How to Avoid Getting Sick on an Airplane

Millions of people fly each year. And in most cases, it’s perfectly safe and healthy to fly and you likely won’t have any problems. However, airplanes are packed with germs, and motion sickness can rattle you if you’re not used to flying. Here are a few tips to avoid getting any type of sick on an airplane.


There are several ways to avoid getting sick on an airplane. | Tisha85/ iStock/ Getty Images

It starts with preparation

You should have a small bag of essentials on hand to avoid the germs or the motion sickness. Pack a bottle of hand sanitizer or some cleansing wipes to wipe down the arm rests and anything else you might touch in your airplane seat. Bring your own pillow, and always wash your hands after using the bathroom to avoid the spread of germs. If you think you’ll have motion sickness, bring an over-the-counter medicine to reduce nausea, and pack an extra barf bag just in case your plane doesn’t have one. Also, try to get a seat close to the restroom in the event you think you may get sick, or pick a seat next to the wing, since this is the place on the airplane with the least movement. Being prepared will ease the anxiety you have about any type of sickness you might encounter in flight.

Stay hydrated and nourished

Eat something healthy before your flight to boost the nutrients in your body and build up that immune system a bit. Something high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruit, is a great snack to enjoy before a flight and won’t leave your stomach feeling full.

Some people with motion sickness suggest that eating something light and bland (such as a piece of toast) helps them feel better than flying on an empty stomach. If you choose to eat something, make sure it’s a small portion.

Pack your carry-on accordingly

Often, airplanes supply pillows and blankets to customers to keep them warm and comfortable on the flight. Flights tend to be chilly, but rather than using a blanket from the airline, bring your own. Stick it in your bag to avoid borrowing a blanket that could be crawling with germs. Or, dress in warmer clothes, such as comfortable pants and a sweater, to prevent yourself from needing a blanket in the first place. Avoid borrowing anything the airline offers you that may have been used by passengers previously.

Try to avoid germs at the airport, too

Going through airport security isn’t something you can avoid, but those airport bins are filled with bacteria — they contain more germs than a toilet. After you place your belongings in the bin, quickly wipe them down to sanitize them. Also, always wear socks with your shoes, since most people must take their shoes off before going through the metal detector. This prevents germs from reaching your feet, which can cause issues such as warts and athlete’s foot.

Electronic ticketing machines, keypads, and restrooms in airports are filled with bacteria, so use your judgement and sanitize your hands when necessary. Always carry a bottle of hand sanitizer or some antibacterial wipes with you to kill any germs you may come in contact with, and wash your hands before eating any airport or airline food.

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