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Tips For Germ-Free Travel

3 Tips For Germ-Free Travel

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Whether you're going by boat, plane, train, or automobile, travel bugs are bound to greet you. Here, some cringe-worthy stats on germs and traveling — and tips on how you can take a trip unscathed.

Stay Hydrated

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the air inside planes has anywhere from 10 to 20 percent humidity, which can dry out mucous membranes and make people more susceptible to germs. Staying hydrated throughout the trip can prevent nasal passages from being irritated, so load up on water and skip the carbonated beverages and booze. "Alcoholic and caffeinated drinks should be followed with water or fruit juice to rehydrate because they are diuretics and can cause water loss," advise Ray Fillmore Garman, MD, MPH, and Susan Spengler, MD, both associate professors with the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Kentucky. Sipping on water assists with immune function — and in some cases even helps with jet lag. For longer, international trips pack electrolyte-friendly snacks like GU Energy Chomps, a banana, nuts, or a small bag of fortified cereal to keep drowsiness at bay.

Keep reading for two more healthy travel tips after the break.

Move Seats

During flu season, jet setters are justifiably concerned about getting sick while globetrotting long distances on airplanes. And those worries come well backed by research. "There are two ways that infectious disease spreads — one is by droplets in the air and the other is when we touch a surface that is contaminated," says Larry Weiss, MD, cofounder and chief scientist at CleanWell, a company that makes sanitizers and household cleaning products to kill germs without the use of harsh chemicals.


But breathe easy — the majority of modern commercial aircrafts have HEPA filters (similar to what hospitals use to keep the air clean) that introduce fresh air into the cabin and capture more than 99 percent of the airborne microbes. Even so, studies have shown that the chance for post-flight disease increases when seated in a "hot zone" (two seats to the front, side, and behind an ill passenger). Speak with a flight attendant about relocating if someone near you is sick and if you can't use a saline spray like Flight Spray Nasal Hydration Spray to keep your nasal passages moist — it could help your health post-flight.

Skip the Pillows and Blankets

Who doesn't want to create a comfy cocoon while soaring 30,000 feet above the ground? Feel free to nest, but bring you own fluff from home. "Airline pillows and blankets are meant to be changed after every use and flight, however there are no government rules regulating this as such," says Bill Miller, SVP of the discount flight site Roughly once every couple of months, an aircraft interior will go through a thorough cleaning, but there's no way to know whether the cover in your seat came straight from the dryer or the dirty hamper. "Per FAA guidelines, an airplane inspection, called a C check is done after a certain number of flying hours — usually every 18 to 24 months. During that C check, an airplane is overhauled and everything is examined and cleaned," says Miller.

Err on the side of caution and bring your own carry-on comforts, like the Cat Nap Transit Pillow. It comes with a removable ultra-soft and washable fleece cover so you can snooze without worrying about getting sick.

Keep reading for more germ-free travel tips this season.

More from FITNESS Magazine:

QUIZ: Test Your Germ IQ

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