7 Tips to Prevent Cold and Flu: Before the Flight!

by Anya Clowers, RN on October 1, 2009

7 Tips to Prevent Cold and Flu: Before the Flight!

When traveling with kids, take into account the increased exposure to people and their germs. It’s that time of the year again when symptoms of the cold or the flu can show up at the worst times. Right before a flight is one of those times. Yet reality is that life goes on and it is not always possible to delay the flight.

What can be done? In my book Jet With Kids, I have included a section on ear pain and child related illness on flights. Here I will give you some basic tips to prevent illness:

1. Try to limit the exposure of your child to other children the week before you travel. Young children spread illness quickly and many times illness shows up days after exposure.

2. Teach your kids thorough hand washing with soap. I have found that foam soap is easiest for kids to wash with. Have fun with it -my son and I compare who can make the most bubbles when washing hands which always leads to more thorough hand washing! Pack the instant hand sanitizer in an easy to reach area when traveling and use it! Outside mesh pockets of backpacks/strollers keep the sanitizer in sight and accessible.

3. Teach your child to sneeze or cough into their arm. Most of us were taught to cover our cough/sneeze with our hands. That is the worst thing to do since we then shake hands with others or touch doorknobs, elevator buttons, handrails, etc. and spread those germs! I am happy to see more attention on proper sneezing techniques (even adults need reminders! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/17/kathleen-sebelius-lecture_n_290782.html) Need a laugh? Watch this informative, funny video about coughing and sneezing. http://www.coughsafe.com/media.html *Kids are easily influenced and taught new habits. Teach them that “Cover your cough” means coughing into their arm NOT their hands.

4. Avoid sugar and junk food. This really does make a difference as you are “feeding the troops” of your immune system. Bulk up your immunity with some good nutrition and keep well hydrated with pure water! Recognize that traveling (especially by airplane) will deplete your body’s reserves and require extra hydration.

5. Allow your body some resting time before the big day of travel. Get a good night of sleep the night before and dress appropriately the day of travel. The airline cabin can get cold even in hot climates -it is best to layer clothes (children too!).

6. Give your troops (immune system) a boost! Treat your body like you would a military- sleep, nutrition, hydration, etc. really do affect “your troops”. Set your body up in a strong environment to get the job done (fighting off illness)! I like to use immune boosting products during cold and flu season and especially when traveling. My family has used various combinations of Elderberry, Olive Leaf Extract, Airborne, and Boiron’s Oscillococcinum.

7. Speak with your physician if you should consider receiving vaccinations against the flu.

Travel of any kind doesn’t begin the day we leave home. Our body is being prepped for the trip weeks in advance. With the proper tools, training, rest, and nutrition our immune system may be the difference between a trip of a lifetime or the nightmare we want to forget.

Have a safe, healthy, and enjoyable trip!

This post was originally published October 18, 2007 and is being re-published  with minor revisions.

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