What’s worse than getting sick while traveling?
Whether you’re flying for business or pleasure, being ill can ruin a trip.
Having traveled internationally for more than 25 years, I’ve picked up several tips to help increase your chances of staying healthy when traveling by air:
- Choose a window seat if possible. This can reduce your exposure to other passengers walking by in the aisle.
- Carry a travel pack of disinfectant wipes to wipe down surfaces such as armrests, the seat belt buckle, video screen and – most important – the tray table.
- Wash your hands regularly. Airports and airplanes are high-traffic areas with many surfaces touched by numerous people. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently or use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Stay hydrated. Airplane cabins have low humidity levels, which can lead to dehydration. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your flight. Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol, which can further dehydrate you.
- Keep your nasal passages moist. Use saline nose spray throughout the flight, as the dry cabin air can irritate your nasal passages, making them susceptible to germs.
- Moisturize. The dry cabin air doesn’t just affect your nasal passages. Use a hand lotion and lip balm to keep your skin moist – cracks in skin especially on your lips can let in germs.
- Consider immunity-boosting supplements. Speak with your healthcare provider about the suitability of supplements such as vitamin C, which may help support your immune system.
- Put your belongings in the overhead bin when possible. Storing your bag on the ground underneath the seat in front of you exposes you to more germs, as it’s an area that’s been touched by passengers’ shoes.
- Turn on your air vent. Airplanes use HEPA air filters that make the air cleaner than you might expect. Make sure you wipe down the vent handle/dial before using it. Turning on the air vent may make your flight a bit chillier, but that can be remedied by using your own travel blanket to warm up.
- Rest. This is easier said than done, especially on an airplane. Noise cancelling headphones and an eye mask can help you to get some shut eye.
While these tips can help reduce the risk of exposure to germs during air travel, they don’t guarantee complete protection. Stay up to date on travel guidelines both at your departure and arrival locations and follow any recommendations from your health care provider and health authorities.