Four mini-kits when traveling during cold, flu and virus season

I am traveling to The Netherlands next week, and with cold and flu season in full swing, as well as the scare of the coronavirus, I put together my personal onboard survival kits for the trip.

We all know to wash our hands and not touch our faces when there is a possibility of exposure to sick people. But on an eight-hour flight, it’s pretty hard not to touch your face a few times.

It can happen to the best of us

I honestly don’t think people knowingly get on a plane while sick but it happens just the same. I can only imagine the other 300 passengers who were on the DC-10 flying from Chicago to Portland were not very happy with the horribly sick passenger in the bathroom the entire five-hour flight. But I wasn’t too happy either.

It was 1997 and I was coming back from a family trip to Chicago and felt perfectly fine when I found my seat somewhere in the middle of the plane. By the time the plane reached altitude, I was running to the cramped bathroom at the back of the plane.

After several trips there, I relinquished my comfy window seat for the cold hard one in that tiny bathroom. Looking back, I am glad it was so small because the sink was throwing up distance away from the toilet.

I spent the entire trip in that lavatory and the flight attendant had to force me out so we could land in Portland. They made an announcement to the other passengers to please stay in their seats once we landed so they could get a wheelchair escort for me off the plane.

I was mortified. Especially when I saw several passengers covering up their mouths with tissues as I was wheeled off like a hardened criminal.

The point is, take precaution and bring a few things along to keep you from catching “it”.

My germ-free kit for travel during cold, flu and virus season

Our noses are our natural filtration system and using a good saline nasal spray is my personal most important item to bring. It not only keeps your nose from being too dry but also cleanses your nasal passages of bacteria.

My next must-haves are disinfectant wipes for my eyeglasses. I use them on my glasses first then wipe down my phone and earbuds.

How do my glasses get so dirty every day?

I bring a couple of different sanitizers with me to clean areas around me. Greenerways Organic Natural Hand Sanitizer comes in a 2oz travel size, and Stall Mates has a flushable, individually wrapped wipe with aloe I also like.

Lastly, with the outbreak of the coronavirus, I will be bringing a few N95 facemasks with me. I have a box of them because of the smoke during California’s wildfires and I’m glad I have some on hand. If someone is sitting next to me coughing, I will at least have some protection from airborne viruses. It’s important to make sure it seals around your face, so be sure to contour that metal part around your nose.

Check out this article for some good tips while flying during this time. I especially liked the part about directing the airflow away from you.

My hydration and snack kit

My husband likes to tease me about bringing my own water bottle everywhere I go, but I personally don’t want to rely on a flight attendant to bring me water. I’ll be traveling on a plane with approximately 400 other passengers and I try to be as independent as possible.

My friend Linda of Linda On The Run recommended this refillable filtered water bottle and I’m excited to have it for my trip. I also throw healthy snacks in my bag, which helps me steer clear of chips and pretzels. Pick a few nourishing choices that you like and you will step off the plane feeling great.

Anytime I am flying for eight hours or longer I personally like to get some rest. Sleep helps the flight seem quicker and also helps boost my immune system. I try to select a window seat and like to make myself as comfortable as possible.

My sleep kit

The minute I get settled in on a long flight, I slip on my compression socks. My husband loves his too and even wears them during long days of standing for work. They increase blood circulation and help a ton with swelling or even deep vein thrombosis and clotting (DVT).

On my last trip to Europe, I tried an inflatable travel pillow, which worked well. However, this trip I am bringing a Trtl Pillow because of how soft it is. I’m not a big fan of eye masks because they smash my eyelashes, so I was happy to discover these contoured ones, which also come with earplugs (remember to wipe your earplugs down with disinfectant wipes).

My other trick is to bring a few packets of chamomile tea. You would be surprised how well chamomile works for helping you relax. I bring along my thermal travel mug and ask a flight attendant to fill it with hot water to create my own sleepy-time tea.

Traveling during cold, flu and virus season

My entertainment kit

If I’m not sleeping I like to have a few things to keep me entertained. I always bring a good book. For me, a page-turning juicy novel is my favorite choice. Of course, I have my phone or tablet for entertainment so I bring along my Goal Zero Sherpa power bank. I really love how thin it is so it fits easily into my small purse.

Also, it’s a good idea to have a PortaPow Data Blocker when plugging your phone into any public charging station. It protects from the other kind of viruses and also data transferring. Did you know that was even a thing??

I am looking forward to my trip to Amsterdam and this will be my first transatlantic flight by myself. I have done everything I can to strengthen my immune system and feel great for my trip.

If you have any tips for me, I would love to hear from you in the comments. Here’s to safe, healthy travels for us all.

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Reader Comments

  1. Valerie Koob

    My daughter wanted to do a solo vacation after graduating from nursing school last spring, and she went to Amsterdam. She loved it! Hope you do too. And be sure to visit the Anne Frank House.

  2. Pat Birnie

    Enjoy Amsterdam Loretta. One of the best things you can do for immunity is to take a good quality probiotic every day while traveling – particularly the days you fly or on trains etc. 80% of your immunity is in your gut…the antibacterial products actually wipe out both your good and bad bacteria, so it’s important to replenish it! have fun!

  3. LeAna

    I’m going Amsterdam in April! You’ll have to share with me any tips you have from your trip. I take my own water bottle along, too for the exact same reason! I don’t want to be dependent upon the flight attendants who are already busy enough.

  4. Mel

    Hi! The corona virus is quite a scare worldwide. Come to think it brings us to the basics of personal hygiene: proper washing of hands. Your mini kits are really very informative, some are refreshers of what we already know, the rest, seems the first time we heard of it. Thank you for writing this article wherein we could learn about how to protect ourselves from illnesses and prevent being carriers of viruses too. 😀

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Such a scare.
      Thank you Mel. I definitely wanted to share a few of my favorites, even though most people know about some of this. I love those Stall Mates – so easy to put in even my little sling purse. Here’s to healthy travels, my friend!

  5. overthehilda

    Thanks Loretta, Super advice. I do something similar to you except for the face masks. I must look into getting some of those, but I am not sure we have any good ones here. I have a post written about travelling with some of your tips on it waiting to publish too. We loved Amsterdam. Book your Anne Frank before you go… I did a post on Amsterdam a few years ago. xxxx

  6. Natty Gal

    My heart goes out to you for that trip when you were sick! One of my biggest fears. Great ideas on how to stay healthy, especially the use of saline spray! Often before a bigger trip, I’ll take a course of probiotics and pop a couple vitamin C tabs just to try to get my immune system in top notch before the stresses of travel. Have a wonderful time!

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Thank you Betsy! It was definitely NO fun on that flight when I was sick. I love your suggestion to boost your immune system prior to leaving. That has been my goal these last few weeks…lots of rest, healthy eating, exercise, water and those oh so important probiotics. X

  7. Sherri Preston

    Loretta, these are some great tips!! I like to think I ma well prepared, usually go over board according to my husband, but you have listed a few I missed. I always carry my own water bottle and refill when needed, I also like to be able to open it without touching the part where you put your lips for fear of germs, inspite of the teasing, I continue to do it!!
    Loved the tip about the wipes for your glasses, they really are multipurpose and not always thought of that way! The thermal travel mug is also a good idea, I travel with my own tea, even a mini plastic container of honey, but up until now, not the mug.
    Thanks for a great post!

  8. Del Dot

    Hi Loretta, I fly long haul with little kids so sleep is usually not something I can count on. I try to sleep well and eat well a couple of days before our flight. We carry Purell sanitizing wipes and wipe down all surfaces around our seats in the plane before we settle down – window shades, seat belt buckles, tray tables, arm rests and remote/screen buttons. I use paper towels to open bathroom doors and toss them after. And when we reach our destination, we shower and put away all airplane clothes and jackets straight away for laundry, before touching anything. I also wipe down our luggage handles and zippers, and sanitize my phone. We try to catch up on sleep when we reach, and drink a lot of water. As you can tell, I hate being sick! We tried wearing masks but our kids pull them off (or fiddle with them, touching their face more) and the toddler yanks out our masks in no time at all. I use compression socks too! Wishing you a wonderful trip to the Netherlands!!!

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Thank you so much! Love your suggestions, especially the one about cleaning your travel clothes! I’ve never done that, but will this trip. Yeah, masks are a last ditch effort just in case I’m sitting next to a cougher. So excited for my trip. Xx

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