How to Avoid Airport Germs

By December 2, 2016Travel
Travelers walk quickly to avoid airport germs

Avoiding airport germs may seem like an impossible task. You’re about to be in a sealed plane filled with potentially sick passengers. These tips will help you bringing home any unwanted guests with you this winter.

Keep Airport Germs Grounded This Year

1. Stay Hydrated. With a capital “H.”

We know, we know. Humans are 60% water. You’ve undoubtedly heard this ad nauseam. But here us out. We all know the benefits of drinking water, but when it comes to avoid airport germs while traveling, drinking water can help you in a way you may not expect.

Ever notice how dry the air is on a plane? That severe lack of humidity is not good for the ole schnoz. Your nose traps allergens and germs in the moist lining of your nostrils. Then you expel them when you sneeze or blow your nose. When your nose is dry, your body has a more difficult time trapping germs.

So avoid the temptation of dehydrating alcoholic drinks and opt for water or tea. We’d also recommend carrying saline nasal spray. You can find it at your local drug store or online on sites like Amazon. Most sprays are around $5.00 a bottle.


2. Look for sick passengers

Around the holidays, planes are bursting to capacity. So asking to switch seats may be difficult, but it’s worth a shot if seated next to a passenger who is obviously sick. Hacking, sneezing, and coughing near you increases the risk you’ll take home more than pictures on your trip.

Flight crews do have the power to prevent someone from flying if they are very visibly ill, but someone with a severe cold may not appear ill at first. Discreetly explaining the situation to a flight attendant may help you defend against a nasty cold.

If you yourself are sick, don’t fly unless absolutely necessary. Not only could you infect other people, your sinuses will not be happy about the change in air pressure. Why be miserable in a tiny metal tube for hours?


3. Wash your hands

Repeat after us: hand sanitizer is your friend. It’s cheap, easy to find, and comes in travel sizes. Sanitize your hands before and after bathroom trips, before eating, and after getting on the plane. If you need to stretch your legs, avoid touching other seats in the aisles. If you must do so for balance, sanitize as soon as you get back to your seat.

Also, avoid touching your face and eyes. Research shows that rhinovirus, the nasty culprit responsible for colds, can live on surfaces for over an hour and the flu has been found to last as long as 8 hours.


4. Carry disinfectant wipes

While hand sanitizer is great for your well, hands, you can’t really wipe down surfaces with it. That’s where cleansing wipes come in.

*Cue perky, 1950s cleaning music*

Parts of hotel rooms like phone pads, remote controls, doorknobs, and faucets could all be harboring cold germs waiting to take a host.

Avoid fast-spreading airport germs this winter.

Major airports like Chicago’s O’Hare have 250,000 passengers a day. That’s a lot of potential germs going around.


5. Bring your own blanket and pillow

If you’re worried about the “yuck” factor of having your pillow touching airline seats, we assure you using airline linens is far worse. There are no regulations about when or how often airlines wash pillows and blankets. (Yes, really! We couldn’t believe it either!) One flight attendant states that they wouldn’t use their own airline’s linen.

So either bundle up with multiple long layers or bring your own things to snuggle.


6. Wear a surgical mask

This may seem a bit extreme, but plenty of travelers are already doing it. It’s not uncommon in many Asian countries to see people walking around looking like they just got out of an OR. In fact, in some cultures, like Japan’s, it’s considered polite to wear a surgical mask if you’re experiencing a cold so you don’t pass it on to others.

So, whether you’re sick or just trying to prevent a cold, don’t be afraid to wear a surgical mask to protect against airport germs.


7. Keep the air vents on

Keeping the vent a-blowin’ may seem counter intuitive. (Didn’t you just tell me plane air can dry out my nose?) Well, yes, but the air on planes is filtered. So being near a sick person and coming in contact with their germy hands is a much more likely way to contract a cold than inhaling contaminated air.

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