How to Protect Your Immune System for Winter Travel

How to Protect Your Immune System for Winter Travel

How to Protect Your Immune System for Winter Travel

Air Travel: Let’s get a few hundred people together, squeeze them into a tiny, pressurized tube and ask them to remain sedentary for several hours.

If you’re a germaphobe, just the thought probably has you reaching for the Purell right now. Airplanes can seem like a breeding ground for illnesses. Add to that the threat of cold and flu season and a healthy trip might seem impossible. Taking care of yourself before your trip and exercising caution as you go are your best bets for avoiding illnesses. Here are some travel tips to prepare yourself and to build a strong immune system for winter travel!

Before you go

Schedule a wellness checkup

Make an appointment to see your family doctor before traveling. Your doctor can advise you of any immunizations you will need based on your destination and make sure you are fit to fly. Make sure you will have enough of your any prescription medications to last the duration of your trip.

Get sleep

The excitement and preparation that goes into trip-planning may tempt you to pull some late nights. Avoid this at all costs! Your body needs plenty of rest to fight viruses — especially if you will be changing time zones. Get a full 8 hours each night as you prepare to travel.

Take your vitamins

Don’t forget to stay consistent with your vitamins before, during, and after your trip. Talk to your doctor about a good multi-vitamin and other supplements such as fish oil or calcium before you go. Travel can cause us to change our eating habits and it’s much easier to become vitamin-deficient.

Pack healthy snacks

If you’re not prepared with your own healthy snack, you’ll be stuck with a tiny bag of pretzels… or whatever the airport has to offer (a Snickers bar that will cost approximately one full day’s wages). Stock up on some nutritious, TSA-approved snacks to keep your body full of good fuel. Trail mix, Larabars, and produce like carrot sticks, apples and oranges work well!

On the plane

Wash hands

This might seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget when you’re in a hurry or trying to avoid the airplane bathroom. Wash well with soap and water, and keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer on you for emergencies.

Wipe down surfaces

If you usually roll your eyes at that person who scrubs down every hard surface with a Clorox wipe before they sit down, this might seem laughable. Yes, you can take this one too far. But when you realize how many people cough and sneeze on your tray table and how rarely they get cleaned, you may reconsider.

Pick a window seat

Studies show that the window seat is your safest option for avoiding airborne illnesses. The aisle seat is the worst. This is because of the fact you will have less interaction with other passengers if sitting near the window. This may sound like too small of a factor to make a difference, but the numbers consistently show that it helps. As a bonus, a window seat offers great views and an extra place to rest your head when trying to catch a mid-flight nap.

Stay hydrated

Did you know airplanes are drier than the Sahara Desert? The humidity on a plane is typically between 10-20% as opposed to the 25% of in the Sahara and 30-60% we are accustomed to. The desert-like conditions of the airplane cause the protective mucus of your nose and throat to dry up. This creates the perfect environment for germs and bacteria to thrive. Stay hydrated to prevent illnesses as well as fatigue, headaches, cramps and much more!

For more tips on staying healthy and hydrated as you travel, see 6 Causes of Dehydration for International Travelers.

Traveling to the Philippines at just 8 months old, Shawna grew up loving all things related to travel and serving abroad. She is passionate about helping others travel safely and make the most of their time abroad.