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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

We don’t know what’s worse, the dreaded airplane cold or just plain being sick on a long-haul flight. It’s downright awful and we are just getting into the cold season, so here are 5 tips on how to avoid getting sick on a plane.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Don’t fly if you feel sick?” Airlines charge way too much to simply cancel or change a flight because of a cold, flu or other bug going around. Don’t get us wrong, if you show signs of Ebola, do not get on a flight! But common colds and winter flus are a totally different story. There’s always bound to be one or two people coughing around you this time of the year, but if you take a few precautions, here’s how to avoid catching anything.

Tip 1: Turn on the air nozzle above your head.

Keep the air around you circulating. That’s a really good way to avoid any germ heading your way. While some people swear that airplane air makes you sick, this really is not the case. Cabin air quality is very good as it is filtered and recirculated with high-efficiency particulate absorption filters. Circulation will help keep sickness outbreaks to a minimum, so let that air flow all flight long.

Tip 2: Watch what you touch.

If you think airlines disinfect every tray table and seatbelt between every flight then you have another thing coming. The most common places where germs are lurking are the lavatories (obviously), tray tables and aisle seats, especially the headrests as people typically hold on to them as they walk up and down the aisles. Now, you could go your entire flight with rubber gloves on but frequent hand washing and a travel bottle of hand sanitiser also does wonders. 70% of germs are known to hide between your fingers and under your nails, so give those paws a good scrub.


Tip 3: Channel your inner germ-o-phobe.

As soon as you reach your seat, get out a pack of disinfectant wipes and give the whole area a good little wipe down. People may look at you funny but they’re going to wish they were as smart as you. Places to tackle include the tray table, the head rest, the arm rests and the seatbelt buckle. Don’t even think about touching those in-flight magazines… even if you’re tempted. Dispose of the wipes before your flight takes off and rest assured, you’re more safe from germs than anyone else on the flight.

Tip 4: Drink water, lots of it.

Staying hydrated conquers a lot of evils: headaches, stomach problems, cramps, fatigue and more. Drinking plenty of water will help your immune system work much better, think of it as the WD-40 for your body. Without it, it just can’t cope will all the germs and viruses it encounters. Sipping water continuously throughout the flight is also far better than drinking a lot of water in one go. Hot drinks, like herbal teas, are also ideal for keeping your throat moist and a nasal spray also doesn’t hurt.


Tip 5: Prevention starts before you flight.

If you have an itchy throat or any other signs of illness, take a quick trip to your GP before you fly. Eating healthy in the run up to your flight and getting lots of rest the night before your flight is essential. Your immune system should be in tip top shape to battle whatever is coming its way. Pop those multivitamins and pack a few sachets of 1000mg of Vitamin C to take post flight, just in case.

Travellers, good luck this winter and may you ward off sickness like a ninja.

Imgs: williambrawley, miggslives,koadmunkee / Flickr cc.

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