I think morphing into germaphobe is just something that comes with the territory... the territory of an airplane.
I'm generally pretty relaxed (though mindful!) about things like general germ-y grossness and even environmental health dangers on the ground but I go to greater lengths to protect myself when flying. Recycled air is the perfect playground for germs, rivaled only maybe by a preschool. Plus, no one wants to be sick ever, but that's especially, especially true on the road.
This post originally appeared on Map Happy.
Cheers to a healthy flight! (Bottled water, please.)
Clean your corner of the plane.
Other ways to keep all the membranes moist (if you're someone who hates that word I apologize but this in the name of health) include eye drops and nasal spray. Moisturizers, sprays and balms do wonders for comfort, too.
Don't drink the bathroom water.
I learned from a flight attendant that I should use bottled water to brush my teeth: Cabin crews have always known not to let the bathroom tap water even touch their lips. The Wall Street Journal tested water samples on 14 different flights in 2002 and discovered the water was "not potable by any means." We're talking salmonella, staphylococcus and tiny insect eggs swimming in the stuff. My skin is crawling just writing this.
The EPA later established the Aircraft Drinking Water Rule (ADWA)... but I would really, really rather not.
Avoid anything that'll cause gas.
The fact of the matter is that being gassy is totally unpleasant. And it's often not just the poor, ballooned person wishing to god they had an elastic waistband on that suffers but everyone else in the general environment. (See: HAFE.) And that's the entire plane.
Sometimes it's going to happen so the best anyone can hope for is to minimize the bloating/HAFE as much as possible and avoid certain foods pre-flight. The no-go list includes anything rich and fatty but also a lot of healthy stuff people choose to chomp on like cruciferous greens, any leafy veggies, dairy (milk was a bad choice) and beans (duh). Salt causes water retention, so now you're not just feeling like a balloon but a water balloon.
Health.com has a slideshow of foods that cause bloating, as well as foods that alleviate it. Go bananas!
Sunscreen is actually important.
Getting struck by lightning might not be really anything to be too concerned about but sunburn and radiation? Those things, yes.
A study published last year actually found that pilots and flight attendants have double the risk for developing skin cancer. That's because flying gets us closer than the sun than we normally ever are and the blazing UV rays hit us even more intensely. So we should be slathering on the sunblock like we're already on the beach in the destination where we're headed. Another effective mode of protection: Keep the window shade down.
Go easy on the booze.
Karina Martinez-Carter is an editor at Map Happy. She is a freelance writer and editor who has contributed to Road Warrior Voices of USA TODAY Travel, BBC Travel, BBC Capital, Thrillist and more.