Travel concerns: What to know before you go

"Frequent hand washing will reduce your risk dramatically," said Dr. Shoemaker.
"Frequent hand washing will reduce your risk dramatically," said Dr. Shoemaker.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Everyday germs, exotic illnesses, accidents: Would they stop you from taking a trip?

Seasoned travelers like Lane Thomasson say they shouldn't.

From Wyoming, to Italy, and beyond she has seen it all. She's even lived in Europe.

"Experiencing different cultures and attitudes is really a true gift," said Thomasson. "For the most part it's very safe," said Thomasson.

Let's talk about germs first. We went to infectious disease specialist Dr. Matt Shoemaker for advice on travel near and far.

"Start planning early," said Shoemaker.

Let's say you're staying close to the Heartland, and traveling by car. Would you believe a recent study found gas pumps may be the dirtiest surfaces we touch while on the go?

Not far behind: escalator rails, ATM Buttons, parking meters, and crosswalk buttons.

Dr. Shoemaker says the solution is simple.

"Frequent hand washing will reduce your risk dramatically," said Dr. Shoemaker.

If you're not a hand washer, consider this: Dr. Shoemaker says many sicknesses actually start by accidentally swallowing feces that likely somehow came in contact with your hands. He says anti-bacterial soap and sanitizer is key.

As for planes, trains, and automobiles: Did you know it's true you can catch tuberculosis on a plane? Again, Dr. Shoemaker says there's an easy solution.

"Practice good cough hygiene," said Dr. Shoemaker. "Be sure to cough into your elbow and wash your hands."

If you're traveling to under-developed countries like Haiti, or Africa start planning six months in advance.

"See your doctor," said Dr. Shoemaker. "You will need pills and vaccinations. You need to know what diseases are there and what you may be prone to. You should only eat well cooked food that's been washed and peeled. Don't drink the tap water and avoid the ice."

In fact, the beer is safer.

"The alcohol should be ok," said Dr. Shoemaker.

Now this may be the biggest surprise: "Auto-accidents account for 1/4 of deaths in Americans abroad."

We took that stat back to Thomasson, who admits public transportation and foreign drivers in places she's lived like London and Paris can be scary. She says just wear your seat belt.

"It's such a rare occurrence," said Thomasson.

She says she would not give up her adventures for anything, but is always happy to come back to the Heartland.

"There's no place like home.

Dr. Shoemaker recommends checking out for more information.

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