Crowded airports. Long delays. Flu season. Flying over the holidays is such a joyous occasion. Unfortunately, for many, it’s unavoidable. Your physical presence is required—unless you want to hear about it from your mom and Aunt Dina for the next 20 years—so you book flights home for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
To add insult to injury, holiday travel season is ready to give your health and well-being a run for its money. While Netflix and a cocktail may save your sanity, there are many health pitfalls awaiting you. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy while flying this holiday season:
To put it lightly, airplanes and airports are disgusting! We’ll save you the gross details, but be warned: many surfaces are breeding grounds for bacteria. The dirtiest? Your airplane tray table. Arm yourself with disinfecting wipes so you can clean your tray table, overhead air vent, and seatbelt buckle before settling in for your flight. And sanitize your hands after touching drinking fountain buttons and toilet flush buttons—these items are covered in bacteria.
Moisturize Your Nose
Climate-controlled airplane air has extremely low humidity—drier than the Sahara—which can dry out your nose. When your nose is dry, its functions are impaired, making you more susceptible to germs (and there are lots of them around). To decrease your chances of getting sick, use a nasal saline solution throughout your flight to keep your nose moisturized.
Drinking plenty of water is always important for your health, but even more so when you fly. Airplane food contains a lot of extra salt, which can contribute to dehydration. Combined with the low humidity on airplanes—which actually causes your body to lose water—flying is a recipe for dehydration. It is recommended you drink eight ounces of water for each hour of a flight. And avoid excessive alcohol use before or during your flight, as this only makes dehydration worse.
Stretch Your Legs
Some swelling in your legs and feet is normal from flying and shouldn’t last long afterward; however, if excessive swelling persists several hours after, it may be a serious medical issue, like a blood clot. To reduce your risk and relieve swelling, keep your legs uncrossed when seated, and frequently flex your calf muscles, extend your knees, and move your ankles. Every hour, try to stand and walk around, too.Airplane travel during the holidays may test your stress levels, but don’t let it make you sick. Be prepared to fight off germs and stay healthy so you can arrive at your destination ready to celebrate the festivities.