Don't Let a Virus Put a Bug in Your Vacation
By Ashonda Bethea-Ruth
Spring is here, which means it's time to drop the textbooks and book a flight back home or to your favorite vacation spot. Beaches become a college student's playground and flights are booked weeks in advance. With all the running around involved in trying to get out of town, many students forget what precautions to take before getting on the plane.
Staying healthy during air travel is something many people don't think of pre-flight. Most people worry about getting through security, hoping some of their items won't be thrown away. But staying healthy during and after your flight can be as easy as following a few steps, to insure you have a healthy happy travel.
It is a fallacy that airplanes are full of germs. Half the air coming into the airplane at 30,000 feet is coming from outside, and is one hundred percent sterile. The rest of the air inside the plane is sterile, so one can breathe with ease. If you or someone else on the flight has a cold, make sure to keep hand sanitizer wipes with you, since liquids or gels are not allowed on the plane. These come in handy especially when you use the restroom, which is said to be the dirtiest spot on board. Those sanitizer wipes can also come in handy, not only for your hands, but you're your seating area as well. Air carriers with flight turnover times of less than an hour do not routinely disinfect the trays or other surfaces such as the armrests and windows. So wipe them down with an alcohol-based sanitizer when you first take your seat.
Make sure you are hydrated before you take flight. Given that the relative humidity in a passenger cabin can be as low as 10 percent on long flights, it's essential to drink as much water while in the air as possible; avoiding alcohol will help, too. Staying well hydrated can also help prevent mild altitude sickness, with symptoms such as headache, lightheadedness and nausea, which people often mistake for a post-flight cold or flu.
A recent study found that the likelihood of developing a cold was greater with less than seven hours of sleep, compared with eight or more hours of sleep. So get that extra shut eye, it could keep you from that wicked cold that could possibly ruin your vacation.
Lastly, the most common sense tip for staying healthy on a flight is stay away from the source. Studies have shown that the highest risk of germ transmission on a plane, by far, comes from those around you, particularly those seated within two rows. So although it might sound harsh, it may be wise to not sit next to the person hacking up a storm. Keeping the air turned on at your seat is also a wise precaution. When people cough, sneeze or speak, they eject up to 30,000 droplets, which can travel several feet. To minimize the chance of infected droplets landing on you, turn your air vent to medium flow and position it so that the air current is directed just slightly in front of your face. That will help direct germs away from your eyes, nose and mouth. Although this may seem a bit to remember a digest, remember it is for the best because you want your vacation to be fun, not drinking tea and sipping soup, trying to get rid of your cold.