It may sound like a strange topic to write about – how to stay healthy during a flight. A flight usually is but a tiny percentage of the overall time we travel, and it is often seen by fliers as the only thing standing in the way of a recuperative and relaxing time away from the stresses of home and work. However, a flight is an almost perfect storm of factors that can be sickness-inducing and potentially be a nightmare with the opposite results that the flier was looking for. From the bacteria that abound on all surfaces to the close proximity of the same people for hours, it becomes necessary to keep certain things in mind so that we can have a healthy flight to and from our destinations.
Staying hydrated is the first and foremost tool to getting through a flight. The air in the pressurized cabins is at lower-than-normal humidity. Maintaining an electrolyte balance is also important, and drinks like Gatorade are great for this. Dehydration and the hours of inactivity together combine for an easy way to get blood clots, so always hydrate effectively. Alcohol and caffeine both increase the chances of dehydration, so try to limit those substances, as well.
…but Do It Safely
Though you need to be more focused on hydrating while flying, you should do your best to stay away from water on board a plane, as it is full of bacteria. Hot drinks like coffee and tea may be fine, but it is safer to stay away from anything made with the water on board completely. This also includes ice, so make sure you order your drinks straight up without ice.
Every surface that we come in contact with on board an airplane is teeming with bacteria. Remember, a plane is a public form of transportation, with thousands of people touching the same surfaces every week. There is a large number of germs in most public bathrooms, tiny, overused ones on airplanes are much worse. According to Today (NBC), “there are often traces of E. coli or fecal bacteria on the faucets and door handles because it’s hard to wash hands in the tiny sinks. And the volcanic flush of the commode tends to spew particles into the air, coating the floor and walls with whatever had been swirling around in it.” Bring a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer, and use it often, including even after you’ve washed your hands upon returning to your seat. Another good thing to do is to pack a small bag of baby wipes, which will allow you to wipe off the surfaces in your seating area, such as your tray table and armrests and perhaps the remote control of the in-flight entertainment system, helping to neutralize some of the bacteria there.
Never Touch Your Face
Just because you are hand sanitizing, you should not feel any more encouraged to touch your eyes, nose, mouth, or face in general. Touching your mouth and nose are prime ways to spread germs and viruses, whether you’re in flight or not. One of the most-recommended ways doctors advocate to stave off the flu virus is to avoid touching your nose and mouth, so you can be sure that it is ever more relevant during a flight. Touching your eyes is a bad habit at any time, but also be well-aware to steer clear of doing so during a flight; though you might be washing and sanitizing often enough, you are bound to inadvertently touch something you didn’t mean to.