SEAT SITTERS - TRAVELING WITHOUT GERMS
How to Travel Without Germs
Travel, while an exciting way to be exposed to new people and ideas, exposes you to germs. Popular work and tourism destinations are often crowded, as are many of the transportation options used for reaching these locales. This can fuel understandable fears about becoming sick while traveling as, for example, studies suggest that flying may increase the likelihood that you’ll catch a cold by 100 times.By understanding risks, taking sensible precautions, and keeping your immune system strong you can lower the risk of exposure to germs as you travel.
Staying Sanitary in Transit
Wash your hands before eating or touching your face.When you touch a surface in the vehicle, gems may transfer to your hand. Regularly washing your hands will lessen the chance that germs are exposed to your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Effective handwashing involves five steps: wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry. You should scrub for at least 20 seconds.
- Keep a small bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer nearby. If you do not have access to a sink, you can apply the dose specified on the bottle and rub your hands until it evaporates.
Wear shoes to the bathroom.Even if it’s difficult from your seat, put your shoes back on before going to the lavatory. Your socks may transmit germs from the bathroom floor to your luggage when you change clothes.
- Keep your feet off of seats and trays. If you place your feet on these surfaces you can spread germs from the floor to surfaces where they are more likely to infect you.
- Wearing shoes will also provide an additional barrier to prevent the spread of warts.
Don’t touch other people.Many common illnesses are transmitted through close contact with infected people.Germs can travel up to six feet from a sneeze.Limit your risk by maintaining several feet of separation from other travelers when possible. If you need to interact closely with a stranger, wash your hands after you finish.
Limit contact with items used by other people.Hundreds of people touch overhead bins, seatback pockets, trays, and vehicle doors every day. Several surfaces in an airplane can house germs for up to several days. Be aware of your surroundings and do not make assumptions that something is clean to touch.
- If you are staying in a hotel, disinfect commonly touched items, like a remote control, before using them.
- If you are flying, bring your own sleeping supplies in your carry-on bag or as your personal item. Airlines clean blankets and pillows sporadically, and bus and train seats are not cleaned between each trip.
Avoid resting your face on the seat.Likewise, avoid touching your face after contact with the seat or tray-table. These surfaces are not frequently disinfected and everyone else who sat there touched them and potentially spread germs.
Avoid railings.If you can, skip using railings and the tops of seats as you walk to your seat. Though these may be convenient tools for maintaining your balance, they are touched by many other travelers and germs can survive on these surfaces for several hours.
Wear a surgical mask.If you are sick, this will lower the amount of germs that you spread while traveling. As germs enter your body through your nose and mouth, a surgical mask creates a barrier that may also lower the number of germs that reach your system.
- Alternately, keep your nose hydrated with a saline nasal spray or by putting petroleum jelly on the outside of your nose. This can boost your body’s normal defenses.
Boosting Your Immune System
Eat a healthy diet.The immune system is complex and efforts to keep it strong should focus on lifestyle choices such as working to maintain a balanced diet. Many fruits and vegetables offer a wide range of vitamins and minerals that strengthen immune systems. Eat a variety of foods to make sure your immune system has all of the nutrients that it needs to keep you healthy.
- Fruits and vegetables such as berries, citrus fruit, and leafy greens are especially good for your immune system.
- Avoid foods high in sugar as sugar limits your immune system’s ability to fight off bacteria and infections.
Take vitamin supplements.Dining options may be limited while you travel. If you are unable to get the full recommended amounts of vitamins from your diet, vitamin supplements can help you keep your immune system strong.
- Make sure to take a daily multi-vitamin that contains no more than 100% of your recommended intake. Excessive doses can create toxicities that will harm your health.
- Over-the-counter supplements often make unsubstantiated boasts. High dose vitamin C tablets and lozenges may have minimal effect on your health. If consumed at the first sign of a cold, they may help you manage symptoms.
Get sufficient rest.You increase your chances of getting sick when you get too little sleep. When you are unrested, your body has higher stress and inflammation levels. Keep your immune system strong by getting consistent rest.
- High quality sleep does not always mean more sleep. Make sure you are sleeping between seven and nine hours a night.
Drink water.Stay hydrated by consuming water, fruit juices, and teas. Proper hydration strengthens your immune system by flushing toxins out of organs.
- The amount of water needed depends on the person. On average, men are encouraged to drink roughly 3 liters a day, and women should drink approximately 2.2 liters daily.
- You cannot take bottled beverages with you through airport security, so buy a bottle of water from an airport restaurant or shop. A bottle of water has less germs than a public water fountain.
Limit alcohol consumption.Moderate alcohol consumption may improve the functioning of your immune system. Heavy drinking, however, harms the immune system.
- Drinking alcohol immediately before or during your trip can weaken your immune system. Alcohol is an immunosuppressant that may impact your ability to ward off infection.If you have been or anticipate being exposed to an infection, alcohol may increase your risk of becoming sick.
Planning Ahead for a Healthy Trip
Avoid unnecessary trips.You can lower your risk of exposure to germs from travelling by taking fewer trips. When you have to travel, choose less crowded travel options if you can. Driving a rental car may take longer than flying, but it could significantly lower the number of people with whom you need to interact and thus lower your risk of getting sick.
Pack sanitizing items.Prepare your carry-on luggage so that you will be able to clean your hands and space easily. Certain items may not be available at the airport or train station, and they will cost significantly more if they are available. Once you secure the right items, you can stash them in a travel bag so you’ll always have them for future flights.
- Carry disinfectant handy wipes. A pack of disinfectant wipes will allow you to sanitize surfaces you need to use while on the plane, train, or bus. These can be a great help since you don’t know when the restroom was last disinfected.
- Pack a face-mask from a drug store. This can be used to a physical barrier to germs while you are seated in a cramped cabin.
- Bring your own magazines and entertainment options. The magazines provided by the airline have been used by many people and some germs can survive on paper for hours or even days.
Schedule time to relax and recuperate.It’s easy to overextend yourself while you’re traveling. This will leave you tired and feeling stress, which makes infections more likely. Plan your arrival and departure times so that you will be able to rest before exerting yourself.
- Anticipate jet lag. While it’s uncommon to experience jet lag from taking a short flight in the same time zone, longer flights that cross time zones increase the risk. If your trip may disrupt your sleep patterns, try to schedule an extra day after your arrival in order to adjust.
Travel during less popular times.Avoid illness by limiting your possible exposure to germs. As morning flights are less convenient, taking an early flight might lower your exposure to people. If you can schedule your bus ride for the middle of the week, there is a good chance that it will be less crowded.
- Holidays and weekends are the most popular flight times.
- Certain destinations experience heavier traffic during certain times, such as beach spots during spring break. Plan to visit these locations during off-season in order to lessen the chance of being on a crowded flight or full hotel.
Consult your doctor.If you are travelling to another part of the world, make sure that you have all required and recommended vaccines. Requirements vary by region, so check the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website () once you know where you will be traveling.
- If you do get ill while traveling, consider contacting your doctor’s office. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may be able to prescribe an antibiotic with a phone call. Proper treatment can help you recover, as well as help your fellow passengers remain healthy.
- Don't spread your own germs: when you sneeze or cough, use tissue and sanitize your hands.
- Avoid overusing alcohol-based hand sanitizer because it dries your skin and removes healthy germs from your skin.
- Airplanes filter their recycled air. Your greatest chance of getting sick comes from sitting near a sick person. Ask to be relocated away from an obviously ill person if there are open seats.
Video: How Far Can Germs Spread When you Cough or Sneeze?
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