Every South African traveller knows the drill: If you’re flying anywhere further than say, Mauritius, you’re probably looking at 24 hours of flying. Once you’ve cleared that first 10 hour leg to Dubai or Qatar, you’re in for another 14 hours to New York, 7 hours to Paris, 6 hours to Thailand or 13 hours to Melbourne. That’s a lot of time in a metal tube surrounded by hundreds of other people – and their germs.
How to avoid getting sick on flights
Now more than ever, being aware of your personal safety and hygiene on flights is vital. With the global fear around the Corona virus growing every day, international air travel is becoming more and more frightening – and more and more of a danger to your health. But even aside from major viral outbreaks like the Corona virus, did you know that you’re more likely to fall ill with something called “leisure sickness” than you are to get sick at home?
You know how you seem to always get sick on holiday? How you tend to spend your first day absolutely man-down with what feels like body flu? That’s because we’re all workaholics these days, and you’ve most likely “put off” getting sick because you actually just can’t afford to take time off. So as soon as you’re finally on leave, your body tends to let down its defences and you become vulnerable to colds, flu and other more serious viral illness.
Air travel means hours being blasted by air conditioning, surrounded by strangers coughing and sneezing into air that just gets recycled and pumped right back at you. And although the inside of your nose is coated with a thin layer of natural protection, the air conditioning quickly dries out that moisture, leaving you defenceless.
I’ve got a lot of international travel coming up this year, and I have been frantically researching “how not to get the coronavirus” and “can normal medical masks protect you from the coronavirus”.
So, how can you avoid getting sick while travelling? Here are 5 tips to live by when you’re travelling
1 Disinfect Everything
As soon as you take your seat, whip out the disinfectant wipes and give your tray table, arm rests, entertainment system and remote, seatbelt clip and anything else within sight a good wipe down. You might feel like a crazy person, but the real crazies are the people who don’t think twice about what’s hiding between those buttons while they’re scrolling through the film selection. Obviously you’re going to offer one to your fellow passengers, because why would you want them to get sick?
2 Boost Your Natural Defence System
Your nose is where your body filters the air you breathe, so it’s essential to keep your natural defence system up! You can use Bactroban (an ointment) or Nexa TravelShield (a natural nasal powder spray) to coat the inside of your nose and protect you from more than 200 airborne germs. I’ve seen more and more people also wearing surgical masks on planes, but after doing some research, I’ve found that regular surgical masks won’t protect you from the coronavirus. The N95 surgical mask will though, as it filters much finer particles.
3 Stay Hydrated
Although you can’t take large amounts of liquids through security when boarding an international flight, you can take an empty water bottle and fill it from a water fountain once you have cleared security. Because of the air conditioning, you actually need even more water than during a normal day. I normally take a sachet of Rehidrat to drink during the flight, which I actually think has also helped me avoid the terrible jet lag I am prone to!
4 Stock Up on Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant and is responsible for your body’s natural repair system and maintaining a healthy immune system. You should be taking a Vitamin C supplement as part of your normal vitamin routine anyway, but it helps to double up with a supplement like Efferflu C Immune or Airmune before a long-haul flight and continue taking it throughout your trip.
5 Keep Your Hands Clean
Keep a little bottle of hand sanitizer and some disinfectant wipes in your seat pocket, and wipe down your hands every few hours – especially before meals! While you’re at it, wipe down your cellphone too – it’s a hotbed for germs! As often as you can, wash your hands vigorously with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Also try not to touch your face at all – your eyes, nose and mouth especially.
Bonus tip: Don’t skimp on sleep before your trip. Make sure that your body is getting the rest it needs leading up to travel, so that you don’t fall victim to that first-day collapse! I hope these tips will help you to enjoy your next holiday without a cold!