I love most things about travel. Visiting loved ones, enjoying new adventures, and getting away from my daily life are just a few. One thing I don’t like, however, is the prospect of being crammed together with strangers on an airplane for several hours. I don’t mind making small talk, but I sure don’t wish to catch something!
No matter where you fall on the germ phobic spectrum, your sense of well-being can be challenged when you think of the many ways you can get sick from travel on an airplane.
First off: just how germy are airplanes? The good news is, it may not be as bad as we think. The air that circulates in the cabin is actually clean (contrary to what many of us have been led to believe). Instead of air recirculating (major ew), Fresh air is brought in from the outside from compressor stages from the engines. According to Patrick Smith’s Ask The Pilot, “studies have shown that a crowded airplane is no more germ-laden than other enclosed spaces -and usually less.”
If you are still not feeling very reassured, there are precautions that you can take to stay healthy while travelling.
Here are ten tips for you:
1. Don’t use the tray table or clean it with a sanitizing wipe first. Tray tables have been tested to be some of the dirtiest places on an airplane (worst than the restrooms) because they are just not cleaned that frequently.
2. Use your own travel pillow and blanket. For the same reason as above, these items are just not cleaned frequently. Chances are you are using a blanket that has simply been refolded and used by a prior passenger.
3. Avoid the aisle seats. When sick passengers need to get up and use the restroom, what are they using to stable themselves as they pass through the narrow aisle ? Think about it.
4. If you are going to brush your teeth, use bottled water instead of water from the tap.
5. Keep your ventilation air on (remember this is fresh air). However, do not have it on too forcefully. Dr. Mark Gendreau of the Lahey Medical Center suggests you have the air on low to medium. You should have it aimed so that you feel the air on your lap. If there is anything airborne from nearby coughing or sneezing passengers, this will help keep your personal air space safe.
6. Wash hands frequently and keep hand gel with you.
7. Keep personal items out of the seat pocket in front of you. Studies have shown that the back seat pocket is actually one of the most germ infested places on an airplane (think of folks staching used tissues or napkins and other personal items).
8. Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of bottled water and avoid too much caffeine and alcohol.
9. If you are on a long flight, get active. Stretch legs as much as you can to avoid developing blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
10. Lastly, use your common sense. If you are seated next to someone who is obviously sick, ask to move. If the flight is not completely full, the staff should accommodate your request. As in most cases when it comes to our health, we need to take ownership and responsibility for our well-being.
Safe and healthy travels to all!
Debra struggled with anxiety and insomnia for many years. About five years ago, she started a blog, The Warm Milk Journal, as a way to reach out to others who may be having the same struggles. The Warm Milk Journal has become a popular resource for people in need of a good night sleep and recently won Success Magazine's BlogStar award. Debra holds degrees in communications, law, and education. When she is not blogging she is a social media specialist for a large automotive group company in the Jacksonville, Florida area. When not working, you may find Debra walking on the beach or sweating it out at a nearby Bikram studio.
Main Photo Credit & Third Photo Credit: gyn9037/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Alex Brylov/shutterstock.com