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We are coming up on the day before Thanksgiving – one of the two busiest travel days of the year. And yes, for many of us, that means flying to our destinations. Flying can often be an unpleasant experience, what with long security lines, delayed flights, cramped seating and sick fellow passengers adding to the holiday stress. There is no better time to focus on taking care of yourself than aboard a germ-filled plane.

There are plenty of ways to avoid catching a cold from your new neighbor sitting across the aisle, sneezing into his hands:[1]

  1. Hand sanitizer. Make sure you have hand sanitizing gel with a 60% alcohol content for you and your travel companions. Make sure to use the sanitizer after you’ve washed your hands in the airplane bathroom. Not only is the flush button covered in germs, but airplane water is often not very clean.
  2. Don’t shut off the vent above your head completely to avoid the spread of germs. Instead, set the ventilation to no higher than medium, and make sure the stream of air flows in front of your head. The vented air will help push away any errant germs in your vicinity.
  3. That seat back pocket in which your phone and iPad are stowed? It’s riddled with germs, as is the tray table. A simple wipe down can work wonders.
  4. Try to refrain from touching your face if you haven’t wiped off your hands with sanitizer. Germs linger on human skin. Doing something as simple as scratching your nose can transfer those germs to your soft tissue and either make you more vulnerable to a cold or even skin breakouts.
  5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! The dry, recirculated air in a pressurized airplane cabin can be desiccating. And if your destination is much higher than sea level (like Denver, for instance), keeping yourself hydrated will also help you acclimate to those higher elevations when you land.
  6. Airplane cabin pressure also has a drying effect on your skin, so make sure you have moisturizer in your carry-on bag.[2] That includes lip moisturizer.
  7. If you’re on a transcontinental or international flight, eyedrops will help alleviate any redness or eye irritation you might develop after watching back-to-back movies on a small screen or reading for long periods of time.[3]

Making sure you take care of yourself before, during and after your flight will remove one major stressor from your holiday plans. Safe travels!

[1] Doucleff, M. (2014, July 14). Pathogens on a Plane: How to Stay Healthy in Flight. NPR.org. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2014/07/14/319194689/pathogens-on-a-plane-how-to-stay-healthy-in-flight.
[2] Bouchez, C. 18 Beauty Tips – To Go. WebMD.com. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/beauty/features/18-travel-beauty-tips-to-go#1.
[3] Ibid.