Germs on a Plane: Tips for Staying Healthy While you Fly

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My husband and I were recently on a flight to Philadelphia to visit some friends for spring break. It was pretty late, and we were watching a movie together while enjoying our free glasses of wine courtesy of the drink coupons Southwest Airlines had sent us for being loyal Southwest Rapid Rewards card holders.

Suddenly, there was a commotion in the row in front of us as a woman started hollering for the flight attendant. And then, there it was. The smell. A child directly in front of us had woken up from a deep sleep and immediately thrown up down the wall of the plane from his window seat.

Thank goodness the flight was over halfway done, because let me assure you, the smell did not go away. Even though this little guy probably had a bug he’d caught before ever boarding the plane, it’s no secret that airplanes are kind of disgusting. Cram 200 people in a confined space, and you have the potential for a germy disaster.

How can you stay healthy on a plane, especially if your immune system is perhaps already weakened following your travels? Here are a few quick tips for landing at your destination as healthy as you were when you boarded.

Stay Hydrated

Water is your friend, especially when you are flying. Bring an empty water bottle through security, and fill it up in the airport before you board the plane. Skip the sugary sodas, alcohol, and caffeine when the beverage cart roles by.

(And yes, I did just talk about drinking wine on a plane a few paragraphs up. Does it help if I asked for a glass of water too? I will assure you I did not feel as good when we landed as I would have if I’d followed my own advice and stuck with water.)

Wipe Those Seats Down

Bring a package of antibacterial wipes with you, and wipe everything you can when you get to your seat. If you are traveling with kids, this is a great task for them! They’ll love getting to use wipes, and hopefully it will mean you are traveling with fewer germs.

Boost Your ImmuneSystem

Consider taking an immune boosting supplement to help bulk up your immune system in preparation for an onslaught of germs. Start taking an immune booster a few days before you fly, and continue throughout your trip and even for a couple of days after getting home.

Bring Healthy Snacks

Anyone else walk into an airport and suddenly want all the snacks? The price tag usually deters me from splurging too much, but the sweet and salty and greasy and fatty snacks airports are full of will do nothing positive for your health. Pack some healthy snacks that make you feel good in your carry on, or look for fresh, healthy options if you have to purchase a snack in the airport.

Pack a Sweater

It doesn’t matter what season it is, what time of day it is, or what I’m wearing. I freeze on airplanes. Pack an extra layer to help you stay warm, for both your comfort and your health’s sake.  

Don’t Touch your Face

Try to avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, until you are able to get off the plane and wash your hands thoroughly. If you’re going to eat on the plane, be sure to use hand sanitizer first. Germy hands can lead to sick bodies!

Get Plenty of Sleep

Travel is both exciting and stressful, so it can be difficult to get a good night of sleep before a flight. This is especially true if you have an early morning flight. However, arriving at the airport well rested will work wonders for feeling healthy while you fly. Being exhausted weakens your immune system, so get plenty of sleep before flying.

Blow the Germs Away

You know those buttons and contraptions above your head? Aim the vent at yourself and blast it throughout the flight. This keeps air near you circulating, and hopefully blows germs away while it’s at it.

Ask for a New Seat

If it becomes evident that a passenger near you is sick, ask the flight attendant if it’s possible to change seats. Sometimes you might be stuck, especially if the flight is full, but it never hurts to ask if you can switch seats – especially for your health’s sake.

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Amber Miller

Amber Miller

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