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Tips for holiday travel: Avoiding airplane germs

Traveling during the holidays is stressful enough without the threat of catching a cold. Unfortunately, germs are all around us and they tend to gather in places where lots of people mingle and are in close quarters.

With so many people passing through airports, it can seem impossible to stay healthy. Some germs can live for hours on a surface, so there's no way to tell if you’re getting exposed. The last thing you want to do is search for urgent care locations on a holiday vacation. But holiday travel is often a necessity.

If you're one of the many people who are traveling for the holidays this year, rely on these tips to stay healthy at the airport and in flight.

Bring hand sanitizer

If soap and water are not available, the best tool at your disposal is a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. You're going to come into contact with various surfaces on your journey and not all of these will be clean.

  • After using the airport bathroom, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to kill most germs.
  • Use hand sanitizer after touching handrails and other public surfaces, and especially before drinking or eating.
  • You may also want to use hand sanitizer on armrests, seat belt buckles, seat pockets and tray tables, and after you’ve used the touchscreen on the back of your seat.
  • Pack a few sanitizing wipes in your carry-on to have handy.

Be mindful when using the bathroom

Sometimes, it's impossible to avoid using the bathroom, especially if you're on a 10-hour flight. It’s important to stay hydrated during a flight, so avoiding the bathroom is not much of an option unless you have a short flight.

Airplane restrooms host a slew of germs since so many people touch the same surfaces: the faucet, the door handle and the soap dispenser, to name a few. That's why so many health professionals recommend using paper towels to open doors and flush toilets. If you do need to use the restroom, reapply hand sanitizer when you get back to your seat.

Bolster your health before traveling

Traveling opens you up to a number of new germs, but bolstering your immune system can prevent you from getting sick.

  • Before you travel, be sure to take plenty of vitamin C. This helpful vitamin is known for boosting your mood, but it can also help supplement your immune system. In the few days leading up to and after your flight, take 1,000 mg of vitamin C each day.
  • You should also get your  flu shot before traveling. The Centers for Disease Control has found that an annual flu shot can reduce your risk of flu illness by 40-60% during seasons where circulating viruses are well-matched to the vaccine. Adults ages 19 and older can walk in to any Indigo Urgent Care clinic to get a quick flu vaccination.
  • Get extra rest before your flights. Sleep is helpful for your immune system.
  • Make healthy food choices. Order healthy airplane snacks or pack your own snacks (fruit, nuts, etc.) to bring with you on your flight.

These are just some of the ways you can stay healthy at the airport and in flight. But if you do come down with a cold or flu virus, you can rely on the friendly team at  Indigo Urgent Care to help you feel better. Visit any of our convenient locations in the Puget Sound area or the Inland Northwest (Spokane) region.


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