How to make sure your flight doesn't make you sick

Getting sick is never fun, but getting sick while you're on a plane is even worse. Here are my top 7 tips for staying well on your next plane journey.

 7 tips for staying healthy on your next flight

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Our top 7 tips for staying healthy on your next trip blog post

Getting sick is never fun, but getting sick while you're on a plane is even worse. Here are my top 7 tips for staying well on your next plane journey.

 1.    Mind those germs

Planes make multiple trips each day and carry hundreds of passengers. Consequently, every surface is a potential breeding ground for bacteria and germs. When flying, antibacterial wipes are your best friend.

As soon as you take a seat, wipe down the following:

  • Tray table—the place where your food sits is actually one of the dirtiest parts of a plane!
  • Armrests
  • Air vents above your seat
  • Belt buckle
  • Window shades

Also beware of potential nasties, like used tissues or rubbish, which may be in the pocket of the seat in front of you.

2.    Give yourself plenty of leg room

Keep your on-board essentials (see our other blog post for our list of suggestions) in a small bag. Stow the rest of your carry-on luggage in the overhead lockers. This will provide plenty of room to stretch your legs and keep your blood circulating.

3.    Beware of the bathroom

As we said, antibacterial wipes are your best friend when flying. When answering the call of nature, make sure you wipe down any areas you might touch. Use a hand sanitiser once you return to your seat.

4.    Stay hydrated

The air inside a plane is extremely dry. Average comfortable humidity levels are between 40 – 70%. Humidity levels on a plane, however, can sink below 20%.

You can stay hydrated by:

  • Having a water bottle on hand at all times—continuously sipping water will help prevent headaches, cramps and fatigue
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol—drinking herbal tea will make for a more comfortable flight
  • Using nasal spray to moisten your airways
  • Using eye drops—wearing contact lenses reduces oxygen supply to your eyes, and sleeping with them on reduces the supply even more. If you wear contact lenses, remember to frequently apply saline eye drops to reduce irritation. Or, even better, wear your glasses instead
  • Applying lip balm—low humidity can quickly dry out your lips, causing them to chap
  • Applying moisturiser to protect your skin from becoming dry, flaky and itchy
  • Using the air vent above your seat—turn it to a low or medium pressure to create a refreshing breeze

5.    Skip the bubbles

According to an Aerospace Medical Association report, changes in air pressure can cause gas in the body to expand as much as 25%. Bubbly beverages do the same, so skip them to feel less bloated and “windy”. How about that herbal tea?

6.    Chew gum

When a plane ascends or descends, the air pressure around you changes faster than the air inside your ears. This can cause pain and discomfort. To equalise the pressure, chew some gum or inhale and exhale gently as you hold your mouth and nose shut. You can also yawn, suck on lollies, or wear air pressure earplugs.

7.    Avoid motion sickness

If you are prone to motion sickness, try booking a seat over the wings. This is the steadiest part of the plane and should be less turbulent.

8.    Keep your blood flowing

An aeroplane’s low air pressure can slow your blood circulation. This, in combination with sitting in the same position for a long time, can cause two complications:

  • Swelling in your legs—while usually harmless, it can be uncomfortable and unsightly, giving the appearance of being swollen like a puffer fish.
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)—this is a serious condition that occurs when your blood coagulates to form a clot in a vein (usually in the legs). Sometimes a blood clot can travel through the bloodstream. It can be life-threatening if it travels to your lungs, heart or brain.
  • See our other blog post for more precautions you can take to protect yourself from DVT.

We've just written a new eBook, The Ultimate Guide to a Comfortable Flight. It's jam-packed with travel tips that can help you have a more comfortable flight and arrive at your destination fresh, happy and healthy instead of tired, jet-lagged and sick.

If you're planning a trip which involves a flight, you'll find this eBook really useful and we'd like to share it with you - for free. Just click on the link below enter your first name and email address and we'll send you a copy right away.

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Heather Gatland
Heather Gatland

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