How not to catch a cold on a plane flight


How not to catch a cold on a plane flight

Smooshed in a middle seat in the deepest, darkest corner of Economy on a plane is a far cry from the golden age of travel.


I love to travel.  I hate flying.  It’s a problem. (Especially living an ocean away from my family!).  Part of my hatred is because I still can’t believe that planes can fly, and am convinced we’re going to crash at the slightest turbulence.  The other part of my hatred is because of the hassle of airports, security, endless waits, delays, expenses and the fact that I always seem to catch a cold from a long flight!


Why do we seem to catch a cold on a plane flight?  Two reasons: dry air, and lots of people in a confined space.
At high altitudes, the air doesn’t have as much moisture in it, which dries out your respiratory system and makes it more susceptible to germs.
What can you do to stay healthy while flying?


  • Stay hydrated – drink lots of water!  They say to avoid alcohol and caffeine on flights because they’re dehydrating … but given my flight anxiety, having some wine with dinner really helps me relax.  So I bring along a full water bottle and ask the flight attendants to refill it for me when empty.
  • Moisturize – hand and face moisturizer are always handy if your skin dries out.  But I’m talking about moisturizing your nasal passages (fun!)  For any flight longer than 5 hours, I’ve started using a simple saline nasal spray hourly during the flight.  Might look weird, but it makes my nose feel so much better.  I didn’t even realize it was so dry until I started doing this.
  • Be extra germ aware – wash your hands frequently, and don’t touch your nose or eyes.
  • Bring comforting items – this is unscientific, but a personal belief – I think our immune systems are stronger when we’re relaxed, comfortable and happy (ie, not stressed).  So bring some items to improve your flight experience – my travel kit contains: fuzzy socks, a good book, noise-cancelling headphones, my ipod, and warm scarf/wrap.

As a last touch, being the product junkie that I am, I now bring a homemade facial mist.  In my less-green days I used an evian facial spray, or even more expensively, one of the fancy face spray products made for plane travel.  But now I make my own.  It’s super simple, you can customize the scent, and packs a double-punch of being antibacterial AND relaxing.

Jet Setter Facial Mist

Rosewater (or distilled water) – Rosewater is moisturizing and soothing, so it’s perfect in this recipe.  But you could also use orange flower water or distilled water.

Essential oils (lavender, geranium, rosemary, or whatever you prefer)

Small pump spray bottle (under 100ml for airline regulations!)

How to: Add 50ml or slightly less than 1/4 c. of rosewater to your spray bottle.

Add 10 drops of essential oil (I used 5 drops lavender, 3 drops rosemary, 2 drops geranium).

Shake.  Spray on your face or in the air in front of you on the plane (avoiding your seat-mates!!)

Note: The ratio is 20 drops essential oil per 100 ml of water.  Use any combination of essential oils that you want.  I would include something purifying like eucalyptus, rosemary, tea tree, lemon etc.  plus something relaxing like lavender, geranium, clary sage etc.

How do you stay relaxed & healthy while travelling? Share your tips below.

About the author

Amanda Cook is an author, entrepreneur & alchemist. She helps entrepreneurs, business owners & executives rediscover their inner guidance, so they can create meaning, success & magic in their next stage of life & work.

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  1. I should have read this before my last flight. I have just caught a cold in my long flight from Guangzhou to Amsterdam. Anyway, drinking lots of water also have drawback: it makes you go to lavatory more often (it’s very difficult for passengers sitting not in the aisle) and hence more chance to contract viruses and/or bacteria 😀

    1. Sorry to hear that! I know what you mean about drinking water … just have to ask for an aisle seat I guess 🙂

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