Public transportation is unavoidable, especially if you’re on vacation or have to travel for work often. What’s also unavoidable is being exposed to the millions of germs from the thousands of passengers that use the same forms of transportation daily. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to protect yourself.
1. Always travel with hand sanitizer
Plain tap water can be full of contaminants, so washing with soap and water on board doesn’t guarantee germ-free hands. Travel with a small hand sanitizer and sanitize your hands after using the restroom and as soon as you leave the transportation vehicle. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, or nose until you have left the plane or train and washed your hands properly.
2. Be careful what you drink
Speaking of contaminated tap water on public transportation, avoid ordering tea or coffee, since these beverages are made with tap water. Avoid ice, too. Instead, ask for water out of a water bottle. (See also: 7 Ways to Avoid Getting Seriously Sick on Vacation)
3. Pack antibacterial wipes
A small pack of antibacterial wipes can also help minimize your exposure to germs on public transportation. Wipe down trays, armrests, and other parts of the seat area you will touch during a flight or train ride. Use a tissue or wipe to open doors or hang on to poles instead of using your bare hands. In a rental car, wipe down handles, steering wheels, and seats weekly.
4. Avoid small talk to avoid germs
While it might seem rude not to strike up small talk with your seatmate, by keeping to yourself, you will guard yourself against germs that can be passed in cramped spaces. Even talking for a few minutes with someone who is ill can expose you to their germs. (See also: 7 Everyday Situations That Introverts Ace)
5. Practice healthy habits before you travel
The best way to avoid germs while traveling is to make your health a priority before your trip and really safeguard your immune system. Get plenty of rest, eat nutritional meals, stay hydrated, and up your vitamin C intake before leaving. (See also: Eat These 6 Foods to Stay Healthy While Traveling)
6. Pick the least crowded transportation option
If you can choose your seat on a plane or train, find one that is away from other people, if possible. This can mean sitting in unoccupied back rows or picking a plane seat where someone does not occupy the middle section. You’ll avoid germs and small talk, all at once. Score!
7. Go with a window seat
A 2018 study conducted by The FlyHealthy Research Team and the University of Florida found that people who were in window seats on planes had less contact with other passengers than the middle seat and aisle seat, and as a result, were less exposed to germs. So if you can get into a window seat, it might just improve your health. (See also: How to Score an Empty Seat Next to You on Your Next Flight)
8. Get fresh air
In a car or on a train, open up a window to get fresh air, if possible. Closed cabin air spreads germs throughout the area, so even if you’re just taking a road-trip with your family, be sure to crack the windows often.
9. Keep your nose lubricated
One of the reasons flight passengers get sick is because of the low air humidity, which dries out nasal passages and makes our bodies less effective in germ prevention. Travel with a nasal spray to help prevent this problem.
10. Travel with a water purifier
Devices like a UV Water Purifier use UV light to kill bacteria and viruses in water. So even if you don’t have already filtered water, or even tap water, you can use a tool like this to gather water from practically any source and stay hydrated without worrying about the water quality.
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