Dr Neil Forrest of International Medical Clinic gives us some suggestions for safer travel


01

BOOKING YOUR FLIGHT

Try to travel during off-peak periods so there are fewer people on the plane. When you’re asked which seat on the plane you want to reserve, choose a window seat away from high traffic areas such as the toilets. 


02

BEFORE YOU BOARD

Boost your immune system by maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly. Some people like to take vitamin C and zinc supplements as the immune system utilises these when fighting viruses. Take a look at what vaccines you need too. Make sure that you organise these two weeks before you travel. We are also encouraging as many people as possible to take up the flu vaccine this year, particularly if you are over 65 or suffer from asthma, diabetes or heart disease. But even once you’ve done this and you experience any fever or symptoms of respiratory infection do not travel. 



03

PACKING YOUR CARRYON

While your carryon kit may have just comprised a Kindle, travel pillow and snack, you now need to make sure that you pack in a clear plastic bag some 70 per ethyl ethanol hand sanitizer, antiseptic wipes and masks. You need to make sure that you carry a spare mask for each member of the family, particularly if your flight is more than five hours long as through sweat and saliva they will lose their efficacy. 


04

ON THE PLANE 

Once you reach your seat, put those antiseptic wipes to good work. Wipe down your armrests and tray table before your settle into your seat for the flight. Airlines are stepping up their own cleaning protocols between flights, but it’s always worth doing on your own too. 

You can eat and drink on a flight. In fact, it’s important to stay hydrated as it’s good to keep the mucous membranes in your nose and mouth moist so that the hair cells (cilia) waft any potential bugs away. Before you start eating or drinking, remove your mask by the ear loops (don’t touch the front), stow in a plastic bag to keep clean, then put the mask on once again once you have finished eating. 

On long-haul flights is important to keep moving so that you avoid issues such as DVT, but try to stretch in the immediate vicinity of your seat. Avoid moving through the plane. You might even find some stretching exercises included in your inflight entertainment.

Dr Neil Forrest is a family physician for the International Medical Clinic in Singapore 

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