Airplanes: great for travel, not so great for health. Germs are everywhere, and rarely do airplanes get the full wash between flights—just think of all the connections that occur within minutes. You can take your daily vitamins and Emergen-C, but there’s more to preserving your health than supplements. From the time you reach your gate to the time you reach the terminal, there are plenty of ways to put up a personal shield to ward off sickness.
With being miles high comes dry air. But staying hydrated throughout the flight—meaning spurts of drinking, rather than a full water bottle pre-flight—can help your immune system fight any bugs in the air.
Sleep Well Before
Everyone has experienced burn-out, and that lack of sleep, plus stress, makes you all the more likely to catch something. Make sure to get plenty of sleep the night before, if not the week prior. If you still can’t factor in eight hours, try to get some shut-eye on the flight. Earplugs and a sleep mask may be indicated.
Take the Window Seat
Yes, it can be inconvenient on a long flight when you need bathroom breaks. But being on the aisle means sick passengers walk by you more often, and the middle seat invites germs from both sides of you.
Once you reach your seat, begin a full wipe-down of your area, from the headrest to the seat buckle to the tray table. Sanitation is your friend. It may make you look paranoid to others, but who’s really winning the sick-game here?
Refuse the Blanket…Unless
Surprise: Blankets aren’t getting washed—unless you’re handed one in a sealed plastic bag. And if you’re unlucky, the blanket you’re handed will have been used on the flight before by someone who had a cold. If you think you’ll be chilly, pack an airplane blanket in your carry-on (they’re available online) and wear a jacket.
Wash Your Hands—Often
And use soap! Sing the happy-birthday song twice, and make sure you’re scrubbing under your fingernails, too. If you can’t wash your hands—though, ahem, there are bathrooms around departure gates and even near the cheap seats—layer on the hand sanitizer.
Wear a Mask (Boo!)
If you’re truly susceptible to getting sick, wearing a mask may help prevent airborne bacteria from reaching you. Take breaks if it gets to be too hot after a while, but blocking some airborne nasties is better than blocking none.