How to avoid getting sick while traveling

MEGAN PINCKNEY | 2/1/2018, 4:02 p.m.
It’s no secret that one of the easiest ways to spread any illness is to put one infected person in ...

This flu season is being classified as one of the worst in recent history. With flu-related deaths at an all-time high, people (both young and old, healthy and not) are taking great measures to avoid catching the virus.

It’s no secret that one of the easiest ways to spread any illness is to put one infected person in close and enclosed quarters with a large group of people, such as on an airplane; however, there are a few simple things you can do to combat this situation and come out just as healthy as you were going in. The trick is being prepared and staying cautious.


One of the first things you can do for yourself and your health when you board is to sanitize your personal space. Upon sitting down you should use antibacterial wipes to wipe down the surfaces surrounding you. Think: armrests, seat trays, TVs and remotes, and any other surfaces that someone sitting there before you might have touched and infected. Although flight attendants are instructed to wipe down these surfaces each night, there is not always time in between every flight to do it again; therefore, it’s up to you to protect yourself. It’s also a good rule of thumb not to store any of your personal items (especially things you’d put on your face, such as reading glasses) in the seat pocket in front of you. For even more protection, use the antibacterial wipes to clean surfaces in your hotel room such as doorknobs and the room phone.

Avoid tight lines

Research shows that germs can travel several feet from someone who’s coughing, sneezing or even just talking. One of the times you come in close contact with a large number of strangers is in lines at the ticket desk, the security check and before boarding the plane. Be cautious of the people around you and their condition. Avoid standing close to large groups by getting through earlier or waiting until the crowd passes. Either option would take strategic planning on your end.

Turn on your air vent

Contrary to popular misbelief, the air vent above your seat on a plane should actually be open. Although the air might be cooler than you’d want, especially during this time of year, the flow of air above your head will help keep you away from stale air and looming viruses. In this case, circulation is your friend.

Choose the window seat

I know I fall in the minority group of people who prefer the window seat; however, during this tragic flu season the window seat is your best defense from the virus. Think about it—fewer people have come in contact with that space than, say, the aisle seats, and if you’ve taken precautionary steps such as wiping down surfaces with antibacterial wipes, the window seat can act as your own personal corner of defense by protecting you from the bodily fluids of strangers.

Keep your immune system up

One of the greatest ways to protect yourself from getting sick while traveling is by keeping your immune system healthy and active. Be sure to take daily vitamins leading up to your trip and especially the morning of. Airborn, an immune booster, is also incredibly helpful in preventing illness and protecting your insides. It is worth noting that drinking alcohol and coffee will decrease your immune system and increase dehydration, so it is best to avoid both of these (at least while at the airport and on the plane) and load up on water instead. Be sure to keep your hands clean by washing them thoroughly and often with hot water and soap. Doctors have also advised passengers to keep nasal spray nearby for the duration of a flight and to use it roughly every two hours to keep your mucous membranes moist. They’ve noticed that if you don’t, those mucous membranes will begin to dry out and you’ll lose one of the most valuable defenses for preventing respiratory viruses.