Several weeks ago, we wrote about how one of the dirtiest places in the airport is the check-in kiosk at the front of the airport. Thousands of fingers poke at the screen every day, and no one cleans it off. Compare that to the airport bathrooms, which are cleaned hourly. In other words, the airport bathroom is much more sanitary than a computer kiosk.
Other germ-laden places you face during air travel? Armrests on the seats at the gates, armrests on the plane, and the tray tables.
And let’s not forget the security checkpoints. It turns out that the containers you send through the x-ray machine are also some of the nastiest places in the airport. Everyone touches the containers, but not everyone has clean hands.
The 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst in history, and we’re not sure what 2018-2019 is going to bring. And since it’s right around the corner, you’re at greater odds of getting sick when you travel this winter, so preventative measures are key to staying healthy.
One way to prevent the flu is getting a flu vaccination. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), now is the time to get one, and you should get it sooner rather than later, as it takes two weeks for the vaccine to provide the highly-desired protection. Even if the vaccine is not 100% effective, or you get infected with another strain of the flu virus, the vaccination reduces transmission in the population in general, as well as lessens your own symptoms.
If you want to avoid getting sick when you travel, there are a few precautions you should take. First, the CDC suggests carrying a travel health kit, consisting of tissues, soap, alcohol-based sanitizer, and pain/fever medicine. We’ll also recommend adding some sanitizing wipes as well. Having these items handy may reduce your risk of infection and keep you well.
Use the hand sanitizer whenever you touch a dirty surface, or use the sanitizing wipes to wipe down those surfaces before you ever touch them. Wipe down the the armrests at the gate and your armrests and tray table on the plane. Use the hand sanitizer once you board and again after you use the bathroom on the plane.
Avoid traveling when you feel ill. Should you become ill, your physician can prescribe drugs to treat the flu infection, making the illness shorter and milder. The same is true for a cold — it may not be as severe as the flu, but it can still put a damper on your trip.
And when you do travel, follow a few simple rules:
- Avoid close contact with people who appear sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough by doing it in your sleeve.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after you blow your nose or use the bathroom.
- Avoid touching your face if you’re in public because that’s often how the flu gets into your system — through touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with dirty hands.
- Finally, hygiene, sleep, drinking plenty of water, and eating right will greatly help reduce your risk of contracting most illnesses.