Do you have plans to travel this summer? If air travel is in your cards, then here’s what you need to know to get to your destination with your health intact! A recent study done in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences calculated how likely it is for people to contract the flu when there is an infected traveler on board. This is a great way to figure out just how much illness is passed between people on flights. Their findings were decidedly positive- that airplanes aren’t as germtastic as we assume and most people did not contractthe flu from the infected individuals. This, IN NO WAY, makes me feel better at all, and the only real lesson I learned from it is to choose a window seat, which statistically showed to have the lowest likelihood of contracting infection. For me, air travel is like a minefield- so many germs to dodge! Here are a few considerations to keep you healthy at the airport and in flight!!
1. Get socks on those feet when walking through the security checkpoint!
One time while traveling in the summer, I wore sandals and packed my socks. My husband saw a pair of socks in our trunk (they must have fell out of the carry on) and didn’t think to take them out as we were unloading at the airport. Obviously when I opened my bag to take out my socks, I was HORRIFIED. Cue the screaming, cursing and tears. Yes, I’m that grossed out by the airport floors- and with good reason! Check out this article which lists some gross bacteria, infections and fungi contained on that floor! Moral of the story? Always wear socks to the airport! If you ever find yourself in my situation, clean those feet with soap and water as soon as you make it through the checkpoint, and try not to kill your husband.
2. Skip the Self Serve Ticketing Kiosks
A recent study which swabbed various points of air travel found that the airport terminals actually have more germs than the airplanes. The worst offenders? Those touchscreen ticketing kiosks measuring in at “253,857 CFUs, followed by 21,630 CFUs on bench armrests and 19,181 on drinking fountain buttons, the study said.”
Just to get an idea of what this means, the typical kitchen counter has 361 CFUs (CFU stands for colony forming units which is how they measure quantities of germs). Once on board, be mindful of the three big germ sites - “the flush button on the toilets — 95,145 colony-forming units, followed by 11,595 CFUs on the tray tables and 1,116 CFUs on the seat buckles, according to the study.”
3. Unless you are the first flight of the day, pass up the airplane pillow and blanket.
It’s been confirmed here that after the first flight of the day, these items get refolded and reused throughout the day. Just think about all that drool on those pillows- yuck!
4. Choose your sanitizing products wisely.
These days, germ avoidance comes with a secondary, though equally important consideration- antibacterial products are actually making us sick. At minimum, opt for alcohol based sanitizers instead of ones containing antibacterial agent triclosan. Triclosan has been shown to promote the growth of the superbug (drug resistant illnesses). Triclosan is also a hormone disruptor, potentially causing fertility problems and birth defects. For alcohol free options, check out CleanWell’ s line of sanitizing products which use Thyme oil. Also check out these EO’s lavender hand sanitizer wipes for all those germy surfaces (they use sugar cane ethanol). Here is a handy list of ingredients to avoid in hand sanitizer.
I hope this post helps keep you safe this summer travel season! I’d love to hear where all of you are traveling to and any health tips you have while traveling!