9 tips and tricks I use to avoid colds, flus, viruses
I’ve been working from home and traveling for work the better part of the last 13 years. We all know what cesspool of germs hang out in public spaces, airplanes, crowds, and hotels – plus if you travel to a conference or office and generally work from home, your body isn’t used to all the new germs.
But yet, I don’t get sick very often… and I attribute it to my maybe over-the-top (well, now with Corona Virus it seems normal) travel routine.
Obviously masks are 100% necessary, and work well when all users wear masks. But beyond face coverings, here are 9 ways I help keep myself germ-free and cold/flu/virus free — especially when flying:
1. Wash Your Hands
You’re thinking, thanks Elise… that’s not obvious at all. But, I’m serious. Wash your freaking hands all the time. Touched the Clear finger print scanner? Wash your hands. Touched your baggage on the belt? Wash your hands. How about, first thing after crossing TSA, just wash your hands.
Oh, and let’s talk about when it’s really important — before you eat, before you touch your face, scratch your nose, after you get to your hotel, and really any time you’re thinking about it. And we all know the 20 second rule, right?
2. Carry Soap, Wipes, Sanitizing Spray, Alcohol Wipes, and Hand Sanitizer
Maybe there is massive turbulence and you can’t get up for four hours. Maybe you touched your airplane TV screen and want to eat your peanuts and waking your seatmate is not an option. Or maybe the soap is all gone because the restaurant can’t refill it fast enough.
I carry all three. Seriously. I have been for years. Soap sheets are super compact and provide enough soap for a good hand washing. Anti-bacterial wipes kill germs on your hands and your tray table, window, your seat, hotel lightswitch, etc. Sanitizing spray is easy to use, and ultra-portable. (Hint: I use Clorox Anywhere and put it in 2 ounce hairspray bottles.)
Your phone is super dirty so, using alcohol wipes a few times a day can cure that (you can often find them in hotel and office first aid kits). And finally, if you can’t wash your hands or use a wipe, there’s always trusty hand sanitizer.
3. Stop Touching Things, and Yourself
Yeah it sounds dirty — because it is! But seriously, don’t touch your face, your mouth, your ears, your eyes. Also, use your elbow to touch elevator buttons. Use Kleenex or a wet wipe to open the airplane bathroom door, or touch your airplane TV screen. And don’t touch other people. No more handshakes, and I’m not even sure I want to fist bump you.
4. Use Toothpicks and Chopsticks
You’re probably thinking – wait, what? Well seriously, toothpicks are awesome. You can use them for their intended purpose, or many others. For example, have an itch on your nose? Use a toothpick. Don’t want to eat with your hand? Stab a toothpick in it or pick it up with chopsticks.
5. Keep Hydrated
Again, another obvious tip but it works. Proper hydration just feels better and helps boosts immune systems. I bring an empty water bottle (these days it’s the glass BKR in peachy pink) and fill it when I cross security. Also, because I’m a germ person… I totally fill it in the Delta Lounge by pouring water from the spout into a glass, then the glass into my bottle. I also wash my bottle when I’m traveling with dish soap that I (you guessed it) put in my 2 ounce hairspray bottles (just make sure you don’t confuse dish soap with sanitizing spray).
And yes, airplane drinks dehydrate you. Just plan to drink a little extra water then.
6. Keep Zinc Throat Lozenges on Hand
Throat lozenges are a good idea when flying, or in a dry climate. There are so many times on plane where I get that dry tickle cough. I always have some type of cough drops for that very reason. Then, adding Zinc helps (even if it’s just placebo, I’ll take it) if I’m feeling sick, or get a dry throat. Be careful with Zinc though – no more than about 40mg/day.
7. Add Humidity
I’ve been traveling with a personal humidifier for years. Hotel rooms are often dry and stuffy, and a travel humidifier can be the difference of waking up well-rested or waking up with dry eyes and throat. No humidifier? Wet towels and hang them in the room.
8. Wear Washer & Dryer Friendly Clothing
Washers often cannot kill all germs, but dryers can. Literally, the moment I walk in my door I peel off all my clothing and throw it in the washer (with my dirty clothing from my suitcase) and I wash with Laundry Sanitizer Additive. Once it’s done, I put it on high heat for 30-40 minutes. Also, for my clothing on the way to my destination, it goes in a plastic bag on the floor and doesn’t touch anything until I send it home.
9. Finally… Get Some Sleep
Again, another obvious one, but sleep improves your immune system and helps fend off sickness. It’s highly underrated and everyone should get more. A good bedtime routine (maybe lavender oil and a sleep mask?) can go along way when fighting jet lag, too.
Personally, I’m taking some time off to stay at home and practice spatial distance, and hope the spread of coronavirus starts to decline. But these tips are great for anyone traveling now, or really any time as we don’t know when the next flu, cold, or super bug will hit.
And if you want to get really grossed out, check out my post from 2015 about what happens to sneeze particles on a plane.
And yes, I have affiliate links in my post. If you click on the link, and buy something, I get a few pennies to offset my blog hosting costs — and then I do a happy dance.