As countries ease their restrictions, travel is back on, and everyone is eager to jump on a plane headed to their chosen destination. We’ve all been there — excitement in the air with plans carved in stone; you just can’t wait to get off the plane! But then, you hear it – a cough, a sniffle, and the crippling realisation that your fellow travellers are basically spewing germs everywhere.
With thousands of people getting on and off the carrier, there’s only so much the airlines can do to maintain proper hygiene, and like it or not, you cannot control other people’s actions. You can only take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from harmful bacteria and viruses.
While travelling during the pandemic pose to be scary, it shouldn’t deter you from seeing other countries altogether. Here are some ways you can do your level best to avoid germs when travelling via flight.
1. Stay healthy and hydrated
It goes without saying that you should keep yourself healthy before travelling (and at all times), like eating healthy food and taking all your prescribed supplements and medications. But keeping hydrated while flying is probably one that many do not practise, and (not) surprisingly, there is real science backing this one up.
It is without a doubt that flying dehydrates the body, which results in weakening it. An immune system not at its optimum level often finds it hard to fight against harmful germs.
So, while flying, why not resist the urge to consume caffeinated beverages like coffee (and some tea even) and opt for water instead?
2. Get comfortable and rest
Much like keeping yourself hydrated, getting enough sleep is another way to ensure that your body performs at its optimum level and improves the immune system. It’s tempting to look like a fashionista when getting off the plane, but we recommend wearing comfortable clothing to promote rest on the plane. Cute can be comfortable too, ya know?
Another way you can get comfortable during a flight? Try meditation or sleep apps like Headspace. Like the hydration hack, sleeping is a type of body hack most frequent travellers employ in-flight to prevent getting sick, as it helps improve the immune system, which ultimately increases the chance of your body fighting off germs. So while you may be tempted to get catch up on your shows, you should prioritise sleep.
3. Wear a mask
This one may be a no-brainer by now, but with restrictions easing, not everyone wears it as often as they should. While sitting in your seat may feel like your own personal space, remind yourself that it’s still a public area and that the best way to protect yourself from infected air particles is to wear a mask.
Wearing them can reduce the amount of virus in the airspace too. Sometimes people may not even be aware of being sick and can still expel germs through their breathing, which can infect another person easily if both aren’t wearing masks. So, again, be sure to wear a mask, and the right one, in the right way, covering both your nose and mouth. Believe it or not, your chin doesn’t need protecting.
4. Keep your hands off your face
Remember when the pandemic started and only then most of us came to know the duration it takes to properly wash our hands? The answer is a whole 20 seconds. And just because rules are easing doesn’t mean you should put an end to this practice, especially when air travel and public spaces are involved.
The next step is to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible, especially with unwashed hands. These facial parts are literal portals for viruses to enter your body. Even if you have a mask on, try your level best to keep your hands away from your face.
5. Use antibacterial wipes
Can’t get to the washroom to keep your hands clean? Or perhaps you want to err on the side of caution? Consider antibacterial wipes! Carry some with you while travelling and use them on high-touch-point areas like seatbelt buckles, door handles, tray holders, etc.
Wimpy wiping them isn’t as effective as you think; apply some elbow grease to wipe down the non-porous surfaces. It is also best to ensure the surface stays visibly wet after wiping for the germ-killing process to kick off.
6. Use hand sanitiser
As we’ve been repeatedly reminded (for a good reason), keeping your hands clean and germ-free is the simplest and quickest way to prevent getting sick. You should wash your hands as frequently as possible and wipe them down with antibacterial wipes when it’s not possible.
Afraid of waste build-up? Carry a hand sanitiser instead. And make sure your trusted spray or gel bottle contains the minimum recommended amount of alcohol, which is 70%.
7. Clean your tray table
We’ve all seen videos online of travellers swabbing the tray table, only for the sample to test positive for COVID-19. While seeing something like that is super scary, you can’t trust everything you see online, though it doesn’t hurt to (read: thoroughly) clean your tray table.
The fear of tray tables being one of the dirtiest parts on a plane is founded because it is often touched by many. Routine clean-ups are standard between flights, but you can never be too safe as cleaners may not have the luxury to disinfect between flights properly.
The best practice would be to wipe them down with alcohol wipes or spray them with your sanitiser and clean with a tissue.
8. Consider going snack free
If you’re on a short flight or flying with a budget airline, you may want to opt out of snacking or eating an entire meal as it requires taking your mask off. Of course, you shouldn’t starve yourself, and this is only if you want to be super duper cautious and lower the risks of contracting something during the flight.
Ultimately, contracting COVID-19 or any kind of virus depends on luck too; while we can do our part by practising all the above things, sometimes, instances are out of our control. Remember to wear a mask, wash your hands, and social distance whenever possible. Don’t forget to stay up to date with travel notices, hot spots, and local regulations regarding travel to keep safe too.