How to Stay Healthy on an Airplane
Whether you are flying down south to escape a northern winter or flying across the world on a trip of a lifetime, there is nothing worse than getting sick once you arrive at your destination. Time and time again you hear stories of people coming in contact with a serious illness or disease simply from sharing a flight with someone who was infected. Luckily, some steps can be taken to keep yourself – and those around you – healthy on an airplane.
Sleep Well and Get Plenty of Rest
Staying healthy while traveling begins while you are still at home. Getting a good nights sleep the night before your flight will help keep your immune system strong and ready to fight off viruses and germs.
Wash Your hands
This may seem like a common sense approach to staying healthy, but you would be surprised at the number of people who do not wash their hands after using the restroom. Even if you haven’t used the restroom if you are prone to resting your head on your hands or touch your face a lot you should make it a habit of washing your hands regularly. Similarly, wash your hands immediately before you eat or handle food or drink.
Carry Travel Sized Antibacterial Hand Cleanser or Wipes
If getting up to wash your hands every time you eat is not convenient while flying, consider carrying a TSA approved sized bottle of antibacterial hand cleanser or wipes and kept it within reach for a quick wash. Your hands carry everything from traces of fecal matter to harmful bacteria on them, and by merely touching handles, headrests, and shaking hands, you can easily transfer and digest these microscopic elements.
Wipe Down Your Tray and Armrests
Antibacterial wipes are also convenient for wiping down your seat, seatbelt, tray, armrests and anything else you may touch in your seated area. Make sure to do this as soon as you get on the airplane before everyone settles in for the flight. Wiping down your area will help eliminate your exposure to harmful bacteria, viruses, and germs.
Cover Your Sneeze and Blow Your Nose
If you have no choice but to travel ill, be prepared. If you are entering an airplane with a cold, be considerate to other passengers by sneezing into the crook of your arm and blowing your nose into disposable tissues whenever necessary. Bring a disposable bag with you to safely dispose of used tissues and ensure that you have antibacterial wipes or liquid for your hands and use whenever necessary. Just because you can fight off a cold, doesn’t mean everyone else on the airplane does – nor do they want to! An uncovered sneeze can send germ-infected droplets up to 30 feet away, which is longer than a lot of small aircraft carriers. And while you think covering it with your hands will help prevent the spread of those germs, it is easy to forget to disinfect your hands prior to touching something or someone, so make a habit of sneezing or coughing into your arm, so that when you do touch other things you won’t be spreading your germs.
Drinking lots of water will ensure that the dry air that airplanes are notorious for won’t cause you to become overly thirsty. Keeping your respiratory tract moist will help protect against any ingested germs. It also means that you are better equipped to flush out any viruses your body may already be fighting and will help your skin from getting too dry. It also means that if you are prone to popping eardrums or headaches that you have something on hand to soothe the pain. While it is not permissible to bring liquids through airport security, you can bring an empty reusable water bottle with you and fill it with water once you are on the other side of security. You can also purchase bottled water in the airport, or even request a cup of water once onboard (it’s usually free). Remember to not drink the water on the airplane. Although it may be treated, it is sitting in a tank, and its freshness is not guaranteed. Some airplanes have a warning sticker in the restroom, advising people against drinking the tap water. Your safest bet is to either fill your bottle before boarding (using a water fountain, but don’t put the mouth of your water bottle near the tap itself) or to purchase bottled water.
Stretch Your Legs
Another good reason to drink plenty of water while flying is that it will make you have to use the restroom, which means you will get the opportunity to stretch your legs. Leg clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) are common conditions of air travel. Prolonged periods of immobility combined with cramped legroom increase the risk of these conditions. If you cannot get up to stretch your legs, due to turbulence or otherwise, simple tapping of the feet will work to stimulate movement in your leg muscles. If you feel your legs or feet starting to “fall asleep” then it is time to get moving with simple stretches or a brief walk to the restroom and back.
Only Use Packaged Headphones and Pillows
While the majority of reputable airlines offer clean and packaged blankets, pillows and earbuds (or headphones), never use the airplane blankets or pillows unless they come packaged. If they are not wrapped be sure they are clean looking as well as smell clean. The last thing you want is to snuggle up with a blanket that the previous person used as a tissue.
Ensure Your Vaccinations Are Up To Date
As with all travel, your best defense against life-threatening diseases and serious illness is to be up to date on your vaccinations and to ensure that you have the vaccinations designated for your area of travel.
Invest in Travel Medical Insurance
Even the best-laid plans sometimes don’t work, and despite your efforts to stay healthy on an airplane, you can get sick. If you are traveling outside of your home country, it is important to buy travelers medical insurance to cover yourself against illness. Travel health insurance plans can include access to an emergency assistance medical hotline, trip cancellation coverage, universal Rx pharmacy discount savings, and the ability to find a reputable hospital, doctor or medical facility. Travel medical insurance means that should you get sick while traveling you have access to quality medical care without having to unexpectedly pay a fortune. With a little preparation you can hopefully avoid getting sick from an airplane and will be able to arrive at your destination just as healthy and as germ-free as before you boarded. Also Read:
- How to Stay Healthy While Traveling (CNN)
- Tips for a Healthy Cruise
- Flying During Flu Season
- Travel Warnings, Advisories, and Alerts