4 Easy Ways to Stay Healthy While Flying

Gasp! It’s been almost two months since I’ve been on a plane. So when the opportunity came to get away very briefly at the end of the month, I booked a flight faster than you could say “Spirit Airlines says what?” While I’m looking forward to getting out of town and getting my travel on, I am a little nervous about getting sick. Not from overindulging in vacation-time nightlife (although a definite possibility), but from being on the airplane.

I’m normally not nervous about flying at all, in fact I really look forward to it. But with Ebola ravaging West Africa and creeping into the US, thanks to- you guessed it- air travel- I’ve had travel health on my mind. Passengers are starting to be screened for the virus at some of the world’s largest airports, like Heathrow and JFK, so ish is getting real, as they say. I mean, I’ve seen Outbreak and Contagion, so I’m basically an expert on this topic, right? 

I’m not saying I think I’m going to get Ebola the next time I get on a plane (okay- maybe a very small voice in the back of my head is saying that but most of me knows better). That would be highly unlikely. But, it has given me pause to think about being more careful to stay healthy while flying. While getting Ebola on a plane would mean a lot of unfortunate things would need to happen, getting the flu or another airborne virus is a very real possibility. Sharing a relatively small space with a bunch of people for several hours at time with changes in the air and barometric pressure has the potential to do a number on your body or at least your psyche.

So, I consulted the authorities on this subject (and tried to pretend I’ve never seen the Walking Dead), like the CDC and WHO,  to get some tips. They are pretty common sense, but I guess it’s always good to get a refresher course. And then I remembered that Walking Dead is awesome and what better way to illustrate good airline passenger hygiene?

1. If you are really sick, don’t travel. You won’t feel good and there’s a good chance you’ll give your germy-germs to others on the plane with your sneezing, coughing, and touching things. Stay home, Germy McGermeson.

The Walking Dead2. Wash your hands. Duh, but serious, wash your hands. Before you eat, after you use the toilet, etc. One the best things you can pack in your carry-on is hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) or hand cleaning wipes, because we all know it can be hard to get really clean in those airplane bathrooms.

The Walking Dead3. Get up and move around. You’re more likely to get a deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot developing in your leg) on a flight than Ebola. The best way to prevent this is to walk around every 2-3 hours on longer flights, and make sure the space around your legs isn’t too crowded with stuff so you can stretch out.

4. Limit the caffeine and booze. I love a watered-down Bloody Mary as much as the next person, but air travel naturally dehydrates you, which can make you feel gross and potentially weaken your ability to fight off those germs. Caffeine and booze can also make jet lag worse. Don’t forget to pack moisturizer and take your contacts out, too to combat the dryness.

The Walking Dead

Stay healthy this fall, fellow travelers! If you have any tried and true tips, I’d love to hear them on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

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