There are few environments that can spread sickness more easily than a packed plane of people all sharing the same limited space and recycled air. We've all experienced the dread of sitting next to a coughing passenger on a long flight—and we'd rather not think about the countless germs we'll encounter on the blankets and armrests we use. Below, we've rounded up the top ways to prevent getting sick on a plane, so you can enjoy your vacation to the fullest upon touchdown!
Wear your shoes throughout the whole flight.
If you're tempted to lean back and slip off your shoes once you're in the air, you may want to think again, especially when making trips to the bathroom. Why? Apparently, those wet spots on the floor may not be as innocent as you think. According to House Beautiful, a group of flight attendants recently revealed that plane toilets aren't thoroughly cleaned between flights—aside from a quick spray and restock of toilet paper—and the floors are rarely washed. Yikes!
Flight attendants also shared that when someone on board gets sick, the crew usually attends to the problem area with light "spot cleaning." In essence, your bare feet could be resting on the residue of someone else's regurgitated dinner.
Don't use the tray tables.
Although it might be a little less convenient to balance your food on your lap, you'll be thankful that you did, because tray tables are covered with germs. A scary fact: The average human loses 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells every hour. Our skin is blanketed in bacteria, some of which are harmful. Plus, research claims that bacteria can live on a plane up to a few days. Just imagine what you could come in contact with on an international flight.
Use your own blanket and pillow.
Don't be fooled by the new packaging. Unless you're on the first flight of the day, it's likely that your blanket and pillow have been recycled (without being washed) from previous passengers.
Open your air vent.
Good circulation prevents the spreading of airborne illnesses, so make sure to keep the air flowing. If you get cold easily, always bring an extra sweater for the journey.
Drink lots of (hot) water.
Air can be up to 55 percent drier on planes, so it's important to stay hydrated when flying. Sip in spurts, rather than chugging, to absorb more water into your system. And if you're a tea or coffee fan, good news! The steam from your hot drink will keep your protective membranes moist in the dry cabin.
Make sure your meal is hot.
According to previous Food and Drug Administration reports, shocking amounts of debris and bacteria were found in in-flight meals. While we hope this issue has since been resolved, the FDA still advises that you ensure you receive a hot meal—the heat will kill any harmful bacteria.
It's especially important to be fully rested in order to fight off illness. When you're sleep deprived, your immune system doesn't function optimally, and you're more likely to get sick.
All in all, don't let any of these tips deter you from flying—just make sure to keep them in mind and take caution for a happy and healthy vacation!