If you have a case of the traveling bone, you probably can’t wait for restrictions to lift so that you can return to your jet-setting lifestyle. However, airplanes are notorious breeding grounds for germs of all kinds, not only the COVID-19 virus. What can you do to prevent illness on your next trek?
Quite a bit. If you are worried about avoiding germs on an airplane, take the following proactive measures to protect yourself. That way, your journey will involve only pleasure — no pain or sniffles.
You wouldn’t sign up for a marathon and then sit on the couch to await race day. Train your body to travel the way you would for competition. At least two weeks before you depart, amp up your diet and exercise regimen. This advice doesn’t necessarily entail getting yourself bikini trim but rather bolstering your immune system with foods high in vitamin C, zinc and other essential nutrients.
Finally, some good news for folks who have a stockpile of cleaning supplies. The TSA does not consider sanitizing wipes to be a liquid, meaning that you can pack them in your carry-on without needing to leave your eye cream at home to make room. Take advantage of this classification because your aircraft might not get thoroughly disinfected between flights. When you board, immediately wipe down any areas frequently touched, including your tray table, buttons on overhead lights and entertainment screens.
Have you sung “Happy Birthday” so often in your head that you feel like Marilyn Monroe stuck on repeat for JFK? Don’t ditch the simplest way to bust germs — washing your hands. If possible, do so before boarding and after exiting your flight. Do so as well as after using the restroom or touching anything questionable. Leave enough time during layovers to breathe and practice proper hygiene.
This advice may sound odd, especially if you typically go all-natural. However, sometimes you need a visual reminder not to touch your face, and a brightly colored polish can do the trick. If you have the unfortunate habit of chewing on your nails when you feel nervous, a polish that has an offensive odor or taste can prevent you from catching a bug while trying to calm your jitters.
While standard surgical masks will not protect you from the COVID-19 virus, they will safeguard fellow travelers if you catch the disease but remain asymptomatic. Additionally, these devices do keep out some microbes, such as fungi. If you have a severely compromised immune system, an N95 mask will filter out most bacteria and viruses, although they can grow uncomfortable during long flights.
Your mucus membranes serve as your first line of defense against germs, but when they get dry, they don’t work as effectively. The arid environment in an airplane can leave you more vulnerable to bugs. However, you can moisten your passages by using a saline-based nasal spray as a lubricant. Stay away from medicated versions, as these contain chemicals that shrink swollen blood vessels. While you may breathe more comfortably, you could inhale a whopping nostril full of pathogens.
Remember that scene in “The Wedding Singer” where a flight attendant bumps Drew Barrymore with the drink cart? You have more to worry about than a bruised elbow if you sit in the aisle seat. Passersby often touch the armrest as they go by, plus you become the sneeze guard if someone gets a tickle before they can cover themselves. For the cleanest flight experience, choose the window seat whenever possible.
Not much air circulates in an aircraft, which means the stuff you breathe can become laden with nasties. While it isn’t an ideal solution, turning on the vent above your seat gives you a bit of a protective bubble. It can blow away germs when other passengers around you sneeze or cough. It’s always a wise idea to dress in layers before your flight to maximize your comfort — plus, you can pull on a sweater if the breeze chills you.
If you secretly suspect that feeling chilly can make you sick, you might be onto something. Recent research indicates that cold feet can make you more susceptible to invading germs. Don a pair of socks before you leave for the airport. You need to remove your shoes to go through security, anyway, and you don’t want to do so barefoot. Plus, with your toes clad in a cozy pair of Sherpa socks, you can almost imagine you are already at your destination, enjoying a comfortable nap in your hammock.
Aircraft can breed veritable germ factories, but you can avoid getting sick when you travel with the right techniques. Use these tips to stay cold and flu-free on your next journey.