Staying healthy on flights
Travelling on a plane can be physically taxing on the body. Even healthy travellers are susceptible to picking up bugs on their journey. The following tips may help prevent arriving at your destination feeling a little under the weather.
Treat the symptoms before you fly and rest up
If you’re already feeling run down before you’re due to depart – it’s a good idea to take the day off before your flight and get as much rest as possible.
Get relevant vaccinations
It is important to research the country you are visiting and ensure you have had the relevant vaccinations.
Take supplements before travelling
Some supplements contain ingredients to support immune function and may help maintain hydration for frequent travellers. Check with your local pharmacy or speak to your GP about these cost-effective health boosters. Also think of taking travel sickness tablets, paracetamol or ibuprofen, anti-diarrhoea medication or anti-heartburn and indigestion products. It’s best not to assume the airline staff will have these products if you do not.
Don’t forget to pack vital prescription medications in your carry-on luggage
Enquire with the country’s embassy, high commission or consulate if the medicine is legal there. Travelling with unlabelled prescription drugs may be illegal in some countries. Check out our travelling with prescription medicine article on our website for more information.
Wash your hands
Professionals say this is the most effective way to stay healthy and to avoid unwanted germs. Use hand sanitising gel after hand washing – water on some planes can sometimes carry bacteria.
Avoid using the tray table if you can
This can be difficult on long flights when you need to have a meal. Eating off your lap could save you the risk of picking up unwanted germs. Also, wipe down the table and armrests with an antibacterial wipe first.
Bring your own pillow and blanket
There’s a chance that the blankets provided have been used and refolded from the last flight. If you don’t want to lug around a pillow, bring a clean pillow cover instead. If space is an issue, you can invest in an inflatable pillow.
Drink bottled water and go steady on the booze
The lack of humidity on the plane dries out mucous membranes which makes it harder to flush out germs and bacteria. Water aids in hydration and flushing out your system of toxins.
Jumping on the plane we are often quick to celebrate the freedom of travelling. Overindulging in alcohol could make you feel sick and dehydrated. It’s fine to have a drink or two to relax - but celebrating too much means you will have to make more trips to the bathroom, become dehydrated and get off the plane feeling lethargic.
Coffee and tea may also dehydrate you
These are diuretics and will increase the body’s dehydration.
Pack some nasal moisturiser
This combats nasal dryness when flying and by lubricating your nostrils will increase the activity of tiny hairs in your nose that are used to blow out germs. The ointment will also be good for treating dry lips when travelling.
Some nasal moisturisers have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties so can be used for minor burns, insect bites and even chafing! So a tub of this stuff could have many uses when travelling. If you don’t like the smell you could always try a nasal spray instead to moisturise nostrils.
Use a paper towel or an antibacterial wipe to open lavatory doors, bins and lift toilet seats
Bathrooms and bin areas can be full of germs and if people don’t wash their hands when they are finished you may be subject to pick up their parasites.
Don’t rub your eyes
Many people suffer from dry eyes when flying and rubbing them with dirty hands has been linked as one of the primary ways of transmitting cold and flu viruses.
If the person next to you is coughing, hacking up or obviously not well
Never be rude to a fellow passenger. You can always ask flight staff if there’s an empty seat elsewhere that you can move to.
Stretch and walk when you can
Stretching your arms and legs are a good way to get the blood flow to the lower limbs and avoid blood clots. Wear flight socks if you’re prone to this and notify the crew if you feel any strange symptoms such as swelling or pain.
Wear comfortable and loose-fitting shoes
This will provide you with more comfort if your feet swell up when flying.
Wear layers of clothing
You may experience feeling hot and balmy then very cold on the plane due to various micro-climates. Layers will help you regulate temperature, and it is best to wear breathable fabrics.
And of course – don’t forget to get your travel insurance.