8 Tips to minimize the risk of contracting a virus on your next flight

Image of people inside a plane

Since December 2019, the world has been closely monitoring the respiratory disease caused by a coronavirus, which was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. To date, the number of cases has surpassed those from the deadly 2003 SARS outbreak and uncertainty about safety has started to affect travel. At last count, the virus has infected close to 90.000 people in every continent except Antarctica, with reports of 3,000+ fatalities. The Center for Disease Control keeps tabs on reported cases.

According to my research, viruses generally have the potential to live on hard, non-porous (water resistant) surfaces such as stainless steel, metal and plastic longer than they survive on soft surfaces like fabrics and tissues. But they all prefer to live on humans, so heavily trafficked spaces like airports and planes are potential hotbeds for infection.

So, what can you do to minimize the risk of contracting a virus on your next flight?

Be vigilant about good hand hygiene

One of the best ways to protect yourself from getting sick is to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands. To combat that, it’s best to wash them with soap and water regularly (and vigorously) for at least 20 seconds.  Remember, every public surface you touch like bathroom doors, elevator buttons, escalator handrails or other random surfaces has the potential to harbor germs.

Carry hand sanitizers or wipes with you… and use them

Respiratory illnesses, like the coronavirus, generally spread when we come into contact with an infected persons’ saliva or mucus, which can fall onto nearby surfaces. That’s why it helps to clean your airplane seat, seat belt, touch screens and tray tables with wipes as soon as you enter the aircraft. The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends at least 60 percent alcohol concentration to maximize effectiveness.

Keep the air vents above you open

During flight, the air you’re breathing can be anywhere from two to five rows surrounding your seat, so keep your vents open to create an invisible air barrier around you, even if you angle them slightly away from your face. Many airborne viruses are spread by tiny nuclei that can hang in the air for up to five hours, and your overhead air vent helps push them to the ground.

Sit near a window

A study published in 2018 by The FlyHealthy Research Team across 10 airlines concluded that “there is low probability of direct transmission to passengers not seated in close proximity to an infectious passenger.” That means, unless the infected person is right next to you, the safest place to sit on an airplane in order to avoid contracting a virus is the window seat.  Human movement and contact up and down the aisle is more likely to spread germs than recirculated air.

Use a saline nasal spray

Dry air, like the type experienced on airplanes, makes it harder for your mucus membranes to do their job of clearing out irritants and particles.  As a result, using a saline nasal spray before and during your flight can help overcome a dry nose and improve your resistance to infection.

Stock up on Vitamin C

Vitamin C boosts your immunity system by helping white blood cells fight illness-causing viruses and bacteria more effectively, supporting your adrenals when you’re feeling stressed, and strengthening your skin’s defense system. So whether you prefer to take it in pill, edible or liquid format, pack some Vitamin C in your purse or hand luggage for use on your next flight.

Bring Your Own Stuff

Thankfully, the days of using blankets provided by airlines are mostly over because you can never quite be sure they are being washed before being repackaged and reused. Just play it safe and take your own. And while we’re on this subject, let’s minimize the germs transmission factor by bringing your own pillows and headphones too, please.

Keep a mask handy

The jury is out on how effective face masks really are at minimizing the risk of contracting a virus, especially if it doesn’t fit you properly, but I always feel better covering my face if I’m sitting next to someone who is coughing and sneezing. While masks may not block airborne germs completely, they can prevent you from transferring germs from your hands to your mouth or nose.

Do you have any other tips on how to minimize the risk of contracting a virus?

This link also has additional suggestions on how to avoid getting sick while on vacation.

All my single ladies, don’t stress about Feb 14th. Galentine’s Day has got all the feels!

Galentine's Weekend

You’re dreading Valentine’s Day this year for one or a variety of reasons:

The man you’ve been dating (or your husband) is giving off signals that his interest in waning.

You just got dumped via text by a self-centered loser whom you treated like a king for the past [insert your number] years and that joker didn’t even have the decency to break it off with you in person.

You’ve been in a relationship dry spell and recently decided to take a step back from the frustrating and risky dating pool to regain your inner zen.

Or you enjoy flying solo and can’t be bothered with the February 14th hoopla that comes with dramatic floral arrangement and chocolate deliveries. By that I mean hearing soft gasps of delight from love-struck recipients when the roses arrive, or dealing with the fluttery ooh and ahhs of insincere work colleagues watching with catty eyes from the wings.

Makes you see red everywhere you look, right?

What do you do? Plan your own bangin’ LITuation! As in, a Galentine’s Day treat or weekend event with your best gal pals to commemorate the joys of female friendship. For those of you unfamiliar with this February 13th pre-Valentine’s Day celebration, it seemingly stemmed from a 2010 episode of the television show Parks and Recreation.


So, here are 5 things (other than a spa weekend) you can do to ring in this year’s Galentine’s Day.

Plan a leisurely lunch

Take the afternoon off and gather all your BFFs together for a beverage-infused lunch filled with food, laughter and fond memories. Bring out the funny stories of silly faux pas, trifling dates, the kids’ noteworthy antics and family drama that will zap all the stress away.

Choose outdoor adventure

Whether your besties are into hiking, biking, boating, paddling, canoeing, camping, white river rafting or something else, find a common theme and book yourselves an action-packed outdoor adventure somewhere. Multiple studies show that spending time in nature is one of the fastest ways to improve your health and happiness.


Attend Oprah’s 2020 Vision Tour

Jumpstart the new decade by attending Oprah’s 2020 Vision Tour to get your life in focus. It’s an all-day wellness event designed to give us the mindset we need to thrive in a life that’s more balanced – regardless of the odds we face. She, along with other celebrity guests, are out to show that contentment is not about our track record of success, how we look, our public-facing deeds, socio-economic backgrounds or our political associations. Rather, it involves learning how to motivate from within and taking care of ourselves. Catch her this month on Feb 8 at the Barclay’s Center in Brookyln, New York or on Feb 15 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.


Wine all your cares away

Depending on where you’re from, you can take that to mean a self-indulgent Girls Trip for Galentine’s Day to places like Napa Valley or South Africa, where you can visit wineries and wonderfully, quaint towns. OR you can interpret wine to mean making an appearance at a music concert or marching arm in arm to a non-stop dance party where you can shake your waistline or booty in abandon.  If you lean towards the latter, Trinidad’s annual carnival, from February 24 to 25, is one such option.


Take a fun cooking class  

Whether you do this at home or abroad, taking a fun cooking class is a great way to experience local markets, learn more about cultures and different culinary techniques, and have meaningful interactions. Don’t know where to start looking? This article from Travel Channel will give you some ideas for places that host cooking classes within the US. If you have travel on your mind, foodie destinations like Peru, New Orleans, Italy and Cartagena are great places to consider.


Do you have any cool ideas for Galentine’s Day you’d like to share? Please drop them in the comment section below.

Three black women walking down the beach_MyTravelStamps