Frequent air travelers are acutely aware of how unhealthy the cabin of an aircraft can be. You are traveling with plenty of other passengers, some of whom may be sick. The interiors are not scrubbed down between flights, as they have quick turnarounds. Everything has been touched by multiple people, and bacteria/viruses can be lurking on all surfaces.
What can you do to avoid getting sick after having traveled by air? While you can’t avoid being exposed to germs, you can take some measures to lessen the chances of getting sick. Here are five tips:
- Take Vitamins and Minerals: A few days before flying, it is a good idea to boost your immune system with higher than usual doses of vitamins and minerals. An easy way to do this is to add a pre-measured packet of vitamin C and electrolyte minerals into your water bottle and sip it throughout the day. You can do this while traveling and when you get home as well to be extra cautious.
- Hydrate: The air inside the cabin is exceptionally dehydrating because there is very little humidity at higher elevations and in pressurized oxygen. This condition can quickly dry up your protective mucosal membranes. Noses, throats, and lungs are lined with mucous to help protect them from opportunistic bacteria. One way to keep your airways moist and body hydrated is to drink copious amounts of filtered water before and during a flight. You can always purchase a couple of bottles of water near the gate before boarding.
- Pack Anti-Bacterial Wipes & Hand sanitizers: Sanitary wipes can be used to clean just about any surface. As soon as you are on the plane, wipe down the handle on the overhead compartment, the safety card and magazine in the front seat pocket, the tray, and the armrests. If you can’t avoid using the bathroom, especially on long flights, wipe down the toilet and faucets. Always try your best to avoid touching surfaces with bare hands, such as using a napkin to open the bathroom door. Airplane bathrooms are very germy. You can also use the wipes to sanitize surfaces in your hotel room or rental unit. Hand sanitizers are a terrific way to lessen the exposure we all face to germs. But nothing beats regular hand washing.
- Carry a Neck Pillow: Those curved neck pillows are a great invention. They are comfortable and may help you get some sleep. Sleep and rest are essential for staying healthy. These pillows can keep your head from rubbing up against a potentially dirty widow. As soon as you get home, toss that pillow into the wash to get rid of any germs, and so it is ready for your next trip.
- Use a Personal Air Purifier: A personal air purifier is a small, rechargeable gadget that hangs around your neck. It emits negative ions up to 3 feet around your own space. Negative ions are known to sanitize the air and eliminate airborne bacteria. Alternatively, wear a disposable surgical mask that you can buy for pennies.Surgical-type masks help block airborne influenza germs, and they may also prevent the transmission of germs from your hands to your mouth or nose. However, the best way to prevent influenza is to get your annual influenza vaccination.