This blog post was updated on July 22, 2021.
As most of the world battles cold season at the same time as winter travel hits its peak, travelers must take on their own battle: air travel while feeling under the weather. There are only a few things worse than being sick and traveling on a plane.
Whether they’re boarding flights to Seattle or out to Madrid, travelers dealing with a dreaded cold and a looming flight should equip themselves with this sick guide for flying.
NOTE: If you are feeling too sick to fly, DON’T. You’ll be putting yourself at risk as well as your fellow passengers. But if you’re just battling the sniffles, there are a few ways to make yourself and your seat partner more comfortable:
Book a window or an aisle seat: Whatever you do, don’t get stuck in the middle of two people who will hate you and your coughing. Always try to book a window or an aisle seat if you are sick. Coughing into a window or empty aisle is much more socially acceptable than coughing into that stranger next to you. An aisle is also a good idea if you are under the weather, allowing for easy access to get up and go to the bathroom or to seek out the flight attendant for a beverage.
Bring Socks and a Scarf: Planes are always either two contrasting temperature levels, incredibly hot or chillingly cold. When you are sick, traveling on an airplane is probably one of the worst things you can do for your health. You are fluctuating through extreme temperatures and your body is not happy about it. If you are sick or feeling something coming on, protect your feet with thick travel socks and your head/body with a blanket-type scarf. Even if you are leaving Fiji, it is always a good idea to have these two items with you to prevent getting worse in the health department.
Decongestants, Cough Drops and Kleenex packets: While I have sat next to someone with a horrible cough and runny nose, I have also been that person, the one you hope to not be sitting next to on a flight, hacking up a lung or two. Keep your coughs at minimum by either popping cough drops as needed or taking cough medicine before you take off. Decongestants are also a good idea for that runny nose. Little Kleenex packets are available at most airports and could save your nose as well.
Check Your Bag: When you are sick, walking two feet can seem like a chore. Now try lugging a carry on suitcase and a laptop bag all through the airport. Give yourself a break and fork over the checked baggage charges. The last thing you should be doing on an airplane is hoisting luggage into overhead bins.
Avoid Future Germs: Your illness is only going to get worse on a plane when you spread your cold to the next person sitting in your seat. There are countless germy places on an airplane including the seat pockets in front of you and the bathroom. Avoid picking up that in flight magazine or reaching for the headphones. Chances are they are just waiting with more germs to prolong your illness and pass your problem on to the next flyer.
CC Flickr photo credit: kaktuslampan