For a few years, I was paranoid about getting sick while travelling. My immune system was compromised from a plethora of infections that had me popping amoxicillin like Pez, and my body was not fighting anything off. I spent the majority of my European excursions knee deep in Kleenex and waking up the entire hostel with my German Shepard bark-coughing.
When I got home, I vowed to do everything I could to avoid getting sick while traveling again. Between visits to the naturopath, online research and some trial and error, I have found my secret sauce. Here is a list of what to pack in your carry on to avoid getting sick while travelling!
While my naturopath told me it’s best to get enough Vitamin C from real food (AKA fruits and vegetables) it’s illegal to transport these items internationally. While flying, I settle for Emergen-C packets to keep my Vitamic C intake up. Whether it’s a placebo effect or not, I find it helps me stay healthy while traveling.
Pack these in your carry-on and take them out as soon as you get in your seat. Then, start scrubbin’! I’m talking everything. Every inch of the tray table (front and back!), your arm rests, seatbelts, even the cloth of the seat in front of you. The turnaround time for planes is QUICK, so you know the flight attendants ain’t cleaning the area you’re about to eat on, and who knows what came before you.
Next up, Hand sanitizer! I bring this everywhere when I travel, but this is a must pack in your carry on to avoid getting sick on the plane. There are germs everywhere while travelling somewhere new, and planes are no exception. Use this sparingly and don’t forget to moisturize as it can dry out your hands. Planes dry you out as well, so keep a little moisturizer in your carry on!
Oil of Oregano and/or Anti-Viral Tincture
I bring this just in case I feel myself coming down with something. While my naturopath only recommended using this if you feel a sickness brewing, sometimes I will take a few after a long flight to up my defence against anything nasty I inhaled on the plane. An anti-viral tincture is another great option that is more natural, full of echinacea, Astragalus, Reishi mushroom and liquorice.
Travelling to new destinations can cause the stomach to go from OMG to WTF to TTYL real quick. I take a probiotic everyday, and make sure I pack the bottle in my carry on. If you are feeling rundown and decide to use Oil of Oregano, make sure you take your probiotics so the good bacteria in your gut is protected.
Chug water like you just woke up from a three day bender in Vegas. It’s best to up your water intake a few days before flying, especially on long haul flights. Dehydration is one of the key culprits to illness, so drink water to flush out anything that might cause you to get sick. As soon as you are through security, buy two water bottles. Chug one right away and then save the other for the plane (bring an empty stainless steel water bottle to keep water cold!). This is a struggle for me as I love the window seat, so getting up to go the bathroom constantly can be annoying. What’s more annoying though? Getting sick while travelling.
Essential Oils – Immune and Peppermint Halo
Essential Oils can help protect you from infections and nasty bugs that can circulate on airplanes. The air quality on planes is no bueno. I LOVE Sage products. My favorites are peppermint halo (great for headaches or tight muscles) and Immune to fight off bugs. If I had to pack only one thing in my carry on, it would be essential oils.
Not only are scarfs cozy and can double as a blanket, they can also be used as a bit of a shield to germs on the plane. This may not be scientific, so you may want to opt for an actual facial mask, but it seems to work for me. If there is someone coughing around me, I’ll always tighten the scarf around my nose and mouth for another line of defence.
Never order a hot drink or a drink with ice on an airplane
The hot water is brewed on the airplane, and often doesn’t reach temperatures hot enough to kill e.coli. Many cases of E.coli have been linked back to airplanes. As for the ice, the ice trays and scoops used to grab the ice don’t get cleaned very often, and some airplanes resort to using the tank water to make the ice. Gross!
Blanket, neck pillow and food. Unless visibly soiled, most pillows and blankets supplied on planes are re-used. As for meals, a lot of companies that supply airplane food have had historically bad inspections (roaches included!! *Vomits in mouth*). While I’m sure many have cleaned up their act (pun intended) you really won’t know where your meal is coming from, or how long ago it was prepared. And let’s be honest, the food is never good. You’re just bored or unprepared. Plan ahead and pick up something yummy that will last on a flight like a salad with dressing on the side.
Find out your cycle schedule
Ladies, our cycles have more to do with getting sick than we think. If you are particularly sensitive to the rise and fall of estrogen or progesterone, you may want to plan ahead. For me, I tend to feel rundown right before or right after aunt flow comes to town. Start tracking how you’re feeling with an app like Flo or Hormone Horoscope and you should see a pattern.
I now have a reminder in my phone during times I know I’ll be susceptible to illness, and I up my water and supplement intake to fight germs while my immune system is a little compromised. For more information on this, check out this post on period colds or flu-like symptoms and your period.
I hope these tips of what to pack in your carry on to avoid getting sick while travelling help and allow you to get the most out of your vacation!