Does it seem like you always get sick when you travel? You aren't alone.
The Wall Street Journal cited a study that found an increased risk of catching a cold on a flight by as high as 20%, while another study in the Journal of Environmental Health Research found that colds may be 113 times more likely to be transmitted on a plane than during normal daily life on the ground.
To keep you healthy when you fly we have created a list of our best tips.
1. Avoid in-flight magazines, the setback pocket, blankets, and pillows.
These are touched by almost everyone, are rarely disinfected and are the ideal breeding ground for germs.
If you can, bring on your own reading materials, blankets and pillows. If you can't, only accept those provided in a sealed plastic bag. Avoid using the seat back pocket...people use this to store all sorts of items, dirty tissues and even to rest their bare feet on.
2. Drink water throughout the flight
Sipping water regularly throughout the flight will not only assist with the dehydrating effects of air travel, (which can cause headaches, stomach problems, cramps, fatigue, and more) but will also improve the function of your immune system..don't go overboard though, because next we are advising you to...
3. Avoid the bathroom
If it’s a short flight, make sure you go to the bathroom before your flight takes off. With so many people sharing the plane's bathroom, there are significant germs on sinks, flush buttons, door locks and on the toilet seats.
If you really need to go, use paper towels when you touch all of the surfaces in the bathroom...especially the latch on the way out!
You may wash your hands after using the toilet, but can you be sure that every other passenger has done the same? I even recommend using hand sanitiser when you get back to your seat, just to be safe!
4. Wipe down your tray table, armrest, overhead air vent, seatbelt buckle and seat
You may think that bathrooms are the area on the plane that host the most germs, but think again!
According to a study by Travelmath, tray tables contain 8 x the amount of germs than the toilet flush button. Bathrooms are cleaned between flights, tray tables are not!
If you need to use the tray table, use disinfectant wipes to throughly clean the surface. If you are travelling with kids, invest in a washable portable travel tray.
Kooshy Kids Travel Tray - avoids the tray table being touched by kids and stops them from eating food directly from the very unhygienic surface.
5. Keep your hands clean
Your hands are the most consistent point of first contact with cold, flu, and other germs on planes and elsewhere. Viruses that cause colds and flu can survive for hours on your skin or on solid objects and surfaces.
The simple act of washing your hands with hot water and soap is sufficient to prevent the transfer of germs. If possible, wash your hands before any in-flight meals, and after your flight as well. Keep in mind that the water on planes isn’t always readily accessible, so you should always have some hand sanitiser handy.
Also try to keep your hands away from your face. Even if your hands have touched the dirtiest of surfaces, you won’t get sick from that unless you bring those germs to a point of entry such as your nose or mouth.
6. Rest well, especially if you have a long flight
We all know that sleep is good for our overall health. To assist with getting in a good sleep on the plane, try to make yourself as comfortable as possible by wearing comfy clothes, bringing an eye mask and using an in-flight sleep device.
The Kooshy Kloud helps you to get comfortable on flights
7. Take vitamins and immune boosters
Vitamins boost your immune system and improve your body's ability to fight off airborne germs. It's a good idea to begin taking these in the weeks leading up to your flight, so that your immune system is strong and ready to take on whatever germs it may be exposed to.
8. Use a nasal mist
Nasal mists have been found to be very effective in washing away airborne pathogens, dust and other pollutants and they also prevent the nose from drying up.
Other options for keeping your mucous membranes moist include, misting your face and breathing through a damp face washer.
9. Use your overhead air vent
Whilst the air can be quite cool and the sound a bit noisy, the overhead air vents are a great way to keep the air flowing and to steer germs away from your face. (Angle the flow of air so you can feel it on your hands when they’re in your lap). Regardless of the temperature, I always pack a cardigan so that I don't get cold from the overhead vent and can keep the air flowing.
10. Choose the window seat
Avoiding germs might be as easy as choosing the window seat. Here you are less exposed to people, as you will leave your seat less often than those on the aisle. Passers by can be coughing, sneezing and spreading germs, so people sitting in the aisle seat are most at risk of exposure.
I hope that you find this list of tips useful for your future flights.
In preparation for a flight, get your kids (and other family members) in the habit of washing their hands regularly. Encourage them to always wash with warm water and soap after using the toilet, before eating meals, after touching pets, playing outside etc. They should wash their hands for the same amount of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday...get them to sing out loud so that you know they are doing it!
For you....try to be conscious of the amount of times that you touch your face and try to break the habit before your next trip.
Lastly, be sure to stock up on vitamins, nasal spray, hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes before your next flight.