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5 Germ Free Travel Tips

Whether you’re taking a cruise ship, an airplane or train this winter, you are bound to encounter new people, places – and germs. And it doesn’t help that flu season will likely be in full swing.

Dr. Alejandro Sanchez, an infectious disease specialist at the Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center, offers tips on how to reduce exposure to germs – and stay healthy during your holiday travels.

Pack germ-fighting items.

Don’t leave home without alcohol-based hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, liquid soap and disinfecting spray.

  • Because everything you touch will be touched by many people, use these items generously and often.

  • Clean the following frequently touched surfaces: trays, seat buckles, bathroom countertops, armrests and door knobs. In fact, try not to touch door knobs or hand rails or use the pillows and blankets on planes.

Wash Your Hands.

No matter if you are home or on the go, frequent hand washing is always an effective way to prevent colds and other illnesses.

  • If warm water and soap are not immediately available, use hand sanitizer.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing your hands before putting them to your mouth. This includes before eating, drinking, or brushing your teeth.

  • Always wash your hands after going to the bathroom, blowing your nose, changing diapers, or helping a sick person.

  • Don’t touch your face, particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth, before washing your hands.

Get your flu shot.

A flu vaccine lowers your risk of getting get the flu, which is a serious illness and can lead to complications.

  • The vaccine takes a few weeks to fully kick in so it’s best to get a vaccination several weeks before you travel.

  • The vaccine protects you for a year.

Stay hydrated.

Drinking plenty of water helps ward off sickness because your mucous membranes, which help defend your body against microbes, work best when moist.

  • Avoid ice cubes because the water tanks, especially on older planes, ships and trains, can host germs.

Feeling sick.

If you happen to be sick yourself, be courteous to others around

  • Stay home if you are sick.

  • If you have to go outdoors, cover your cough, wear a mask, and wash your hands frequently to help decrease the spread of germs.

  • Be prepared with contact information for your physician when you are out of town.


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