Have you ever got home from a holiday and then a couple of days later you’re sick?
You answered, yes, right? You are not alone! We have too!
This past month we spent ten wonderful days in Florida. Where we soaked up the sun and got some severe adrenaline rushes on crazy roller coasters! We arrived home to the cold weather typical for February. We felt tired and a bit jet-lagged, maybe but otherwise healthy.
Fast forward a couple of days and our son had a full-blown cold, and a couple of us (me included!) were not feeling good. Runny noses and sore throats all around!
This bout of illness caused our son to miss a couple of days of school, which was annoying because he had already lost a week of school for our recent holiday. This is a recurring theme; we get home from a fun and relaxing holiday to find one of us sick. It got me thinking. How can we stay healthy during air travel?
Why does someone from our family always seem to get sick after coming off a plane?
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There are Two Main Reasons for Getting Sick After Flying
- Low humidity on the plane, and
- Germs are everywhere.
So Why is Humidity so Important?
One article that I read said that the humidity on an airplane is usually only around 10%! Yikes, no wonder planes make us feel crappy! The winter’s here in Alberta are very dry, and we average about 60% humidity throughout the day. And maybe you are possibly returning from a vacation destination that averages around 80% like the tropics? That’s a pretty big difference! And I would think a shock to your system!?
I wanted to know how we can protect ourselves from this drop in humidity and help us stay healthy after air travel. I found a couple of simple tricks that you may want to try on your next flight.
What Can We Do?
The first and easiest way is to stay healthy when travelling is to stay hydrated. This means you need to drink water throughout your flight. And try to avoid drinks with booze or caffeine.
The second step, Which I’ve recently found out to be super important, is to keep your mucous membranes in your nose healthy. re: moist (sorry, I know. ew!)
When the mucus in your nose dries up, it can’t do its job. It needs to catch airborne germs from entering your respiratory system. If that can’t happen, you are at a much higher risk of getting sick. There is nothing there stopping you from breathing in all kinds of yucky stuff!
One way to combat a dry nose is by using a saline nasal spray.
Just make sure it’s under the allowed carry on size. (like this one!) This will keep your nose hydrated and healthy!
This next tip comes courtesy of Megan Markle.
Put a small amount of Neosporin (or Polysporin) onto a cotton swab and place just inside your nostrils. This keeps your nose from drying out, plus the stickiness of the ointment will help catch any airborne germs. After your flight, clean it out with a damp cotton swab and tissue.
Airplanes are Germ Factories!
Seriously, I can’t tell you how glad I am that I can get on a plane in the morning, fly through the sky, and later that same day land somewhere exotic, intriguing or tropical. It’s amazing!
But the thing is airplanes are crammed full of people, who are touching everything and breathing in recirculated air. As a result, they are full of germs!
So How Dirty is an Airplane?
According to Travel Math, by far, the dirtiest spot on the plane is the tray table. For a reference point, the toilet flush button on a plane came in at an average of 264 CFU/sq inch. A tray table is 2155 CFU/sq inch. That’s disgusting! (CFU means colony–forming units)
The turnaround time between flights is pretty quick; as a result, they end up getting quick cleaning and are rarely sanitized. I tried to find out how often planes get a deep clean, and there isn’t much information available. The closest I could find was vague numbers for every thirty to forty–five days. Gross, right! No wonder it’s so hard to stay healthy after air travel.
It’s a bit frustrating having to end up cleaning so you don’t pick up a bug, especially after you have shelled out $$$ for your seat. Pull out those wipes anyway! Wipe everything! To the point where you feel like people start to look at you funny.
While it’s a good idea to try to wipe down everything possible. There are a few key areas that are super important to wipe down.
- tray table,
- seat belt buckle,
- air vent,
- take them to the washroom with you.
Keep anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitizer in your carry on bag.
I like these Wet Ones. They are individually wrapped and are easy to carry. They work well for sanitizing surfaces, wiping your hands, and are gentle enough to clean your little one’s hands and face.
What Else Can I Do?
Take a step towards prevention before you leave. You can do this by boosting up your family’s immune system. A few days before your departure date start by taking a Vitamin C supplement, eating a healthy balanced diet full of vitamin-rich foods, and it’s crucial to keep hydrated.
- Call the airline ahead of time and choose your seat.
- The window seat is your best bet for avoiding germs.
- Let everyone else on the plane first.
- Keep your hands clean as possible and try not to touch your face.
Conclusion: There are Three Simple Ways to Keep Healthy During Air Travel.
1) Hydration! If your mucus in your nose dries up, you may find yourself susceptible to illness. Try using a saline spray or put a small amount of Neosporin inside your nostrils. And don’t forget to drink water to stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol and caffeine if possible.
2) Sanitize! As soon as you get into your seat, wipe down your area on the plane, especially, that gross tray table! Carry antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer in your carry on. Wipe everything to kill surface germs lurking in your seat area.
3) Wash Your Hands! Wash your hands, especially before you eat or touch your face. Try your best not to touch your face, especially your eyes and mouth.
Do you have any tips or tricks you use to stay healthy when travelling?
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