5 Ways To Protect Yourself from the Flu while Flying
As the holidays approach, so does cold and flu season. If you’re one of the thousands getting ready to hop on a plane to visit family or take a vacation for the holidays, it’s time to start protecting yourself from the germs that you’ll inevitably encounter.
Tips to Stay Healthy During Flu Season
- Know before you go. Most are aware of the increased exposure to germs and risk of getting sick on an airplane due to breathing re-circulating air (See: Air Travel Safety Tips). This risk increases during holiday travel as more people are on the go, flu season are in full force, and passengers are less likely to cancel travel plans due to illness. The first step is to be aware of this risk, and do what you can to protect yourself before you board the plane. Consider getting an influenza vaccine and stock up on Vitamin C. You’re more likely to fly without getting sick if you board the plane healthy and with a strong immune system.
- Wash your hands. We’ve been taught the importance of washing our hands since elementary school, but so many forget how important this simple task can be in avoiding that nasty cold or flu. At the airport and on the plane, be conscious of what you touch. Bring a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to use when soap and water aren’t accessible. If you notice nearby passengers are ill, make it a point to wash your hands more frequently.
- Drink water. Planes and trains are also notorious for dehydrating us. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol on your flight might mean the difference between a holiday spent enjoying the company of family or being quarantined to your bedroom. It’s also a good idea to buy or bring a larger water bottle on the plane. Those tiny plastic cups just don’t cut it. If you find the cold weather isn’t too inviting for your water intake, increase your tea consumption to stay hydrated and warm.
- Take precautions as you fly. If you’re prone to infections or colds, or your immune system is not at full strength, it’s not a bad idea to wear a facemask when you fly. Also, everyone should wipe down the tray table in front of them. Before you eat, sleep, or work on the tray table, clean it with an alcohol-based cleaning cloth. If you don’t have one, you can simply use a tissue and your hand sanitizer. Taking immune system supplements and vitamins (like Airborne or Emergen-C) is strongly encouraged before, during, and after flying to help fight off anything you might come into contact with while traveling.
- If you do get sick, know where to go. If you end up getting the sniffles over flu season, make sure you know where to see a doctor when you’re traveling. Too many travelers end up waiting to treat illnesses and prolong discomfort or increase the risk of more serious conditions. Being proactive and preventative during flu season is vital to your health and the health of those around you. Be sure to also check your travel medical insurance coverage, and make sure to bring your insurance card or policy with you for your doctor visit.
While flying during the flu season can be risky, it’s certainly possible to avoid getting sick, especially if you keep these five air travel tips in mind. However, remember that airplanes aren’t the only place you have a high risk of infectious germs over the holidays. You should also take precautions in airports, shopping malls, grocery stores, markets, etc., where there are higher than average amounts of people are congregating and passing through. Stay healthy and happy holidays!