Flying in the winter can be fickle. Bad weather can postpone flights and even force an entire vacation itinerary to change at the drop of a hat.
There is, however, one thing you can always count on when traveling this season – someone is going to be sick.
You may feel like bunkering down for the winter every time someone sneezes, but don’t batten down the hatches yet because there are some things you can do to stay healthy from point A to point B.
Flu season is upon us, and it is reportedly worse than ever. The odds someone on your flight is carrying a virus are pretty high.
The Wall Street Journal highlighted a study in 2011 that found you have a 20% higher chance of catching a cold on a plane.
In 2008 on a flight from Boston to Los Angeles, one passenger with norovirus infected so many of their fellow passengers that they had to do an emergency landing after only three hours.
So how do you avoid picking up an illness on board when you are trapped in such a small area with so many people?
Follow these tips to try to escape your winter flight without all the extra germs that passengers leave behind for you.
Avoid the bathroom like the plague.
Dr. Marina Gafanovich told The Points Guy:
“You have to understand that many people are sharing that bathroom. And research suggests that there are significant germs on sinks, flush handles and toilet seats on airplane bathrooms. That is why it’s best to use paper towels when you touch the toilet seat or faucet or even the door latch.”
Make sure to use the restroom before you board short flights. If you are on a longer flight and can’t wait, then be sure to avoid touching any unnecessary knobs or switches.
Sanitize your hands immediately when you get back to your seat, and take a dose of vitamin C to combat any bug you may have been exposed to.
Ever feel like your skin just doesn’t look as great on a flight as it normally does, or that you can’t seem to get enough of those mini cups of water?
You are not crazy. The humidity in the cabin is only about 15%, where land humidity hovers between 30% and 60%.
Basically, it is very dry. When the mucous membranes of your nose dry out they are more susceptible to bacteria and viruses.
So drink up enough to drown the viruses while not enough to have to keep sending you back to the ceramic throne from which they came.
Wash your hands.
This advice is simple, but has been saving lives for a long time. Keeping your hands clean is a great way to prevent any nasty bugs from entering your body.
When you can’t get to a sink to wash your hands with soap and water then use a sanitizer with 60% to 95% alcohol content, as suggested by the CDC.
When you place your hands on the armrest- sanitize. When you buckle up- sanitize. When the guy from Oklahoma sitting next to you wants to shake your hand- sanitize!
And whatever you do, don’t touch your face while on an airplane.
You will try to remember to follow all the tips as close to the letter of the law as possible, but one germy scratch to your eye and “Bam!” You have the virus.
Getting sick after you get to your destination can ruin a trip before the snow even had a chance to.
While there is no way to be 100% preventative, taking precaution while on board is the best way to ensure healthy air travel.
Pack up your vitamin C, lavender wipes, and family size sanitizer bottle, because your next winter flight will surely have something gross and contagious lurking in an unsuspecting row near you.
(h/t Proud American Traveler)