If you’re traveling this holiday season, you already know you’re walking into the cold and flu battle zone. Here are some tips that might help you avoid getting sick while trying to get to and from your destination.
- Stay Hydrated – Water is your best option, but apple or orange juice work too since they’re high in vitamin C. If you’re already feeling stuffy, warm lemon water with honey helps loosen congestion and keeps you hydrated. Skip the coffee and alcohol as they can actually dehydrate you. When you’re dehydrated, your mucus membranes dry out and your body becomes more susceptible to infection.
- Saline Solution – Use saline nasal sprays to irrigate your nose. The saline helps break up nasal congestion while also removing virus particles and bacteria from your nose. Unlike nasal decongestants, saline drops and sprays don’t lead to a rebound effect (a worsening of symptoms when the medication is discontinued) and most are safe and non-irritating.
- Wash Hands Frequently – Whether you’re traveling by car or by plane, hand washing is crucial. Try singing the ABC song to ensure you’re washing long enough. That can get a little tricky in the air with those tiny sinks and needing to hold the faucet handle down just to keep the water running! So, keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your carry-on. As long as it holds 3 ounces or less and is stored in a clear 1 quart-sized plastic zip-top bag, it’s fine. Use sanitizer before you eat or drink and after you’ve touched surfaces in the plane, like the overhead bins and tray tables.
- Disinfectant Wipes – Speaking of tray tables – before you pull yours out, carry a small pack of Clorox or disinfectant wipes and wipe down the surface. Flight attendants often don’t have time between flights to clean every table and armrest. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cold and flu viruses can survive up to 72 hours on plastic surfaces, while noroviruses can survive for two to four weeks. Antibacterial wipes are TSA friendly since they’re not a liquid, and you can use them to clean your hands, as well as wipe down your seat, arm rests, tray table, and especially your seatbelt before you sit.
- Ask to Be Moved – Let’s say you’ve done everything you can to stay healthy while traveling, and then you sit down next to someone who sounds as though they’re going to cough up a lung. You can politely ask to move seats. Unless the flight is overbooked, or the train is jam packed, chances are you’ll be successful. If you’re stuck, it’s not a bad idea to have a mask in your carry-on and wear it. It can help protect you from any bacteria that your sneezing neighbors might pass along.
- Load up on Vitamin C – Your immune system will need all the help it can get while dealing with crowded airports, bus depots and train stations – not to mention the re-circulated air during flights. Take extra vitamin C before, during and after your trip to give your immune system the edge it needs.