Ebola, measles, flu, blood clots and more seem to lurk everywhere. Read the news and you begin to imagine a thousand ways to get sick when sealed in a flying aluminum tube with 300 of your new best friends. Really, though, there is no need for fear and hysteria. Here are nine tips from HI Travel Tales to help you stay healthy when flying and help you arrive for your holiday or business as rested as possible (be sure to read our related story “8 simple ways to stay healthy during travel”):
- Stay hydrated! A lack of humidity in a pressurized cabin will dry out your mucous membranes making it harder for your system to ward off germs and also making you feel more fatigued. Buy a bottle of water before you board or, do like the HI Travel Tales team does, pack an empty, collapsible water bottle. Once through security, fill it at a drinking fountain before boarding.
- Pack along antibacterial wipes, which are TSA friendly since they are not a liquid. Then use them to clean your hands frequently, as well as wipe down your seat, arm rests, tray table, seatbelt, and television controls and other buttons like seat recline (wait, seats still recline?!) BEFORE use.
- Pack along your own blanket and pillow, if desired for longer flights. The ones the airlines provide, if they provide them at all, are often not cleaned sufficiently. And these days those blue scarves called blankets are not worth the thread they’re made of.
- When ya gotta go, treat airport and airplane public restrooms as the cesspools of bacterial and viral celebration they are. Use a paper towel to hold handles, lids, and more. And clean your hands thoroughly after every visit to the facilities using antibacterial wipes. PLEASE put on your shoes before heading to the john. And please do not let your pant hems drag on that IIICCCCK floor!
- Eat a healthy meal before you board the plane, and take an emergency snack in case of delays or layovers.
- Lay off the alcohol if you really want to stay healthy when flying. A bar is seems like a wonderful place to while away the time prior to departure or between connections, but alcohol leads to dehydration which can lead to illness, not to mention feeling more fatigued when you arrive at your destination.
- Be kind to your nasal passages. The female member of our HI Travel Tales team packs along a bottle of nasal saline spray to moisturize the membranes in her nose. It helps keep those delicate membranes in her nose from drying out during a long flight and works to prevent nosebleeds and congestion.
- Avoid overindulgence in caffeinated beverages such as coffee or black tea. It may affect the sleep you want to get. Not only can it affect your sleep, but caffeine also is a diuretic, working against your body’s attempts to stay hydrated.
- Keep muscles motivated and moving while on board. A report from a 2015 consumer advisory group set up by the Department of Transportation found as airlines are packing in more seats, comfort is not the only thing being sacrificed – your health and safety may be too. Nimia L. Reyes, a medical officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was quoted in a related Associated Press story saying that passengers in window seats had twice the risk of getting deep vein thrombosis (where a blood clot can form) than those on aisle seats because it is far more difficult to get up, walk around and stretch. You simply MUST move around, no matter where you sit. Stop being too polite and ask to get up at least every hour or two at minimum. As an additional primer to help you stay healthy when flying, use the infographic below, courtesy of our friends at Thomas Cook to help you stay as active as possible during your flight.