A hypochondriac’s advice: How to fly during cold/flu season without getting sick

This is certainly what it feels like to me! Photo credit.

That man.

That man I married? He didn’t kiss me for almost a week! In the Redden household, that’s tantamount to high treason as the Mrs. (um, me) has a slight kissing obsession. (I can’t help it if Mr. T has tempting lips!)

In any case, he kept them off limits from me thanks to a horrendous head cold I picked up on my flight home from Orlando a couple weeks back. I can’t say I completely blame him, as much as I want to. The crappy thing? I blame myself for not following my own rules! My hypochondriac’s rules for flying, of course.

Take heed my friends, these five (mostly just common sense) tips have kept me well despite my near-weekly flying schedule this past year:

1. Carry Wet Wipes, use liberally. Want to know the germiest places on planes? Tray tables, seatback pockets, and bathrooms. I don’t care how germaphobe-esque I look, I use a Wet Wipe on all hard surfaces near me once I sit down–Arm rests, tray table, seat belt buckle, and if I’m sitting by the window, the panel that I might lean against to sleep. Bacteria can live on hard surfaces for three days!

2. Douse yourself with alcohol gel at key intervals. Especially if you’re eating on the plane, clean your hands! Double clean them if you use the onboard restroom. I know lots of people who are anti-alcohol gel and go on and on about how some bacteria are good for the immune system. Certainly. But when I’m flying in a giant germ factory, I’d like to limit my exposure as much as possible. (Guess who lost her purse-sized hand sanitizer just prior to this last trip??)

3. Bump up the vitamins. Before, during, and after flying. I’m serious, people. Especially if you’re taking long flights, suck down some Emergen-C or Airborne to bolster your immune system. (I’m favoring Juice Plus chewables lately. Why I didn’t bring them on the plane?? Beyond me.)

4. Drink tons of water. Or gallons, whatever. Flying stresses your system and dries out the sinuses. Keeping yourself hydrated is important for staying well (and getting better, apparently).

5. Don’t touch your face. Best way to introduce germs into your system? Touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Don’t do it.

Unsubstantiated bonus tip: If folks are hacking and sneezing, I’ve heard it’s helpful to position the  overhead air vent towards your face. Now, this was a suggestion from a supposed doctor on Twitter who responded to me whining about the chorus of coughing on one of my flights. I have no idea if blowing away the germs would actually work, but it’s worth a shot. Maybe?


P.S. Oh and apparently I’m not alone in my cleansing rituals… Click here for a NY Times article about a kindred germaphobe.

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