plane germs

Photo by Kyle Simourd.

Sitting in a confined space with hundreds of others for hours on end can really up your chances of picking up germs, and potentially, falling sick. That of course, is the last thing you need when you’re going on an exciting vacation or traveling for work. So how can you avoid getting sick when flying?

First, you need to prepare your body pre-flight. I suggest checking out the ABC News video below for some handy tips from a doctor about the best way to do just that, as well as some precautions to take once you actually get on the plane. Then, keep scrolling to read some of my own techniques for keeping the germs at bay.


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I definitely agree with generally trying to keep your immune system in tip-top shape and using hand sanitizer frequently. Here are a couple of my suggestions for keeping healthy that weren’t mentioned in the video:

  • Avoid using the blankets and pillows they give you on the plane, since these are generally not washed between flights. I will often use the provided pillow as a lower back support, but for resting my head, I prefer to bring my own inflatable neck pillow (which I find much more comfortable when sleeping in an upright position anyway). If you must use the blanket, try to avoid it touching your face.
  • Be aware that the in-flight magazines and other reading material in the seat back pocket have been handled by lots of people before you. By all means read it – but remember to wash or sanitize your hands before touching your mouth or eating.
  • Ask to switch seats. If you’re sitting next to someone who is clearly sick as a dog, it’s worth asking the flight attendant if there’s another seat you can move to.
  • Direct the air vent that’s above your seat away from you or turn it off. It’s basically shooting re-circulated air from the cabin right into your face.
  • Use a paper towel to open the lavatory door in case the person before you didn’t wash their hands.
  • Don’t brush your teeth with the water running from the sink in the bathroom. It’s normal to want to freshen up after a long flight – but ask the flight attendant for a cup of bottled water to do it with.
  • Shower when you arrive at your destination. You’ll probably want to do this anyway, since long haul flights can leave you feeling pretty icky, but it’s also a good way to wash away any germs.

What do you think? Do you have any other tips for avoid germs while up in the air?