Don't be prey to cold and flu germs while traveling

Cold and flu season is nearly upon us, and with it comes extra susceptibility for travelers. Think about it: You're stuck on a plane with recirculated air, in close quarters with your fellow passengers, for hours at a time. It's a recipe for anyone to get sick.

According to the Journal of Health Research (as reported by Ed Hewitt of IndependentTraveler.com), an air traveler is more than 100 times likely to get a cold or flu than a person going about his or her normal routine. That's quite a margin. To fight back, Hewitt has put together a list of common precautions any traveler can take to avoid getting sick. As I'm taking two long flights in the near future, you can bet I'll be following most of his tips. Among the top recommendations:

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  • Drink plenty of water, both before and during the flight, and avoid beverages that will dehydrate you, such as coffee, tea, and alcohol.
  • Make sure your hands are clean. As it's sometimes difficult to get up and wash your hands during a flight, bring an antibacterial gel or disinfectant wipes to keep your hands (and tray table) sanitized.
  • Keep your mouth as germ-free as possible. Again, a carry-on-sized disinfectant such as mouthwash may do the trick.
  • Take vitamins. While unproven, vitamins (taken a few days before your departure) make many travelers feel safeguarded against cold and flu germs.
  • Wear a face mask. Sure, you might look a little goofy, but it's one way to filter out unwanted airborne germs. And if you're the type of traveler who doesn't like seatside chitchat, it's a guaranteed conversation killer.

(Editor's Note: SmarterTravel.com is published by Smarter Travel Media LLC, a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, which also owns IndependentTraveler.com.)

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