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In praise of dirty weekends away

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Next time you're surrounded by large and sweaty American tourists while trying to appreciate the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris or fighting against the crowds to get a view of the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge in Venice, it may be a good idea to sneeze as much as possible.

After all, a new study has just found that cleanliness and the existence of germs are not only a mild irritation to travellers but are the number one concern for a large proportion of people heading abroad on holiday.

Of the 2,500 travellers from around the world questioned by Trip Advisor, eight out of ten said that they were concerned about germs, bacteria and viruses when travelling.

More than a quarter of those polled said they had major reservations about the cleanliness of aeroplanes, while 55 per cent admitted to washing their hands more often when they are on their holidays in comparison to when they are at home.

As well as this, a large number strain their arms and their wallet through their insistence on taking their own cleaning supplies, towels, sheets and 'shower shoes' with them whenever they go on holiday, which I guess must not happen very often.

Indeed, it's difficult to see how anyone can get any enjoyment out of their well-earned break away when, instead of settling down to watch a bad in-flight movie, they are instead giving their seat a wipe down and turning their noses up at the food provided.

Holidays are supposed to be a time to forget all about the stresses and strains of everyday life and just relax and, while a bit of common sense should always be exercised, this includes worrying about how dirty a place city is or who used a hotel shower before you.

It's getting worse, too, as any trip round one of London's museums will confirm.

Alongside the annoying schoolchildren you will find party loads of tourists wearing face masks, while growing numbers of Brits abroad are shunning the local delicacies in favour of the 'safe option' found at global fast food chains or Irish pubs.

Speaking from experience, once you let go and throw caution to the wind, travelling becomes far more enjoyable and ultimately rewarding rather than simply being an arduous task.

Some of the best bars in the world don't have furniture so clean you can see your face in it but have a rough around the edges kind of charm.

Likewise, across Latin America and Asia the best culinary experiences are not to be found in the neon-lit Western establishments with familiar menus but at the side of the roads, regardless of whether or not the proprietor has taken a basic food hygiene course.

What's the point in travelling if you don't take a few risks?

Just take out some travel insurance and leave your worries at the airport; you'll have a better time for it.


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