How to avoid getting sick on the plane

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As you already know, I live by travelling but November is going to be an extreme month for me. I have three international trips on two different continents combined with a few journeys to London too and when I’m on the road, my immune system is not as strong and it’s easier for me to catch colds. When I am travelling I don’t pay that much attention to eating healthy or keeping fit and I also take my body to extremes by challenging it with hikes, long walks, or even extreme sports sometimes.

Every time I board a plane I remember the trip I took in April, to Mallorca, which left me with a very nasty virus caught on the plane, during the journey back home. I had quite a hard time recovering from it as it got to my lungs, and it took almost two months to get completely healthy again.

Now I pay more attention and try to prevent catching a cold on the flight by using some simple tips:

 

I wash my hands regularly

Imagine how many people pass through airports and travel by plane every day. Did you know that in any given moment, there are around 200.000 planes in the sky?  With an average of 150 passengers per flight, imagine how many viruses make their way from one corner to the other of the world. Due to the air being circulated inside a plane, it’s very easy to get sick while you fly, and one of the easiest way of catching a virus is through your hands. It is important to wash your hands regularly with soap or hand sanitizer, as one of the dirtiest surfaces on a plane is actually the tray in front of you.

 

I try to avoid touching my face

I know this is a hard one to do as usually I am touching my face all the time. To avoid doing this I usually wash my face too, together with my hands, and I use a balm for my lips. One of the reasons why I’m touching my face on a plane is to check how dry my lips get, but if I use a lipbalm I won’t feel the need to do it all the time. I also try to use a moisturiser cream, to avoid the itchiness feeling that comes on a long haul flight, due to the dry air inside the plane.

 

I brush my teeth as often as I can

Your mouth can be a paradise for bacteria, especially when you are traveling for quite some time and don’t have a chance to brush your teeth in between meals. I always brush my teeth in the airport, before boarding the flight and at the end of the flight. There is nothing wrong with it and even if you might get a few funny looks, your health is more important. Plus, the airport bathrooms are one of the cleanest you will ever find in the world. Besides toothpaste, I also use a germ killing mouthwash, like Listerine, to make sure my mouth is clean and my breath is fresh. And when I get off the plane, having a fresh minty taste in my mouth actually helps me embrace jet lag better and be ready to explore the new city I just arrived in.

 

I drink a lot of water

Drinking water not only helps your body stay hydrated but it also helps your body keep its defence system up against viruses. Did you know that being dehydrated reduces your defence against cold viruses? I remember my very long flight back from Cuba, which kept me for over 48 hours on planes and inside airports, and I recall how badly my body was asking for water. Therefore, I drank a lot of water and I found that it also helped a lot with the jet lag. Avoid drinking alcohol, coffee or tea while flying because they also dehydrate your body. Just stick to water and your body will thank you.

 

Use ColdZyme

Sometimes you need to give your body a little help to protect you from the cold viruses. ColdZyme is a mouth spray that targets the the causes of the cold, not just the symptoms, and it also reduces the duration of the cold when used prophylactically. The spray works by creating a protective barrier on the mucus membrane in the throat. The barrier works by trapping the viruses and preventing them from binding with the human cells, helping the body to remove them naturally. You can buy ColdZyme from Boots, Lloyd’s Pharmacy or independent pharmacies nationwide.

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Disclaimer: Please note that I received ColdZyme for free to review it. However, all comments and opinions in this article are my own.

Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

82 Comments

  1. Agree eating healthy when travelling can be a challenge. But I think following the small steps in this post can turn out really beneficial. I had no idea about ColdZyme looks like it would help me avoid cold which I get more often through dust allergies. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I concur on your immune system not being as strong when travelling. I find if I am going for weeks, I start to feel rundown. It is like you need a holiday from your holiday afterwards. They are some great tips and I have never really thought about avoiding touching my face or brushing my teeth loads. I am definitely gong to keep this in mind for my next trip.

  3. Thanks for the post, I always wash my hands thoroughly – especially before eating! That is such a good idea about brushing teeth, I had never through o that before! I have never heard of ColdZyme but will definitely get some. I am a school teacher so that will come in handy this winter with the germs!

  4. I never got sick in the plane, although I can see how it can be a paradise for germs. Specifically on long haul flights! I avoid touching my face as well. Brushing the teeth les though, I love my window seat, getting in and out 3 times for a brush is out of question haha

  5. My immune system always take a hit on flights too. I’m always chugging lots of water but it’s such a struggle having to pee every so often when you’re not in the aisle seat haha. I pop a few echinacea before getting on the flight and it seems to help!

  6. I’ve never been sick on a plane but it must be awful! I also always wear lip balm (even at home) and brush my teeth a few times not so much for “health” reasons but to make me feel better especially on long flights & layovers. I would add disinfectant hand wipes – I always make sure to have some when I travel. 🙂

  7. Oh, I have never heard of ColdZyme but I will have to look into it. I also always carry hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes with me, as the plane tables are covered in germs. And I try not to eat plane food if I can avoid it as all the salt on top of being exposed to germs can’t be good for us. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Great advice I have lost count of the amount of times I have gotten of the place feeling like crap and knowing a virus has caught up to me. Thank god I never got sick on the plane.

  9. It’s hard to stay healthy on a plane with all that recycled air being pumped through. But your tips are sound, wash your head regularly, lay off the free beers (hard but try) and cleaning your teeth when you wake up, all sound advice.

  10. Glad that you shared this Joanna. It is very good to keep your body healthy every day. Don’t forget to drink vitamins recommended by doctors too. It’s very important to intake something that could help our immune system stronger. Good luck in your travel and keep safe.

    1. These are great pieces of advice.I find that during the latter part of the year like now my immune system is rather low as I am balancing so much on my plate.I try to take a multivitamin most days lol

  11. Thank you for those great tips! I usually wash my hands quite often (during a flight or not), same thing for the teeth. However I had absolutely no idea about ColdZyme! Really good to know it exists!

  12. I’ll always remember the time I got sick from a plane journey – a great way to ruin my 21st birthday celebrations! Travelling with small children is especially challenging in the health department as they are little germ factories and put everything in their mouths! I’ve not heard of Coldzyme so I’ll have to pick some up for my next trip.

  13. I always get sick when I travel! I have a horrible immune system 😛
    I try and drink a lot of water to stay hydrated, but its not always easy to find a good balance between drinking enough and not having to get up every 30 minutes to use the gross plane bathrooms!

  14. Great article! I too travel a lot and on many international flights between Europe and Australia, and whilst you’re up in the air for hours it is a lot easier to catch colds and illnesses, these are great tips!
    Drinking lots of water is crucial and exercising your legs to prevent DVT is so important!
    Thanks for sharing

  15. The numbers you’ve listed really put how easy it is to pick up germs while traveling. I also wash my face and hands frequently on long haul flights but now I’m going to also increase brushing my teeth as well. With so many people focused on vitamin C and Orange juice when traveling…it’s good to see that you’ve included the ultimate medicine of water.

  16. Very useful tips. I would like to add to that. To combat particularly motion sickness on a plane, divert yourself through music or book and then munch on something like a bag of chips. really helps.

  17. Great tips on staying healthy during the flight. I do wash my hands all the time, and if I want to avoid going to the bathroom all the time, I carry antibacterial wipes with me. Or, depending on how much there is in my cosmetic bag, the liquid antibacterial spray.

  18. I was meant to read this post! I easily get sick and quite often. In fact I got sick the day I arrived in Paris. My husband and I planned a 3 month trip to Europe all year long, if not more, and the day we finally arrived to enjoy our vacation I got sick! It was awful, not as bad as the illness you described, but it sucked! I will use your awesome tips to stay healthy when we travel. I think bot touching my face will be the hardest, but I really like the teeth brushing and that cold medicine. Brushing your teeth before you land to get that feeling of being refreshed so your not jet lagged is genius. So simple, yet genius! Thank you!

  19. You poor thing, that was a nasty virus you caught in April. It’s so easy to catch something on an airplane when you’re in a confined space and breathing in other people’s air as well. Washing hands and drinking water are big for me. You have a busy month ahead, looking forward to reading all about your adventures ☺

  20. Hubby and I get sick so often when we fly that this has been super helpful to avoid it! Jet lag runs me down and I have severe anxiety so both of these things affect my immunity. I brush my teeth many times too. Thank you for post this! I will be sure to try the ColdZyme.

  21. Getting sick during long flights is so common! I prefer to sleep it out but sometimes I really feel like looking at the views so I eat when not sleeping. Your suggestions seem pretty logical! 😀

  22. I do totally the same thins you mentioned in your post. In particular during long and international flights, especially in winter, is common to get sick easily. I always have an hand sanitazer always with me, and every time I touch something or before I eat I use it ahaha

  23. This is so interesting, because I think it’s so true! Getting sick on plane is so easy, because we might not be careful! Washing your hands, drink water and not staying under air conditionning is such important tips! I rather sleep or check out through the windows than watching movies haha! The plane menu isn’t my thing tho!

  24. I haven’t experienced a long hours of traveling by plane, but this is really a big help for me as a preparation in the future. I’m learning a lot from this blog post of yours and you’re really an inspiration for traveling a lot to other countries.

    LaiAriel

  25. This is nice idea for a post. I haven’t got too sick on planes, but I know it happens to thers. Your ideas are definately good, especially avoiding touchijg the face, which people can do more than they realise. Nice work.

  26. Drinking lots of water and staying hydrated is important when flying. Have you tried taking Vitamin C and extra strong garlic tablets too? I also find that eating the right food keeps your immune system in balance. Hope you have a better time flying in future.

  27. I also easily got sick during long travel, so I alway have waters with me, and I just sleep the whole hour flight, or even on the road. In this way, it makes my body and mind relax. And I don’t eat a lot during travel.

  28. Coldzyme sounds interesting; I don’t think we have an equivalent of the same available in India. This is informative for someone like me, who loves travelling.
    Thank you for the post!

  29. Yep…water is the trick. Everytime I do that and stick to a good water schedule, I am fine. Those are some pretty practical tips for a frequent traveler. well compiled

  30. Good advice. We often forget how germ ridden planes are! We also make sure to wash our hands before boarding and after landing. Recently we had a flight where I was recovering from a chest cold – felt bad for everyone around me. I tried to get as healthy as I could before our trip though.

  31. Flight sickness is the worst. I always feel nauseous in the cramped space. I find chewing on menthol drops helps a lot. Also like you said, lots of water. sometimes not watching anything on the tv or personal devices help, so ill just listen to music and close my eyes. If nothing works, I always carry a travel size box f Dramamine pills to keep sickness at bay.

  32. Thankfully I am usually not susceptible to air sickness. But I do take precautions like taking in lots of water to stay hydrated. and eating only what I think is neccessary for the body in terms of energy during the flight,

  33. Omg yes! I totally agree. I drink heaps and heaps of water, and I find that it really helps especially once I arrive to my destination. It’s my first time to hear of ColdZyme so I will have to check it out.

  34. This was an interesting read! I personally havent gotten sick on a plane in almost 12 years (Somewhere between 40-50 flights). That is because I do what you said! I would say staying hydrated and constantly washing your hands is of utmost importance. Here’s to 1000’s of flights hoping to never get sick! Cheers!

  35. Yeah traveling can be quite exhausting on the body, especially when you move around fast. I often catch a minor cold even on short flights. Guess I should start looking into ways to prevent it. Thanks for the tips!

  36. Where can i get that coldzyme? That seems to be promising. I havent heard about that yet in here. I agree with frequent handwashing. And yes i dont touch my face too when travelling coz hands are the most relevant carrier of viruses and diseases.

  37. A brave topic to talk about. I have a general fear of flying. I mostly travel withn my country on trains and buses. Air travel is something I avoid as far as possible. I wonder what I’ll do if I also catch some bonus virus apart from the usual discomfort I naturally feel!

  38. I remember my first trip abroad, I went to China and went home with fever and flu. So after that I always make sure to get my flu vaccine, if I haven’t got it from that year, before traveling to another country. That ColdZyme is interesting. I’ll check if it’s available in our market.

  39. Post every travel by flight i used to get terrible acne on my face. Now when I travel I ensure that I am hydrated also I don’t eat flight food. I make sure to carry some healthy food with me. Very informative article.

  40. Thanks for the health tips! I definitely can relate with not taking care of my health when I travel. I’m especially susceptible to colds so I’m definitely interested in trying out Cold Zyme- I wonder if it’s available in the Philippines though. In any case, thanks for reminding me to pay attention to my health. I have a couple of trips planned so will definitely keep this in mind. P.S. I’m very jealous that you’re taking 3 international trips in one month. 😛

  41. That does sound like an awesome idea. My medikit usually comprises of a pain killer, antacid, Crocin and wikoryl to give me protection. I also carry an antibiotic diarrhoeal episodes.

  42. Great tips! At first I thought this would be a post about how to avoid getting “plane-sick” (you, know, the paper bag situation), but turned out to be something else. Thanks for pointing out the washing hands bit, haha. I get really disturbed when I see people not doing that more often. And the amount of people in the plane that could potentially be carrying a virus of some sort is just terrible. Thanks!

  43. I can relate with you. I brush my teeth as often as I could when I travel. I have noticed other passengers who are not so eager to do this. I wash my hands a lot too. I bring hand sanitizers and wipes. I buy bottled waters at the airport because the water on board the plane is not clean. I ask for juice instead.

  44. Very informative post and tips are very useful. During travel i have a pain killer, Eno, Crocin and yes the cold protection spray that is must. Thanks for sharing.

  45. I absolutely love this and will be sharing it on Facebook as many of my friends love traveling as well. That’s awful that your trip back from Mallorca ended that way. Mallorca is on my list, so I will have to keep these tips in mind!

    Nina

  46. Interesting post. I do the handwashing and toothbrushing often too. We don’t know how many microbes and viruses are there so better be ready. I don’t want to get sick and ruin my trip that I would be looking forward to. Thanks for sharing.

  47. It was unfortunate that you caught a nasty virus on the plane before that left you sick for 2 months. Anyway, those tips are pretty helpful. Just to add to what you mentioned, we usually get flu vaccines when we’re going on long haul flights. Also, we get vaccines of possible air borne viruses that can be found on the certain country that we’re going to. I think those are also great tools for prevention of being sick on the plane.

  48. Handwashing seems so simple but it can actually prevent a lot of diseases. I used to travel by plane a lot. I’m thankful that I didn’t get sick after those flights. It would have been unfortunate not to enjoy a planned vacation because of sickness.

  49. Flights are the worst (or best) to spread disease. You get sick easily if you travel a lot, but also because of that, viruses can expand incredibly fast because of flights and touch everyone. And even travelling Europe, while some viruses might not change much compare to other exotic places, just the fact as you say that there’s so many people is enough to get sick. I had my first cold since I arrived in the UK a few weeks ago, and also the first one since a few years to be honest. I was really low at some point. Next time I will definitely give a try to ColdZyme. Never heard of it and I was only used ibuprofene. I’ll see how it goes when I’ll get the next cold, hopefully not soon Haha

  50. I don’t like flying either, but getting ON the plane is suicidal. Like George Carlin once said, “I’m getting IN the plane.” I used to pride myself on never getting sick. Then I made my first trip to Southeast Asia in 2013. Since then I’ve been sick more in these past few years than in the ten before. Although it won’t stop me from traveling, it is frustrating.

  51. Try doubling up on vitamins as well to give your immune system the extra boost so you don’t fall ill. I don’t really like to fly so I normally don’t experience getting sick

  52. Thanks for these tips! Especially on long haul flights it’s so easy to get sick. I fly a couple of times a month and always a bit worried about not to cathc anything.

  53. Thanks for such a experienced tips and I offen come across these situations when I board long flights. Coldzyme looks something I should be suggesting to my friend as he get caught with virus easily. Thanks you so much for sharing your experience.

  54. It is really important to be sanitized at all times especially when traveling. We don’t know what we could possibly get. Thence, I couldn’t agree more of it that it is important to be cleaned always. I am quite interested with the ColdZyme, I haven’t tried related to it but sure it is something to give a try.

  55. Agree traveling and being on the flight for a long period of time does take a toll on the immune system. Drinking lots of water and walking on the plane at regular interval always helps me. Have fun on all your upcoming travels.
    xx, Kusum

  56. Great tips shared! I try to moisturize my skin before boarding a flight and drink lots of water if a flight is for a longer duration. I also apply sanitizer on my hands several times to prevent it from germs.

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