7 Ways to Avoid Catching a Cold or Flu When Flying

Customer service representative and customer

When flying for business or vacation, do you worry about catching a cold or flu from other travelers? Viruses and germs are everywhere, and it’s difficult to disinfect the entire airport and plane by yourself. So here are seven ways to avoid catching a cold or flu when flying.

  1. Get plenty of rest – Before taking a work trip or vacation, you probably work hard to complete projects, drop off pets at the sitter, pack luggage and take care of things at home. By the time you reach the airport, you’re exhausted and stressed, which can lower the body’s natural ability to fight viruses. So before your scheduled trip, get a good night’s sleep.
  2. Pack healthy snacks and food – Airport restaurants and vendors offer an assortment of menu items. Often these foods contain unhealthy amounts of sugar, salt, trans fat, preservatives, unhealthy oil, and additives, which can make you feel bloated and cause an upset stomach. Medical experts report that these foods also can undermine your immune system, increasing susceptibility to viruses and bacteria. Instead of dining at the airport, pack a healthy sandwich at home using your own bread and meats, along with some snacks, such as organic pretzels, crackers, nuts, apples, celery and carrots.
  3. Stay hydrated – Before traveling, drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. At the airport and during the flight, drink pure water and avoid ice cubes, tea, and coffee made with contaminated water. Alcoholic beverages contribute to dehydration, so drink minimal amounts.
  4. Keep nasal passages moist – If you have dry nasal passages and sinuses, you have a higher risk of developing a bacterial infection. Bring along a small bottle of saline mist to keep nasal tissues moist.
  5. Stay away from people – While traveling, try to keep away from people who are coughing and sneezing. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. Carry a small bottle of sanitizer to use when you can’t wash your hands. Bring a packet of sanitizer wipes on the plane to clean the tray table, headrest and arm rests, overhead light and air vent dial. If using the airplane restroom, wipe down the handles and surfaces where germs can gather. Before heading back to your seat, wash your hands with soap and water.
  6. Use the air vent – It’s commonly believed that airplane air is contaminated. But most airplanes now use a combination of fresh air, which is germ-free at high altitudes, with recirculated air that is filtered through HEPA filters before re-entering the plane. Travel experts recommend that before sitting in your seat, open the air vent and set the dial, so the air blows germs away from you.
  7. Move around – On long flights, get up periodically to walk around to stretch your muscles. This movement will improve oxygen and blood flow throughout the body and help protect your immune system from viruses.

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