How to Stay Healthy When You Travel

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I may be a germ freak but the alternative is getting sick, and that can put a damper on any travel plans. Healthy travel begins with knowing where the germs are and taking preventative action.

On the airplane or in a restaurant

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When you touch door handles, faucets in the toilet or tray tables, keep in mind that flu viruses – capable of being transferred and causing an infection – can survive on hard surfaces for 24 hours, according to the National Health Service.

Avoid putting your bread or snack directly on the food tray or table.

Carry disinfectant wipes and use them to clean the tray table, armrest, rim of the seat pocket and the door handle to the bathroom. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizers before you eat.  Cleanse your hands again when you return from the airplane toilet.

Even when you are really sleepy, don’t rest your head on the food table.

The humidity in airplanes is very low, so the mucus membranes in your throat and nose get dried out. To keep your nasal passage moist and flush out germs, use a nasal mist.  

Airplane food has been linked to food-borne sicknesses. What can you do? The best solution is to avoid the food on the plane whenever possible. Bring your snacks and food from home. If you do buy food, eat what is packaged in a plastic wrapper. Touch a prepared meal to test for heat. If it’s not served very hot, return it.

What should you do if another passenger on the plane or a person at a nearby table in a restaurant is coughing or sneezing? Ask to change seats.  When I travel by plane, I pack a facemask in my carry on bag in case I get into the situation where I can’t avoid the sick passenger seated next to me or ahead or behind me.  

In your hotel room

Wipe down the remote control with hand sanitizer. Or use the clear plastic bag in the ice bucket to cover the entire remote control. How often do you think the remote control gets cleaned? Research shows that it has more germs than the bathroom.

Wear socks or slippers to avoid going barefoot.

Place a towel on the desk chair before you sit down, especially if your legs are bare.

Overall Health Tips

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Stay hydrated. Drink a bottle of water in the airport before you get on the flight, or in the car before you start a road trip. The idea is to start your journey well hydrated. At the security check you are required to toss out your beverages.  So I always carry an empty water bottle, pass through security, and then fill it at a drinking fountain before boarding the plane. When the flight begins I have plenty of clean drinking water and don’t have to ask, or wait for, the small cups served in most flights. When I arrive at my destination, I refill the water bottle at a drinking fountain before getting into a rental car or going to the hotel.

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Get a good night’s sleep for two days before you travel. If you are run down, you are more vulnerable to germs.

To boost your immune system and fight off colds and viruses, drink natural fruit juices.   

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About the Author: Matthew Greenspan

Matthew is a travel expert, writer, editor and digital marketer. He lives for seeing new places, learning new cultures and surfing new waves. He is based out of Toronto but travels the globe in search of the best travel stories and biggest waves.

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