More than one in five people will come down with a cold or other illness after taking a flight, and unfortunately, airplane conditions are perfectly primed for the spread of disease. Re-circulated air is said to spread germs (although some have disputed these claims), and cramming lots of people into an enclosed space doesn’t help either!

Luckily, there are preventative steps you can take both before and during the flight, to minimise your chances of getting sick. If you’d like to know how to protect yourself from illness and germs during your next flight, see below for some handy tips.

Get plenty of rest before you fly

You can give your immune system the best chance at defending you from germs if you ensure you’re well rested before boarding the plane. This may not always be possible if you have a very early flight, but aim for seven to eight hours of sleep the night before, and give yourself enough tech-free time before bed so you can properly wind down.

Stay hydrated

The lack of humidity due to the high altitude on board is very dehydrating, and the lack of moisture can dry out your skin, eyes and mucus membranes in your throat; making you more prone to infections and illness. It’s recommended that passengers drink 250ml of water for every hour of the flight (bring a reusable bottle if flight restrictions will allow), and use a hydrating face mist to keep your skin moisturised.

Sanitize your area

It’s a good idea to bring a pack of sanitizing wipes on board; use these to wipe down your armrests, tray table, seat belt and touch screen if there’s inflight entertainment. You should also bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer to use at regular intervals, and especially after touching the tray table or seat belt.

Avoid touching your face

It can be tempting to rub your face and eyes (especially if they’re feeling dehydrated and dry), but avoid touching your face as much as possible to prevent the spread of germs. It’s also wise to bring your own eye mask if you’re flying overnight or want to nap, and keep it stored in your bag when not in use – not on the seat or tray table.

Skip coffee and alcohol

It can be very tempting to hit the airplane minibar while flying, especially if drinks are included for free, but coffee and alcohol can rapidly speed up the dehydration process. The effects of alcohol are also greater at high altitude, so your liver has to work harder to process the toxins.

Staying healthy while flying is just one way to protect yourself while travelling, and if you need holiday vaccinations, a travel consultation, or an extra prescription for any regular medication, get in touch with Duality Health. Our private health clinic has everything you need to ensure you’re protected against any potential health risks while travelling, including vaccines against rabies, malaria, Hepatitis B and more. To book an appointment at our clinic, give us a call today or visit our website.