Here’s How to Stay Healthy Before, During and After Travel
Most of the time, you can’t control catching a cold, the flu or rhinovirus, but there are some things you can do to stay well on your next trip.
Before you leave
Although research isn’t quite yet conclusive on supplements’ power to prevent cold and flu, it doesn’t hurt to take them leading up to your trip. Popular options include Emergen-C, Airborne, or probiotics to improve your gut health.
Rest is a key ingredient in boosting your immunity as well. Research has shown that insufficient sleep can increase your risk of catching a cold or flu. Even though you may have to put in some extra hours at work or school before you leave, make time to get plenty of sleep in the week or several weeks before you leave.
When you’re packing your carry-on bag, make sure you throw in a TSA-friendly bottle of hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, a travel neck pillow, and a coat or shawl you can use as a blanket. These will ensure your hands are clean, your seat and tray table on the plane are disinfected, and you’re warm and comfortable no matter how long your flight is.
If you typically wear contact lenses, consider wearing your glasses during your flight – air on planes is notoriously dry and contact lenses can dry your eyes out, making them vulnerable to microbial invaders.
And, lastly, make sure you’re wearing socks before you head to the airport – this can lower the chances of you picking up something on your feet when you go through airport security.
At the airport
Use that hand sanitizer you packed in your carry-on early and often, especially after touching germy hot spots, such as security line bins, the ticket kiosks, ATM, door handles, vending machines and anything else you suspect have been touched by a lot of people. In the event that you can’t sanitize or wash your hands right away, be careful to keep your hands away from your face, nose or mouth.
When nature calls in the airport, keep in mind how many people use those bathrooms and leave their germs behind. Don’t put your bags on the floor or your purse or other bags on the counter – if you don’t have a choice, wipe them down with your disinfectant wipes after. Avoid touching surfaces as much as you can and be sure to wash your hands for a full 20 seconds – and use your paper towel to open the bathroom door when you leave.
See or hear a person coughing, sneezing or who simply looks sick? Stay at least six feet away from them – that’s the distance virus-filled droplets can travel when they’re exhaled by a sick person and land in your nose or eyes, ending up in your respiratory system.
Boarding the plane
Have your disinfecting wipes handy as you board the plane to wipe down your seat, including the head rest, seat belt, arm rests, window shade, and tray table. Use your own blanket and pillow to get comfy and use your carry-on for storage instead of the backseat pocket.
After disinfecting your overhead air vent, point it down so the air flows vertically in front of your face – this can help divert potentially infectious droplets away from your face. And use your hand sanitizer throughout your flight, including after stowing luggage in the overhead bin, looking at the inflight magazines and after using the bathroom.
Make sure you follow these precautions when you get to your destination, especially if you’re using public transportation and taxis. When you go out to eat, visit a museum or tourist site, and return home on a plane, making sure you keep your hands and belongings germ-free and keep your space from sick individuals can help you thoroughly enjoy your trip by preventing sickness.