We’ve all been there.
It’s Monday morning. You’ve hurried through the airport, waited in a long security line, and jockeyed to be the first in your boarding group on an oversold flight. Finally, you settle into your seat just as the flight attendant announces that the plane door is about to close. Although the chances are slim, you hope that no one will sit next to you because you’re jammed in a seat that won’t recline. And just when you think lady luck is on your side, someone makes a beeline for the seat next to you. As they stow their belongings, they cough and sneeze only half-way covering their nose and mouth. Suddenly, you’re hit with the realization that you are in a flying germ incubator and that your business trip and weekend plans are in jeopardy.
24 to 48 hours later, you find yourself in a hotel room with a raging headache, fever, chills, vomiting, and dependent upon hotel staff and well meaning co-workers for help.
All you can think about is how bad you feel and how desperately you want the creature comforts of home.
If you’re reading this you’ve probably just had a road warrior flashback. And like you, I’m a road veteran who experienced this situation too often.
After one particularly hard year, I decided to learn how to stay healthy through my own non-scientific experiment.
And the good news is that with a little bit of planning you can stay healthy too.
1. Board at the End
This defies the logic of every seasoned traveler, but unless you want to wear a surgical mask which will provide only partial protection, standing in a cramped boarding line will prolong your exposure to germs and viruses. According to many experts, a cough or a sneeze can travel up to 3 to 6 feet and is absorbed immediately in the body.
2. Use Disinfecting Wipes
Wipes kill surface germs and flu viruses with greater strength than hand sanitizers. When you board the plane, wipe down arm rests, tray tables and any surface that you’ll touch with your hands.
Keep in mind that hotel rooms are nasty as planes. Germs can live on surfaces from 24 to 48 hours and are easily transferred to other surfaces by cleaning crews that seldom wear gloves or masks. TV remotes, desks, and light switches are the worst so wipe them down!
3. Use Nasal Spray and Eye Drops
Just like the Dead Sea, nothing lives in salt. Germs and viruses adhere to dry places like our nose and eyes during flight. Using saline nose spray and eye drops before a flight, and once or twice a day while traveling, keeps them the area moist and germ free.
4. Take an Immune Supplement Packed with Vitamin C
Traveling puts your body under stress with new timezones and climates. Taking tablets or powder supplements before flight and while traveling gives your immune system an added boost.
5. Use Ear Plugs, Sleep Masks, and White Noise
Constant stimulation associated with air travel wears us down mentally and physically. Ear plugs worn while in the airport or on flights can help block out background noise and allow the brain to relax. Eye masks along and white noise apps can also facilitate relaxation allowing sleep to come faster and your body to recharge.
6. Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol can not only disrupt sleep but lower the overall immune system function, making it susceptible to infection and injury. Limiting alcohol consumption during social events and business dinners is tough, but replacing it with a healthy alternative like sparkling water will not only bolster your immune defenses, but increase hydration and shave off calories.
7. Prepare to Eat Healthy
Eating healthy on the road isn’t easy, especially if you’re traveling without a car or staying in a hotel that doesn’t have a refrigerator. Folding coolers along with a gallon bag for ice are a great solution. Small and compact, they slide into a roller bag’s front zipper compartment, making them light weight and easy to carry. Hotel concierge clubs and local grocery stores typically have small disposable items that will keep overnight.
8. Stay Hydrated
Hydration is not only important to regulate our energy, but it helps wash germs and viruses from our bodies system. Staying hydrated is easy when bottled or filtered water isn’t readily available. Traveling with a collapsible water bottle makes it easy to carry and fill up when you see a water fountain.
And now you no longer have to look at your fellow travelers with dread. You can fly the friendly skies arm knowing that you’re armed with best possible defense. Safe travels!