There’s nothing like the excitement that comes along with taking a trip. You’ve put in hours of research, you’ve planned your itinerary, and you’ve got the perfect Insta-friendly outfit to make your first travel post a home run. But there’s one itty-bitty thing that could ruin all of that if you’re not careful: getting sick.
With the flu going around, we don’t blame you for wanting to take extra precautions when packing your bags. Here, flight attendants share their top tips for nixing sickness and staving off this nasty flu the best they can. (Also check out 4 tips on how to avoid a cold or a flu)
1. Drink up
“I always, always, always bring my Hydro Flask with me wherever I go. Every airport has either a water filling station or drinking fountain once you pass through security. I fill it to stay hydrated on the plane, and then, when I get to my hotel, I refill it again at the gym.” —Alana Whitt, 37, JetBlue.
It’s true that hydration can keep you healthy: A healthy person requires at least 30 to 50 fluid ounces each day, according to Harvard Health. Hit that benchmark, and research shows you could think more clearly, stay more alert, and kick headaches to the curb. If you’re willing to gargle before you swallow, one study out of Japan showed that can actually help stave off upper respiratory infections.
2. Eat whole foods
“It’s super easy to snack on planes, and the quick and easy food can be really tempting. Still, I make it a point to choose fresh foods and salads for meals whenever I can. My body feels better, and I’m fueling it to be in its best form.” —Stephanie Charlick, 32, Virgin Atlantic.
Even better if you choose yogurt as a snack, which has been shown to boost immunity thanks to its probiotics, according to one Swedish study. Of the 181 factory employees observed, those who drank a daily supplement of Lactobacillus reuteri, a specific probiotic that appears to stimulate white blood cells, took 33 percent fewer sick days than those given a placebo.
3. Say hello to olive leaf extract
“I take olive leaf extract when I am feeling run down or a feel any symptoms starting. It makes me feel like my immune system is working the best it can, and always helps me to recover quickly if something has got me down.” —Estelle Kate, Emirates
The science behind olive leaf extract is promising. One study out of Israel showed that olive leaf has extreme antimicrobial properties, killing almost all bacteria tested including Escherichia coli cells (bacteria found in the lower intestine), dermatophytes (causing infections on the hair, nails, and skin), and candida albicans (an agent of oral and genital infections). It has also been shown to protect against the progression and development of cancer.
4. Take your vitamins
“Working for an international airline, I’m constantly going to new destinations. One day I’ll be in Munich where the weather is 28 degrees and the next day I’ll be in Mauritius where it’s 90 degrees. Going from one extreme to the other can be quite hard on my body, not to mention working in such a confined environment. I strongly believe in a healthy diet, but I rely on my vitamins. I love the Wellness Vitamins from Whole Foods. I take two daily and if I feel an imbalance, then the bottle suggests to take three every few hours (little miracles, right?).” —Emma Dalton, 25, Emirates
5. Keep moving
“I never leave home without my sneakers. Whether I’m laying over in Los Angeles and have time for a hike at Runyon Canyon, or I have a shorter layover and all I can do is a quick mile on the treadmill and some weights, I will. If I have some extra time, I’ll kick off the shoes and do some yoga as well. I’ve truly learned just how important it is to keep your body moving, especially after sitting and traveling for long periods of time.” —Alana Whitt, 36, JetBlue
She’s got the right idea: Physical activity reduces the levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, according to one University of Zabol study, which is important because stress is known to affect your immune system.
6. Wash, rinse, repeat
“My biggest flu defense trick is the oldest in the book, washing my hands! I touch so many things and come into contact with so many people, I don’t even want to think about what I possibly collect on those babies throughout my day.” —Torey Knight, 32, United Airlines.