Travel is meant to be fun, adventurous, educational even. What it is not meant to be is a hazard to your health. Travel shouldn’t make you ill; however, occasionally (hopefully not frequently) it does.
If you are predisposed to air sickness and ‘tossing your cookies’ every time you set foot in a moving vehicle – plane, train, or automobile – there may not yet be ‘an app for that’, but there are some things you can do to lessen your discomfort, maybe even let you keep down those airplane snack ‘cookies’ 🙂
At times following a flight we may be hit by a bout of the ‘airplane cold’. Can you blame stale air in the cabin for making passengers susceptible to a cold? The airplane needs to be pretty well sealed for obvious reasons – it’s freezing at that altitude, for one thing; oh, and there’s something about keeping the plane in the air, too. This sealed capsule sailing through the air does, however, have a source of incoming fresh air. The airplane’s engines are designed to compress the thin freezing exterior air until it’s compatible with the pressure of the air inside the cabin. The compression heats up the air, so it needs to be cooled again prior to mixing with the cabin air. But enough with the aeronautical engineering talk :-). Suffice it to say, despite what you may have heard…..the air you’re breathing in the airplane’s cabin is not strictly air that is recirculated from all the other passengers.
Then why do so many of us tend to get sick after traveling in an airplane? We may come down with an airplane cold or worse after spending time as a passenger. As is often said in a break up, “It’s you, not me”…..okay, maybe that’s backwards, but I’m pretty sure that’s what we mean to say 🙂 In the case of airplane travel, though, it most often is ‘you’ not ‘me’. That is if ‘you’ are taking extra precautions against picking up and spreading germs.
In a perfect world… all of your fellow passengers would be carrying hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in their carry on luggage and using these items. In any given day, the number of hands that touch the top of seat backs (particularly the aisle seats), tray tables, and the pouches which contain the emergency info and other reading material (and said materials), may well number into the hundreds. That is hundreds of people unwittingly spreading the germs attached to those hands. Combine that with whatever goes on in the lavatories, and you have a recipe for maladies of all kinds – the common cold, flu, norovirus, diarrhea, and others – that can spread like wildfire to all passengers. Definitely not the way you want to spend your vacation or your days at home following your trip.
What can you do to avoid catching something nasty from your fellow passengers? Those in close proximity are particularly suspect. How can you prevent or lessen motion sickness while you’re flying? Here are 10 safety tips that will help you to travel healthy while you’re so snugly cocooned with all those other ‘walking germs’ 🙂
How to Avoid Getting Sick When You Fly
1. Drink, drink, drink!! Water, that is 🙂 Make it a habit to carry an empty water bottle with you when you travel, or buy one of the pricey bottled waters from an airport kiosk once you’ve cleared security. Fill your water bottle before you board the plane, and keep yourself well hydrated throughout the flight.
2. Don’t drink and fly 🙂 To lessen the chances of motion sickness, avoid alcohol prior to and after boarding the airplane. A combination of your proclivity to motion sickness and the effects of the alcohol on your poor tummy will not make for a pretty scene in Seat 16A….or 16B….and maybe even Seat 16D across the aisle 😉 Oh, your fellow passengers are gonna love you if this happens!
3. If you suffer from motion sickness, take a Dramamine, Gravol, or other over-the-counter medicine intended to keep your tummy and your eyes on the same page (so to speak) once you start moving. Just remember to take this medication at least a half hour before you get on the airplane so it has time to be effective. The downside to most of these meds is that they can make you drowsy. Great if you’re taking an overnight flight, or if you’re flying during the day but it will be morning at your destination upon arrival… not so great if you have an important meeting scheduled or a tour booked and you kind of need to be alert (or at least, awake!) when you disembark. For that, you’ll want to ingest the non-drowsy type capsules.
4. Your carry on luggage needs to include disinfectant wipes. Use the wipes to wipe down your seat, the top and back of the seat in front of you, your tray table, arm rests…the passengers seated next to you – maybe you don’t need to be quite that thorough – they may get a little miffed with you 🙂
5. Your carry on luggage also needs to include hand sanitizer. Use your hand sanitizer before and after using the lavatory, and before and after you eat. Don’t be content with simply washing your hands in the lavatory basin, as the water you’re using there isn’t necessarily ‘pure mountain spring water’ by any stretch!
6. If you have a cold already prior to flying, have the decency to practice good hygiene in an attempt to spare your seat mates! Cough into your sleeve, dispose of tissues, use your hand sanitizer….often, maybe offer it to your seat mates as well, and use those disinfectant wipes.
7. If you’re feeling particularly vulnerable healthwise, or are a bit of a germaphobe…opt for a sanitary face mask to cover your nose and mouth.
8. Pack or purchase healthy snacks to eat throughout the flight. Your body will thank you for the nutrition – the complimentary soda and mouthful of pretzels so generously included in the price of your ticket wouldn’t pass the approval of any dietitian worth his/her salt, and definitely are not the most healthy food choices for you to make if you hope to stay healthy while you travel.
9. Make like ‘Chuck & Cammie’ or Will and Kate, and do your own ‘royal walkabout’ as often as you are able to throughout the course of your flight. If the food cart seems to be in the aisle every time you want to go for a stroll, stay in your seat and perform some exercises that you can do seated. Flex and rotate your ankles, stretch your arms above your head, shrug your shoulders, rotate your chin from side to side – whatever you can do to keep the blood flowing to all the extremities of your body.
10. Do what you can to get healthy before you travel – eat good food, drink plenty of water, exercise, get the sleep you need. Being healthy before you fly will provide you with a good defense against whatever nasty germs may be ‘coughed’ your way when you do fly.
Whether you’re circling the globe or flying to Grandma’s house in the next state, your airplane time and time at your destination will be much more enjoyable if you take these steps to stay healthy throughout the flight.