I like to think of myself as a frequent flyer, especially lately. Since a little over a year ago I’ve taken 9 flights total, with 3 of those being long-haul international flights. Counting each flight from various layovers separately, I’ve completed 15 legs total on different planes.
That’s a lot of flying– at least for me. And every time I’ve managed to get, what I like to call, the travel bug.
Now I’m not talking about the itch to continue traveling–though let me assure you I’ve caught that as well. What I’m talking about is getting sick. The Journal of Environmental Health Research states you are up to 100 times more likely to catch a cold on a plane than you are in your normal day-to-day-life. Yikes!
I’ll be honest, I have a horrible immune system. Horrible is probably an understatement. Any time I’ve ever traveled anywhere, setting foot on a plane, I’ve ended up ill.
I was determined to stay healthy during my recent trip to Singapore. With having such a short stay, late flights and returning to work the very next morning, it seemed almost impossible to escape the airplane illness. My fate of illness seemed sealed when I woke up the day before departure having a runny nose and sneezing fits.
My determination to get healthy led me to taking some preventative measures before, during and after my flight. And so far since my return Sunday, I’m free of any illness! (But sadly not injury.)
Now obviously my methods won’t work for everyone and some of them may seem a little over-the-top, but here are my tips to stay healthy while traveling.
1. Get adequate sleep and eat proper meals beginning at least two days prior to takeoff.
This is kind of a no-brainer. Whether traveling makes you feel tired or not, it’s still taxing on your body, especially when changing times zones. But even if you’re not traveling, I think consistently getting good sleep and eating healthily will help prevent illness in general.
2. Take multivitamins
I purchased just regular Centrum and began taking 1 pill daily, starting 2 days before my flight and now have continued taking them these 2 days after. (Although I’ll probably just keep taking them since taking multivitamins is never a bad thing.)
3. Water, water, water
Being on a plane is dehydrating. It’s important to continually sip water throughout your flight and to drink plenty the day before your departure. Keeping your throat well moisturized helps make it harder for bacteria to stick around.
4. Use nasal spray
Similar to keeping my throat moisturized, I also kept my nasal passage moisturized by using some saline nasal spray.
5. Wear a mask
I never considered wearing medical masks until moving abroad. In America this is usually reserved for severely sick people, but in Asia people often wear masks when they’re healthy in order to prevent picking up an illness.
6. Use disinfectant wipes
Germs are everywhere on the plane. On your armrests, tray table, the magazines in the seat pockets… everywhere. I avoided making any contact with the items in the seat pocket, but I still came in contact with plenty of other things. Before touching anything, I made sure to wipe down my area (armrests, tray table, etc.) with antibacterial wipes and let me tell you- the wipes turned black from all the dirt.
And for those things I couldn’t wipe down, such as the luggage compartments and bathroom, I just made sure to wipe my hands thoroughly afterwards.
7. Avoid direct contact with your face
Since germs are everywhere, I tried to avoid my touching my face as much as possible (a hard thing to do for me). For the most part I ended up only touching my face when applying my moisturizer.
8. Apply moisturizer and lip balm
Although this doesn’t really prevent you from getting sick, it does help keep your skin healthy and prevent breakouts! Inside the airplane, the air’s humidity typically is around 8%. However, our skin needs around 40% to be healthy. Especially for longer flights, it’s a good idea to slather on some moisturizer and lip balm in order to keep your skin from getting too dried out. During this flight in particular I ended up having to apply 3 layers of moisturizer at a time because it instantly got sucked up by my skin!