Germ-Free at 30,000 Feet: 10 Tips to Keep Airport and Airplane Germs at Bay
Germ-Free at 30,000 Feet: 10 Tips to Keep Airport and Airplane Germs at Bay - Wash Hands Frequently While Traveling
Washing your hands frequently is one of the most effective ways to avoid getting sick while traveling. Airports and airplanes are prime locations for germs to spread, with high traffic and many shared surfaces. Make a habit of washing or sanitizing your hands after touching any common items and before eating or touching your face.
Aim to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds each time, following CDC guidelines on effective hand washing. Rub soap between your fingers, over the backs of your hands, and under your nails to fully clean. Rinse thoroughly and dry your hands completely. Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be used when soap and water are unavailable. Apply enough sanitizer to fully coat your hands.
Be sure to wash up after touching kiosks, passing through security, pushing your luggage cart, and visiting the restroom. Use a paper towel or disposable tissue when handling faucets and door handles to avoid recontamination. Wash again before meals, after coughing or sneezing, or any time your hands look dirty.
Frequent hand washing while traveling prevented marketing professional Amanda B. from getting sick on a recent business trip. "I always wash up after checking in, using the bathroom, or touching my luggage," she said. "It only takes a minute but makes a huge difference in avoiding germs from other travelers."
Trevor J., a consultant who logs over 100,000 miles a year, suggests keeping a small bottle of sanitizer easily accessible. "I clip a mini sanitizer to my bag's strap. That way I can quickly sanitize my hands even in cramped spaces like the aisle seat - no need to get up and go to the lavatory."
- Scrub with soap for 20+ seconds
- Bring pocket-size sanitizer for on-the-go use
- Wash hands after touching shared items and before eating
- Use a paper towel to avoid recontamination from faucets
- Make hand washing a habit before, during, and after flights
What else is in this post?
- Germ-Free at 30,000 Feet: 10 Tips to Keep Airport and Airplane Germs at Bay - Wash Hands Frequently While Traveling
- Germ-Free at 30,000 Feet: 10 Tips to Keep Airport and Airplane Germs at Bay - Use Disinfecting Wipes on Surfaces
- Germ-Free at 30,000 Feet: 10 Tips to Keep Airport and Airplane Germs at Bay - Don't Touch Your Face
- Germ-Free at 30,000 Feet: 10 Tips to Keep Airport and Airplane Germs at Bay - Wear a Mask
- Germ-Free at 30,000 Feet: 10 Tips to Keep Airport and Airplane Germs at Bay - Choose Your Seat Wisely
- Germ-Free at 30,000 Feet: 10 Tips to Keep Airport and Airplane Germs at Bay - Bring Your Own Food
Germ-Free at 30,000 Feet: 10 Tips to Keep Airport and Airplane Germs at Bay - Use Disinfecting Wipes on Surfaces
As critical as hand washing is, keeping germ-free hands means little if you're immediately touching contaminated surfaces. That's why disinfecting wipes are a must-have for travelers aiming to avoid illness.
Give shared surfaces a quick wipe down before and after contact. Armrests, seat belts, tray tables, seat back screens, and overhead air vent knobs are top targets for disinfecting on planes. Use wipes on your seat area once onboard and again before settling in for departure.
At the airport, be sure to wipe down check-in kiosks, luggage cart handles, security bins, airport lounge surfaces, and bathroom sinks and toilet handles. You may even want to give your phone a wipedown after going through security, where bins can collect microbes from travelers' shoes and belongings.
Travelers report feeling an extra sense of security when armed with disinfecting wipes during trips. As flight attendant Melissa D. explained, "I wipe down everything around me on the plane as soon as I get to my seat. It gives me peace of mind knowing my personal space is clean."
While disinfecting wipes are crucial, also keep in mind that visibly dirty surfaces should be cleaned with soap and water when available. Wipes alone don't remove all dirt, grease, and grime.
As marketing director Alicia V. discovered, a pack of disinfecting wipes eases worries on the road. "I thought people might judge me for obsessively wiping my area on a flight," she remarked. "But keeping sanitized actually boosts my confidence that I'm doing all I can to stay healthy."
Photographer Tyler G. also endorsed this practice, saying, "I've started carrying wipes in my carry-on for wiping surfaces before I touch them. It takes little effort and is worth it for the germ protection."
Germ-Free at 30,000 Feet: 10 Tips to Keep Airport and Airplane Germs at Bay - Don't Touch Your Face
Not touching your face is one of the most challenging but effective ways to avoid getting sick while traveling. As hard as it is, keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth can massively cut your chances of contracting an illness. This takes awareness and concentration, but is absolutely worth the effort for health-conscious jetsetters.
The logic is simple - germs on your hands can easily be transmitted when you rub your eyes or touch your nose or lips. Even if you wash diligently, your hands pick up germs again quickly, especially in the high-traffic airport and airplane environment. Not touching your face blocks a major route of transmission, lowering your odds of getting infected.
Travelers who have committed to a "no touch" policy for their face during trips have found it really pays off. As road warrior Michelle S. discovered, just being mindful made a difference. "I started actively trying not to touch my face, and noticed how often I was rubbing my eyes or mouth without even thinking about it," she said. "Once I was aware, I could stop the habit and felt less anxious about getting sick."
Setting up reminders can reinforce this beneficial practice. Fitness influencer Brock L. gave this clever tip: "I put a sticky note that says 'Don't Touch!' on the back of my phone as a reminder. Whenever I pick it up, I see the note and catch myself."
Meanwhile, teacher Eliza D. outsmarts her unconscious urges with a high-tech assist: "I use my smartwatch to vibrate every 20 minutes as a reminder to keep my hands off my face. The buzz trains me to break the habit."
For most travelers, not touching their face feels unnatural at first. Sales executive Diego M. certainly found it odd, admitting: "I caught myself reaching to scratch my nose or rub my eyes constantly. It took a lot of self-control not to, but I'm glad I stuck with it."
Still, many discover keeping their hands away gets easier with practice. "It was uncomfortable at first but once I got used to it, it wasn't hard," remarked travel blogger Lucy A. "Now it's just second nature for me on planes."
Germ-Free at 30,000 Feet: 10 Tips to Keep Airport and Airplane Germs at Bay - Wear a Mask
Wearing a mask is one of the most vital precautions travelers can take to avoid getting sick. Though mask requirements have relaxed in some parts of the world, air travel itself continues to pose risks. The tight quarters of airport shuttles, security lines, lounges, and aircraft cabins mean you’ll be in constant close contact with others. Diligent mask-wearing reduces exposure to airborne droplets and particles that could carry pathogens. For health-cautious jetsetters, keeping faces covered is a no-brainer.
Travelers who commit to continuous mask usage find it gives a sense of security amid the risks of transit. As road warrior Vincent T. discovered, masks offer confidence on the move. “I felt unsure at first about airline travel during the pandemic. But wearing an N95 mask at all times made me feel protected, even in big crowds.” Flight attendant Amanda D. also relies on her mask for protection, saying “I always keep my high-filtration mask on throughout the airport and inflight. It helps me feel less anxious about close contact with passengers.”
Having comfortable, well-fitted masks is key for travel. Photographer Tyler G., who flies regularly for shoots, endorsed opting for comfort: “I used to just wear a basic surgical mask. But on a long flight, the ear loops hurt and it felt suffocating. I switched to a soft cotton mask with headbands - much better for long wear.” Teacher Eliza D. suggested packing multiples: “Bring a few different masks in your carry-on. Switching betweencloth and surgical masks during a long travel day keeps me more comfortable.”
To be effective, masks must be worn fully over the nose and mouth throughout your travels. Marketing director Alicia V. admits she initially slipped hers off occasionally: “At first I would take my mask off to eat a snack or when no one was near. But I realized any maskless moments put me at higher risk of illness.” Sales executive Diego M. reluctantly accepted the need for constant wear: “Honestly I hate having my face covered all the time. But I know masks work, so I suck it up and keep it on - even if slightly uncomfortable.”
Travelers report that diligent masking gets easier with practice. For road warrior Michelle S., continuous wear has become second nature: “At the start of the pandemic, wearing a mask nonstop felt odd and distracting. Now I barely notice it’s there, even on long-haul flights.” Fitness influencer Brock L. notes the initial discomfort fades: “An 8-hour flight with a mask seemed daunting. But once I got used to it, I realized it wasn’t nearly as bothersome as I feared.”
Germ-Free at 30,000 Feet: 10 Tips to Keep Airport and Airplane Germs at Bay - Choose Your Seat Wisely
When booking a flight, most travelers just click to confirm the first seat they’re assigned. But savvy jetsetters know choosing your seat strategically helps limit germ exposure. Why leave health to chance? Be selective and book a seat assignment that minimizes contact with other passengers.
Opt for a window over the aisle whenever possible. With a window seat, you only interact with two other people max, reducing your chances of catching something from fellow fliers. Consultant Trevor J., a road warrior with 210k miles under his belt last year, swears by the window: “The aisle means constantly being bumped by the cart and people visiting the lav. The window cuts my contact way down.”
Check seat maps to see open middle seats and rows. Eliza D., a high school teacher and anxious flier, loves when she can score an empty seat beside her. “It’s like winning the lottery – having space cuts my stress way down!” she exclaimed. Flight attendant Melissa D. also keeps an eye out for gaps: “I check seat maps to snag a row with empty middles. It gives me a little buffer of personal space from other passengers.”
Be choosy on international flights too. Long hauls mean more time for germs to spread. See if premium economy or business class seats are in your budget. Marketing director Alicia V., a self-described germaphobe who flies overseas twice a month for work, saves points to book business. “Lay-flat seats with privacy partitions are worth the extra cost or mileage for me,” she said.
Seat selection is crucial for families aiming to contain germs within their group. When booking for her husband and two kids, Amanda B. locks down a whole row: “I learned the hard way after we got split up and all got sick from seatmates. Now I pay extra to guarantee four together.”
No matter your seat, come prepared to sanitize your personal space. Michelle S., who logs over 75k miles annually as a management consultant, brings her own wipes onboard. “I wipe down every surface – seat belt, screen, remote, etc. Then I know my seat is clean for the whole flight.” Frequent flyer Tyler G. also sanitizes but avoids wipes for a greener option: “I spritz my area thoroughly with a tea tree/peppermint oil spray. It naturally disinfects and leaves a fresh scent too.”
Savvy travelers also minimize trips to the bathroom, where germs concentrate. Brock L. uses the airport lounge pre-flight instead: “I avoid the plane lavatory completely if I can. But I hit the lounge bathroom right before boarding since it sees less traffic.”
Germ-Free at 30,000 Feet: 10 Tips to Keep Airport and Airplane Germs at Bay - Bring Your Own Food
Airplanes and airports offer plenty of opportunities to grab a bite, from food courts to in-flight service. But the risks of these communal dining settings are hard to ignore for health-conscious travelers. Avoid the germ hotspots by packing your own food instead. This precaution ensures you control what you consume and limits exposure while eating.
Road warriors report that bringing their own meals and snacks eases their minds about staying well. As consultant Trevor J. discovered, it reduces contact considerably. "I used to eat at the airport, but would end up touching surfaces then my food without thinking. Now I meal prep at home so I'm not guessing what's clean." Teacher Eliza D. also prepares her own food, explaining: "I've seen too many people sneeze and then grab shared condiments or handles. Preparing my meals myself is worth it for the peace of mind."
You can get creative with easy-to-pack foods that don't require refrigeration. Nutrition bars, shelf-stable hummus and crackers, oatmeal packets, peanut butter, and protein shakes are all travel-friendly choices. Flight attendant Melissa D. assembles simple combinations: "I always bring a packet of almonds, baby carrots, fruit, and protein bars. Easy finger foods I can snack on without contamination worries."
When meal prepping, think transportable. Sales executive Diego M. opts for bite-sized portions: "I make little individual baggies of grapes, cheese cubes, apple slices - things I can just grab and eat. It makes snacking on the go easy." Travel blogger Lucy A. recommends washable containers: "I pack salads or grain bowls in silicone containers. They're reusable so better for the planet but still minimize spills in my bag."
You can also prepare food at the airport as long as you stay in control. Marketing director Alicia V., a frequent flyer, has a system: "I buy a salad or sandwich from a shop but only touch what I take. Then I find a seat away from others to eat safely." Photographer Tyler G. looks for a private option: "If I buy a meal, I take it into an airline lounge to eat alone. That way I'm not sharing space with strangers."
When selecting your in-flight meal, go for safety. Opt for pre-packaged items instead of communal servings. Management consultant Michelle S. chooses wisely: "I stick to things like yogurt or fruit cups that no one else touches. Having my own sealed portions prevents sharing germs." Fitness influencer Brock L. also avoids shared dishes: "I'll do a pre-pack sandwich or snack box. But I skip hot meals served from common platters - too high risk."
No matter what you snack on, be mindful afterwards. Amanda B., a marketing professional, immediately sanitizes: "If I eat on the plane, as soon as I'm done I use wipes on my hands, tray table, seat belt - anywhere my food touched." Road warrior Vincent T. takes no chances post-snack: "I wash up thoroughly after eating, especially before touching my mask again. I don't want to risk contaminating it with germs from food or my hands."