will have gone three days since its last occupant.

Another suggestion is to get a room close to the stairs so that you can avoid elevators. I remember hearing that Major League Baseball wanted its teams to use hotel rooms on lower floors so players could more easily take the steps.

Once You Get to Your Room

You are still wearing your mask, right? You may want to keep it on for a while.

“Wear the mask before moving sheets and bedding around, because the act of doing so could dislodge virus particles and get them back up into the air again.” This includes when you gently fold the bedspread and put decorative pillows away somewhere you won’t need them again during your stay.

A remote control is contained in a plastic bag.
Ah, the good old days — when putting your hotel room’s TV remote control in a plastic baggie seemed extreme.

It’s also suggested you bring along some disinfectant to spray the bed sheets, pillows, and, heck, pretty much everything else.

And, of course, keep that “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door and tell the front desk staff you don’t want your room serviced at all during your stay. 

When You Venture Out

Pools, bars, restaurants, gyms, conference areas are common areas you’ll find at many hotels. But you may want to avoid those spaces because of other people using them. The indoor facilities are especially more problematic, as they tend to use central HVAC (which, as we learned a few paragraphs ago, is something to avoid).

Final Approach

Do the recommendations seem a bit much? Maybe.

Frankly, it seems easier to stay at home.

But I’d never given much thought to a hotel’s HVAC until now. And I like the ideas about getting rooms that haven’t been used for a few days (not always possible but worth asking) and far away from elevators.

What’s your take? Please share your thoughts the below Comments section.

 

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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7 Comments

  1. I would bring my own bedsheet, pillow case, some wipes, and an air purifier.

  2. HVAC is the biggest reason I am avoiding cruise ships. Too many common systems.

    A lot of hotels use some form of a PTAC, packaged terminal air conditioning. These generally do heat also, either as a heat pump or electric strips. These come in horizontal, through the wall type, or a vertical unit often in a closet or chase pocket in the corner of the room. They mix outside air with room air. Like the article says, I would avoid any hotel with a common air system.

    We just spent 3 nights at a Hilton in Nashville. It took an hour to spray, wipe, etc. to sanitize the room even though it said the room was sanitized. The room had a kitchenette, but no DW, so we hand washed all the dishes, silverware, etc.

    We used grubhub and doordash for our food and sanitized the packaging it came in.

  3. I have still been staying in hotels and do pretty much all listed above. One additional thing I do is bring a freezer size ziploc bag- I place the remote in the bag With a paper towel and never directly touch it. The remote works fine through the plastic

  4. E C Perkins Reply

    Since summer 2017 I’ve pressed on around the Midwest and Southwest, living in hotels, days to months per stay, depending on destinations and plans (I’m retired, without relatives, with my place rented long-term to friends and my stuff in storage), and I just bring my own disinfectant wipes and go over touch points as often as it occurs to me. Most of the hotels I stay in have individual HVAC units, so the air from those is coming from outside, and I check the filter and get it changed or cleaned as needed (depending on what type it is). When there is central HVAC I keep breathing anyway and hope for the best. The TV remote and radio and other loose objects I can wipe off with the disinfectant wipes whenever I want, so no baggies for me because anyway the baggies would get touched and must then be wiped off too just as often, seems to me. These pandemic days certainly have slowed my wanderings (done mostly rubber side down in rentals but only occasionally flying), but I started out long before this crisis and plan to finish, as (loosely) planned, a few years down the road. For me it’s easy to social distance and mask up, and I’ve washed my hands with soap and water often as long as I can remember back into childhood. Cleaning is one of my former professions, and things do tend to jump out at me therefore, but I see most hotels making extra effort and housekeepers and janitors doing their bests to keep up. But when I see something that appears unsafe, I bring it to the management’s attention directly and quickly. This is the best I can do and it’s going okay to great, so far.

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