I’m happy to report that I rarely get sick while travelling and neither do most of my companions. Whether it’s a 15 hour flight across the ocean to Australia or a quick jaunt to New York City, there’s rarely a better or worse time to fly. It’s all about what you make of it.
Top Myths about Germs and Flight:
- Flying during the winter means more cold and flu germs. They’re there year-round. Don’t fool yourself. And if it’s not a cold, there’s e-coli, stomach flus and more circulating through the air at all times.
- Just don’t touch your face and you’ll be fine. Lets see you try to remember that when you get a sudden eye itch or sneeze attack.
- Breathing in cabin air is the biggest concern on flights. Most aircraft are equipped with HEPA filters so the air isn’t as bad as you think. I’d be much more concerned about the harder surfaces and seat upholstery (which is rarely cleaned)
- Pillows and blankets are cleaned (hence the disposable covers and sealed plastic wrap!? Wrong! Some blankets are cleaner than others. But when it comes to the pillows, most are just crammed into the overhead compartments between flights where luggage (ew) is stored. Then people curl up with the filth right against their face. Not a good idea. Bring your own pillow that can easily be laundered (many designs can’t be washed and that’s not the best idea — you might as well use the airline supply)
- Aircraft are cleaned between flights (hence the ever so common delay at the gate). Crew tidy up old newspapers and trash but you can guarantee they’re not sanitizing seats, vacuuming or wiping down your table tray. There would be a huge delay at airports if a full clean ensued between de-boarding and boarding. Some reports and studies (online) say planes don’t receive a deep clean until after dozens of flights have passed. It’s not monitored so they can pretty much do what they want. Keep that in mind…
Angie’s Tips on Keeping Germs Under Control:
- Bring antibacterial sanitizing wipes in your carry-on. Wipe down every hard surface in your vicinity and don’t be shy. Go for it! I scrub off old residue under the watchful eyes of other passengers every single flight. I could care less.
- Line your nostrils with petroleum jelly or anything balm by Ours by Cheryl Hickey. Sure, you’ll have glistening nostrils for the duration of your trip, but coating your inner nose will prevent most germs (coughs and sneezes) floating through the air from sticking to the hairs. In the end, this one tip could easily save you (and your family) from a brutal cold while on vacation. I reapply throughout the flight whenever I feel the coating drying up or after I’ve blown my nose.
- Stock up on safe toy sanitizing wipes. If you’re travelling with small children who tend to drop toys on the floor and shove random things in their mouth, you’ll want to ensure you’ve got a supply of wipes to keep things clean. I always, always bring Aleva Natural Bamboo wipes. They’re safe to apply on toys and you’ve not using the chemicals you’d be using to actually sterilize the seat (tip #1)
- Bring a muslin sheet or blanket for the seat. If you’ve got small kids with you who might lay down or climb on the seat, I highly recommend packing something to line your seat. The fabric on the chair is rarely, if ever, properly cleaned and you can bet there’s been some stinky feet, food spills, snotty noses and other gross germs adhering to the upholstery over the years. I recommend muslin material only because it’s so light and thin that it takes up very little room in a carry-on.
- Avoid storing things in the seat pocket. Although the temptation is there (right in front of you), I would highly recommend you don’t shove your paperback book, toddler toys and sweater into the seat pocket. Those things are crammed full of filth and germs. Unless you take each item out (safety instructions, menu, magazine etc) and wipe it all down (which I have done on longer journeys) I advise you to keep clear of it and use your bag stored between your feet. Sure, you might have to bend down to grab your book, but the stretch will likely feel good on our lower back.
- Eye drops. Along with the nostril lining, I recommend eye drops. Extra moisture in your eyes will, again, prevent germs from really latching on. If the surface of your eye is slippery, it’s less likely that a germ can attach itself there.
Overall, it may seem like I’m recommending that you bog yourself down with a ton of non-essentials for flights, but most of the items above tuck into the exterior pocket of my diaper bag. It’s never been an issue for us. And, in the end, when you’re all vacationing germ-free after travelling here to there in your petri dish of a plane seat, you’ll thank me.