How to Stay Healthy While Flying

Cut your chances of getting sick while flying this holiday season with these must-try tips.
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Small preventative measures can make a world of difference when flying. 

Traveling for the holidays? Then pack your hand sanitizer: Research published in BMC Infectious Diseases found that the greatest number of airport germs lurk in those gray plastic bins in the security line. In fact, they found viruses on 10 percent of all the surfaces they tested. Yikes! Cut your chances of getting sick with these tips:

Arm your system 

Start taking 1,500 milligrams of vitamin C several days before your trip, advises Elizabeth Trattner, acupuncture physician and certified integrative medicine practitioner in Miami. She also recommends a probiotic to help fight off infections. “Take a nondairy product with eight or more different strains of bacteria and at least 25 billion units of bacteria,” she says.

Wrap up 

“Your mucous membranes dry out in airplanes where the humidity is low and there isn’t a lot of fresh air,” Trattner says. “Keeping those membranes warm and moist helps minimize germs, bacteria and viruses from entering your respiratory system.” Pack a few scarves in a zip-close bag and wrap them around your neck, mouth and nose during flights.

Flex while flying 

Keep blood from pooling in your legs by standing up and walking the aisles whenever you can. You also can stretch in your seat, says Javier Ibarra, a Las Vegas–based doctor of physical therapy. Do head rolls, shoulder stretches, ankle rolls and the like.


Dehydration makes you more susceptible to illness, so avoid caffeine and alcohol both on land and in the air, and drink lots of water, Trattner says.