Delays are annoying but tolerable. Lost luggage is inconvenient, but at least it gives you an excuse to shop. But landing in an exciting new city only to wake up the next morning in a feverish sweat? That’s a vacation killer.

The bad news is that airports are teeming with germs, germs, and more germs. Everything from the terminal floors to the airplane bathrooms harbors microscopic viruses and bacteria. The good news? You don’t need an impenetrable bubble barrier to protect yourself and your family. With these five tips, you and your loved ones will up your chances of having the happy and healthy vacation you deserve.

1.) Wash and sanitize!

boy washing hands



Touch a sweaty bathroom door handle? Those dirt-lined bins at security check? Okay, you get the point. Thousands of travelers funnel through airports each day, so wash your hands regularly. This especially goes for kids – those curious little travelers touch everything! Microbiologist Charles Gerba told io9 that airplane bathrooms alone can carry scary things like the seasonal flu and Escheria coli. If that doesn’t make you want to grab a bottle of sanitizer, I don’t know what will.

Helpful Hint: Children might not like the rubbing alcohol scent of standard hand sanitizer. Make the experience more pleasant for them (and for you!) by picking up a bottle of scented sanitizer. And if you spot cuts or scrapes on their hands, make sure they’re properly bandaged before you apply the hand sanitizer. For very young kids, opt for gentle wipes.

2.) Stay hydrated.

Beata Becla/Shutterstock

Beata Becla/Shutterstock

While it’s tempting to guzzle Coke and coffee while devouring a bag of salty chips, the healthiest in-flight option is bottled water. According to a study by the Journal of Environmental Health Research, low humidity levels on planes alter mucus in your nostrils and mouth, leaving you susceptible to viruses.

To stay really hydrated, add foods like chopped cucumbers, watermelon slices, and regular plain yogurt (which is over 85 percent water) to your in-flight diet. These guilt-free treats won’t leave you feeling bloated and will give your immune system a needed boost. Now that’s what I’d call a win-win!

3.) Avoid aisle seats.

family airport


I already know that aisle seats are literally the worst, and now I’ll tell you why. Sure, you’ll get knocked in the shoulder by passengers, suitcases, and food carts, but these seats also serve as germ havens. That guy who’s suffering from sneezing fits? He touched your seat on his way to the restroom. That coughing kid? She’s counting how many aisle seats she can touch before sitting down. Yuck.

If you’re a poor unfortunate soul who’s stuck in a seat from Hades, just disinfect that thing with Clorox wipes. And while you’re at it, wipe down your tray, too – around 60% of airplane food trays carry MRSA bacteria.

4.) Wear socks (please).

striped socks

Anthony Shaw Photography/Shutterstock

Spring has sprung, but that doesn’t mean you should rock flip flops at the airport. You’ll be asked to remove your shoes at TSA, leaving your bare feet wide open to bacteria and fungus. The airport terminal isn’t a runway, so don’t be afraid to don your old Chucks. You want to start your vacation on the right foot, which is always an infection-free foot.

Helpful Hint: If you’ve got young passengers in tow, make sock-wearing fun by purchasing pairs in bright hues or funky patterns. It’s better to spend a few extra bucks on socks than to terrify kids with talks of foot fungus!

5.) Practice self-care.

old person sleeping on plane

In Tune/Shutterstock

Flying tomorrow? Make sure you get your full eight hours of rest. Stash fruit in your carry-on, take your vitamins, charge your iPad, and get some shut-eye in the air if possible. This is a vacation, after all, so stop stressing over deadlines, emails, or the meeting you’re missing.

Your old life will be waiting when you return, so now’s the time to relax. Sure, you might not come down with a cold if you don’t do these things, but no one wants to exit the terminal in a foreign land with under-eye circles and a bad attitude.

These tips will improve your chances of keeping the airport germs at bay. Tell us: Do you have any of your own tips to add to the list?  

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About The Author

Diana Denza

Diana is a content writer for CheapOair and OneTravel. She moonlights as a magical girl.