If you're one of the millions of Americans flying somewhere for Thanksgiving this year, you might want to brace yourself for one of the worst aspects of air travel: other people. And worst of all, the sick people you'll be stuck with while hurtling through the air for hours at a time. Not only should you mentally prepare yourself for the stress of inevitably sitting next to a sneezer, you should also physically prepare yourself to fight off the colds carried on by your fellow passengers.
With that said, there a handful of ridiculously easy measures you can take to reduce your risk of infection at 37,000 feet, according to an extensive report by CBS News. Look, we're all adults here, so most, if not all, of these thing should be common sense and hopefully, things you're already doing. Here's a quick list, per the CBS report:
Wash and sanitize your hands
Finding the right place and the right time to scrub the germs off your hands should never be difficult when you're traveling. Just hit up soap and water when you come across a bathroom, and use hand sanitizer to clean your germ-y mitts in the times between. You really don't have any excuses here.
Wipe down the tray table before you use it
The tray table is where you set your inflight bourbon, but as studies have shown, it's also one of the filthiest, germ-infested places on the plane -- sometimes even dirtier than the lavatory flush button, according to the report. One of your first orders of business should be wiping the thing down with an antibacterial wipe. Then you can crack open that mini liquor bottle.
Don't touch your damn face
Especially if you've touched pretty much ANYTHING on the airplane. As Dr. Warren Licht, an expert on travel medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told CBS, "If you consciously say, 'Stop touching my face with my hand,' you'll reduce the risk of getting an infection during flu season." Challenge accepted.
Get a flu shot
This is basically the definition of an easy, common-sense way to avoid getting sick -- and not just on airplanes. If you're old enough to read this, you're among the group of people the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommends getting a flu shot every year. Oh, and a lot of places give them away from free, so we're not going to call you an idiot if you don't get one, but...
Be in good health when you get on the plane
Turns out that of your best defenses against catching a cold when flying is maintaining a healthy lifestyle before you even set foot in the airport, according to the report. This means getting enough sleep, plenty of exercise, and eating nutritious foods. Experts say all of these things can collectively help your body fight infections.
Again, these are simple -- if not obvious -- steps you can take to prevent a cold from ruining your Thanksgiving. The thought of being too congested to properly taste all that turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie should be enough to motivate you. Although, your grandma will probably still want a kiss, even if you're sick.
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and and is not looking forward to flying this week. Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.