Six Steps to Healthy Holiday Travel

If, like millions of other Americans, you’ll be traveling during this holiday season, it’s wise to take protective steps now so you won’t be at risk later for the flu and other seasonal afflictions.

Here, from the experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), are six steps to healthy travel:

Get vaccinated now

“The flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from the flu,” said Tedra Smith, DNP, nurse practitioner and an instructor at the UAB School of Nursing. “It is also the best way to prevent the spread of the flu.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people age 6 months and older receive an annual flu vaccination. While you may still contract the flu even if you take the shot, the vaccine helps reduce the severity of illness in people who are vaccinated.

Prepare a travel health kit

Just as you arrive at the airport with your tickets and identification, make sure you are prepared for the germs you may encounter along the way to your destination. UAB recommends preparing a travel health kit, including tissues, pain or fever medicine, soap, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes.


Cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze

Expect the airport, planes and other places of public transportation to be crowded. This means a greater risk for the spread of germs.. To help protect those around you, cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze. “When you cover your mouth or nose when you cough or sneeze, the germs will then spread onto everything else you touch with your hands,” Smith said. “Instead, use your elbow or a tissue. This will greatly reduce the number of germs that spread to people and objects around you.”

Have a travel health kit – including pain relief medicine and hand wipes – and keep it with you on the plane.

Wash your hands

Even if you took precautions to protect yourself from the flu, that does not mean everyone around you also did the same.  Health experts recommend that you use hand sanitizer or wash your hands with soap after touching your face or public shared spaces such as door handles, seat buckles and transportation seats.

Remember to take sanitizing wipes

Some of the germiest places on airplanes are right where you sit. Use disinfecting wipes to clean armrests, tray tables and seatbelts when you board your flight. You can even use wipes to clean handrails you may touch, or when opening and closing door handles. If you are staying in a hotel, the wipes are also useful to disinfect the television remote control, the toilet handle, elevator buttons and other frequently touched surfaces.

Drink plenty of water

Stay hydrated to help your body fight viruses. Water helps keep your temperature normal and gets rid of wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements. To stay hydrated, stick with water and avoid caffeinated beverages.

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