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By Samantha Chapnick

Even the heartiest travelers can find it hard to stay healthy on flights
full of coughing, sneezing and nose-blowing passengers. You already know that you’re supposed to
eat right, exercise and get enough sleep. In the first of this two-part series, I share some
other tips that road warriors
say they use to stay healthy.

Disclaimer: While I hope these strategies work for you, everyone
and every situation is different. Use your judgment or call your doctor
before trying anything you find questionable.

  • Wash! Wash! Wash! You may not realize how
    many germ-y things you touch: Luggage that has been handled by 20
    people, bathroom door handles used by hundreds before they wash,
    upholstered seats that are never cleaned. You get the idea. Most
    doctors agree that the single most important thing to do to avoid
    infection is wash your hands often. You’re supposed to wash for at least 25
    seconds (turn the water off for conservation) and make sure to get the front, back and under the
    nails to kill as many bugs as you can.
  • Hands off. If germs were Lamborghinis, our mouths and noses
    would be their autobahn (before there was a speed limit). Half of the
    cold-causing viruses are rhinoviruses, meaning they enter the body
    through the nose and reproduce there faster than rabbits. Most of the
    rest do the same in the mouth. So do whatever you canto keep your
    hands away from your nose and mouth — even if they are recently
    washed. And always wash before eating anything!
  • Ditch the duvet. That 600-thread-count hotel bedspread probably
    has the same number of germs — considering most don’t get washed very
    often. Before you get to the room, ask housekeeping to remove the
    bedspread and provide an extra sheet to put on top of the blankets.
    There’s a good chance the blanket in the closet has been washed more
    recently than the one on the bed, so you might want to switch those out

  • Reserve a humidifier in advance. The housekeeping department of most mid-tier and above hotels will have at least one humidifier. Let them know in advance that you would like it, and clean it thoroughly before you use it. Preventing winter dryness not only makes you feel more comfortable, it may make your body ever-so-slightly less hospitable to invaders.
  • Wash your water bottle. If you use a reusable water bottle, make sure to wash it very, very thoroughly — all parts. Take it apart completely and wash it in the hottest soapy water it can take.

Here are a few more possibly-less-scientific-but-perhaps-worth-trying tips. I’ll let you decide if they work for you.

  • Antibacterial solutions: When you travel, sometimes hand washing is not an option, so some swear by products that claim to kill germs. The products I tried all came with a forest’s worth of graphs and charts attesting to their germ-killing powers. All I know for sure is that they really dried out my skin, so I needed more moisturizer.
  • Immunity-boosting foods: It seems like every day I hear a report about some new ingredient that is supposed to solve my health problems: antioxidants, probiotics, lycopene, betacarotene. Aside from chocolate, which I’m absolutely certain works (LOL) I can’t vouch for the effectiveness of any of them. But here are some alleged immunity-boosting superfoods that are easy to pack and find on the road: organic yogurt (with probiotics), goji berries, green tea and almonds.
  • Multivitamins: When we travel, the daily food pyramid often starts to look more like a frosted one-story building made of carbs and slathered in fat and sugar. Proponents say a daily vitamin made from real foods can partially make up for our lack of fresh vegetables and fruits.

Related Orbitz resources:

Samantha Chapnick is a New York writer who almost missed her deadline because she was so busy washing her hands.

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MaryJo Lipman

MaryJo Lipman

MaryJo Lipman

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