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Airplanes: 5 Ways To Survive Against Airborne Germs

Updated: Apr 3, 2021

airplane germs pack

I didn’t want to do a “how to” type post two weeks in a row, but in light of the recent flu outbreak on the Emirates flight (which you can read about here), I figured it was worth writing about.

Especially as I’m going to be on 13 airplanes in the next 4 weeks. I don’t know about you, but at some point during our trip, particularly when encountering a number of people in an area of transport, I have always managed to get a cold. It’s ranged from just some sniffles to the full on flu. And each time sucks, especially when you can’t curl up in your own bed and sleep it off for a few days.

I was determined to not get sick on our last trip, so I did some research to see what I had to do to make sure I could make it from the beginning of the trip all the way home still feeling like myself. These were the tricks I learned…

5 Ways To Survive Germs On Airplanes

1. Build up your immune system before you leave

Elderberry has been my best friend. If I didn’t like my daily multivitamin so much, I would probably take Elderberry everyday to keep my immune system up. The syrup is great for actually treating colds, but you can also take it for a few days (like a week or so) before you leave for your vacation to really build up your immune system. I also brought a few capsules on our trip with us and took it a couple days before we left to be extra safe.

2. Bring individually wrapped sanitizing wipes in your carry-on

Sanitation wipes are so important when you are travelling, whether you are a germaphobe like me or not. I’ve read so many articles about how they “clean” the airplanes after each flight and really, why even bother.

At least with some of your own sanitation wipes you can clean off your seat belt, arm rests, seat back and tray table and feel a little better about your tiny area for the next however many hours you have to live there. I like the individually wrapped ones because you can throw them in your carry-on and even your purse if you need to wipe off a space at some other point during your travels.

In addition to this, make sure to keep hand sanitizer on you at all times. You never know when you’re going to have a close encounter of the gross kind and aren’t near some soap and water.

3. Use Your Own Supplies

For long haul flights they provide you with ear plugs, eye masks, head phones, and blankets. Well, another fun article I read was that those items get recycled… and not always cleaned, especially the blankets. I wanted to vomit when I read that and then saw flight attendant confirm the facts in the comments below. I used to always take the ear plugs especially because they help me sleep in hotel rooms that don’t have fans (don’t ask, I’m like the princess and the pea when it comes to sleeping). Avoid the possible sickness and make your own little travel kit that includes all of those. And if you’re cold, please just put your jacket over you.

4. Bring your own gum and water bottle

Chewing gum and drinking water so your ears don’t clog up from the pressure and cause an ear infection is flight survival 101. But I still got a nasty one on our trip back from London. It hurt so bad I was in tears.

However, instead of spending at least $4 for a bottle of water each time, get your own recyclable bottle and fill it up at fountain after you get through TSA. You’re also helping the environment. Just don’t be like me and drink the whole bottle before your flight. You will surely have to pee while standing in line to board. Also, gum is fine to bring through security (at least the ones I’ve been through), so don’t pay another ridiculous $3 or whatever for a pack. Get your own for 99 cents at the gas station and throw it in your carry-on. You’ll also be happy to have the pack after a delicious garlic dinner that didn’t provide mints with your check.

Oh, another fun fact I learned was that the water on airplanes is recycled (obviously) because there is only so much they can store onboard. Sooo… when they pour you a glass of water, where do you think it’s coming from at some point or other… yeah that one made me cringe too. Unless you know you’re getting your own unopened bottle of water, be safe and bring your own!

5. Leave your air vent open

I learned about this one most recently and it is something that I never do because I always get cold on long haul flights. However, the air coming through the vents is purified. So if you leave it open, even just a little bit, then you will at least have some constant movement in your area so the air doesn’t remain stagnant for hours.

Bonus Tip

If you’ve done all of these and still have an issue with getting sick on vacation, then you can always invest in a surgical mask to wear in the airports. I know so many people care about how they look, but fuck that (sorry). I’d so much rather look sickly walking through the airport than have to ingest a million germs. You can even write a cute little “what are you staring at” note to the front of it to make it more humorous.


And please remember, I’m not doctor, these are just my bits of advice from my personal travel experiences. So if you have underlying health conditions please consult with your doctor before traveling to make sure it is safe for you to do so.

So what are your secrets for staying healthy while traveling?

And let me know if you decide to incorporate any of the ones I shared here. I think they worked pretty well for me last time, but the true test will be when I get back from our honeymoon.

I’ll have to update then.

Come say hello over on instagram if you'd like to follow along on our big European adventure coming up.




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