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Tips For The Traveling Executive: Flying Heightens Your Risk of Illness
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Tips For The Traveling Executive: Flying Heightens Your Risk of Illness - Executive Leadership Articles

Tips For The Traveling Executive: Flying Heightens Your Risk of Illness

Executive Leadership Articles

Tips For The Traveling Executive: Flying Heightens Your Risk of Illness

Nobody has to tell you that flying is laden with germy opportunities. All those people stuffed elbow to elbow into a narrow tube for hours at a time are bound to exchange more than pleasantries as they wriggle past each other. Just the sheer numbers of people who pass through the same spaces in airports and on planes seem to boost the likelihood of coming into contact with something that will put a huge damper on business travel, especially at this time of year, and while there’s little you can do about the contagiousness of your fellow passengers, there’s lots you can do to minimize your own chances of being laid low by something nasty.

Antibacterial Wipes are Your Best Friends
Don’t worry about how it makes you look. When your health is at stake, you don’t care what total strangers think of you. Pack a ton of antibacterial wipes and use them on everything. As soon as you get on the plane, wipe down the armrests, seat tray, seatbelt, and anything else you’re going to touch. If you’ve got a window seat, wipe the window shade, the window, and the inside wall near your face, especially if you’re going to be leaning on it while you sleep. Bring the wipes with you when you go to the bathroom—if you must go to the bathroom—and don’t forget to use them on your hands. Bring enough to share, too. If someone in your row looks at you funny, he or she will probably cut it out once you offer them the chance to behave similarly.

Bonus advice: If you’re dining outside the country—especially if you’re going to be in rural areas—wipe your table, seat, eating utensils, and even dishes if you can think of some graceful way to ask for them before your meals are served. It sounds crazy, but someone we know spent a few weeks in several rural villages outside the United States, wiping everything she could before dining, and she was the only person in her group who wasn’t felled by some kind of illness.

Drink Bottled Water – and Very Little Else
The tap water on an airplane can be disgusting, as in fecal bacteria disgusting. This has supposedly been taken care of in recent years, but don’t take chances. Get the bottled water on a plane, and just drink that. If you insist on brushing your teeth or shaving in the plane’s restroom, use the bottled water. Other beverages that come out of bottles or cans might be fine, but alcohol and caffeine contribute to dehydration, so chase a soda or mini bottle of wine with plenty of bottled water. The arid air on planes dries out your nasal cavity, making you more susceptible to germs; staying hydrated fights against this vulnerability and works against blood clots in your legs, another hazard of long flights.

The Air Up There
If someone in your section of the plane is germy, you’ll want his or her germs to blow right past you. Turn on your personal air vent, aiming it so that it’s blowing on your hands when your hands are in your lap. The constant stream of air moving past your face will minimize the chances that something will settle on you, and contrary to popular belief, the air coming out of vents isn’t completely recirculated; half of it is coming in from outside the plane.

You want to keep others’ germs moving away from you, but if you’re a bit germy yourself, you’ll want to keep those germs to yourself. A lot of fun is made of Asians who wear surgical masks then they travel, even on buses and trains to work every day, but their intentions are often misconstrued: they aren’t wearing masks to keep others’ germs out of their bodies. They’re wearing masks as a courtesy to others, so they don’t spread their germs to anyone else. You may be self-conscious, but consider the sacrifice of your coolness for the sake of others. Keep in mind that breathing through a surgical mask can take some getting used to; some people find it difficult to get comfortable in them. If you’re planning to wear a mask while you travel, you may want to practice with it for a few days before you get on that plane.

Homesick? Avoid Coming Home Sick.

Business travel can be stressful no matter how you do it, and the last thing you need is either to add to it by coming down with something while still on your trip, or coming down with something once you get home. You’re no good to anyone when you’re unwell, so take a few precautions—even if they make you look like a germaphobe—and tell those plane-borne pathogens to take off.

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Tips For The Traveling Executive: Flying Heightens Your Risk of Illness - Executive Leadership Articles

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