Nothing can ruin a trip faster than a sick child. While there are numerous places that your child can pick up a bug, no environment breeds germs like a commercial airplane. There are lots of things you can do to make sure your kids stay healthy on your trip.
Let’s face it…. Kids are disgusting. Just the other night, I was sitting on the floor with our nearly 6 month old baby. I looked away for a second and felt the wet, warm sensation of his lips wrapped around my big toe. Sick, bro! And it’s not just babies. Older kids are no exception. Everything from snotty noses to open mouth sneezes to forgetting to wash their hands after using the restroom.
First things first. Everything you are about to touch – seat, armrests, tray table, and seat back display – is infected and crawling with bacteria and germs. You think I’m exaggerating? Check out this study. The key to staying healthy is avoiding contact with bacteria and viruses all together. Bring along some disinfecting wipes and take the time to clean any surface that you plan to contact. This should be the first thing you do when you sit down and get settled. Have the kids help with their own space. It doesn’t hurt to offer wipes to other passengers around you especially if they have the window seat and plan to touch your clean space every time they get up to use the restroom. If you are on a long flight, you should repeat the process mid-flight.
No doubt your child will need to get up to use the bathroom or stretch their legs several times during the flight (if they are like my son, it will be 20 seconds after the boarding doors close). If and when nature calls, be sure to have them sanitize their hands when returning from the “danger zone” outside of your sanitized bubble. Come on now…. You know they didn’t bother to wash their hands.
Open the Air Vents
This one seems a little counter intuitive. A lot of people imagine the air vents recirculating cabin air. However, an airline pilot friend told me that the air goes through a filtering process and is the cleanest air on the plane. His suggestion was to open the vent and point it so it blows directly in front of your face. This will not only give you an endless supply of fresh air but will work to push the stale cabin air out of your space. Since cabin temperature is usually the equivalent to summer in Antarctica, be sure to pack an extra sweatshirt or jacket to compensate for the additional cool air.
Another handy piece of advice from my airline pilot friend. Take a Q-tip and use it to lightly coat the inside of your nose with antibiotic ointment. This helps trap any germs or bacteria in your nasal passage.
Pack Your Own Food/Healthy Snacks
I’m a firm believe that the human body is capable of healing and protecting itself if provided optimum nutrients. Let’s face it…. airplane or airport food is far from the healthiest options. You’re on vacation after all. Why not cut loose and let the kids eat that slice of pizza and candy bar for lunch? The problem is that the immune system is incapable of working at 100% without proper nutrition. Plan ahead and pack some healthy snacks to take with you such as fresh or dehydrated fruit, nuts, seeds, and granola bars.
Drink Lots of Water
Drinking plenty of water is just as important as putting the right food in your body. It’s easy to forget to stay properly hydrated yourself, let alone trying to track how much water the munchkins are drinking. Bring more water than you think you will need and make sure that everyone is drinking it. To help track water consumption use a pen or marker to mark the side of your child’s water bottle with lines associated with a certain number of hours. Encourage them to drink to each line by a certain amount of time or landmark. For example, challenge your child to drink a full bottle of water before you fly over Greenland. This will help them keep track of their water consumption while giving them something to keep them entertained.
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