Health and Wellness: Travellers told us they did these on the flights!

Travellers’ Diaries: Useful Tips for Healthy and Safe Air Travel

To some, travel is an essential part of life and nothing’s gonna stop us from hopping on an airplane, regardless of global health emergencies such as the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Life has to go on. The best thing that we can do in such situations is to take safety precautions for both our state of mind and body. And that’s not limited to buying travel insurance.  We went around asking travellers for health tips that they normally practise when taking off in an airplane. Read on!

Pre-flight tips

Airport tray

In case you have not thought of this, airports are one of the most treacherous places for coming in contact with germs. Just think about the number of people that goes in and out of an airport. You never know what you may come in contact with.

“But Singapore Changi Airport is the world’s best airport!”

True, and they have enhanced precautionary measures such as increase in availability of hand sanitisers for use, increased frequency in cleaning, using ozone-infuse water as a disinfectant. Still… ….

Germy thumbprint scanners and airport security trays

B, who frequently travels to Taiwan, shared this: “I’d use my own hand sanitiser or anti-bacterial wipes after scanning my thumbprint and after touching the airport security trays. So many other travellers had touched it, you know.” A study by researchers from the University of Nottingham in England and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare once found that airport security trays carry more germs than toilets!

#TiqOurWord No hand sanitiser? Just wash your hands frequently with soap, and avoid touching your face.

Avoid airplane water

Jul, an ex-air stewardess advised, “It is better to bring an empty bottle and refill it after security check or purchase bottled water. I prefer to drink from a sealed bottle if I’m on a flight.” The 2019 Airline Water Study revealed that the quality of drinking water varies by airline, and many airlines have possibly provided passengers with unhealthy water! It states that a lot of flight attendants do not drink the coffee and tea made with the onboard potable water.

This foodie author mostly avoids airplane food because the food is unappealing (except for the ice cream). Others, including a flight attendant, revealed that airline meals can be very unhealthy. Generally, the air pressure during a flight can affect one’s taste buds and sense of smell, making food taste blander than it really is. As a result, airline caterers tend to add more spices, salts and fats to help passengers better enjoy the “sky-high cuisine”. If it is a short-haul flight, I’d advise to forgo the meal or simply enjoy your favourite local food on ground before you depart.

#TiqOurWord While most travel insurance covers overseas and local medical expenses, the last thing you’d want is to experience a bad stomach on a flight.

During the flight

Flight Tips - Masks

Wipe down the seat and table tray

This is surprisingly common among the air travellers that we have spoken to! One of them, Luke, does this every time he boards the plane. “I’d wipe down the seat, armrests, and the tray table in particular with anti-bacteria wipes. I’ve seen parents changing the baby’s diapers on the table.” Based on Travelmath report , the seatback trays are the dirtiest place on the airplane, where the total bacterial population exceeds that of the toilet by many times! That probably explains why some travellers bring their own table topper to use on top of the tray table.

BYO (bring your own) pillow and blanket

“My own pillow and blankets just give me greater comfort. I never use the in-flight pillow or blanket because I don’t know who used it before and whether it has been sterilised?” said Ven, who flies frequently for work. “Oh! And I will also bring a plastic bag to store my pillow and blanket after that. It is only for use on the flights and I will wash it after each trip.”

Put on all kinds of masks

Zoey swears by having a mask with her whenever she flies. We are not talking about surgical face mask. “I always bring my eye mask so that I can sleep better in the air, regardless of whether it’s day or night. That plus my ear plugs and moisturiser. Poor rest can compromise one’s immunity system, and dehydration is actually almost guaranteed during air travel. It is important to have good rest, stay hydrated and moisturised. She noted that she’d also bring some surgical face masks for her next trip. “Just in case I fall sick or if my neighbour is feeling unwell. Better be safe than sorry.”

Stretch breaks and compression socks

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms deep in your veins, most often in your leg. It can partially or completely block blood flow back to the heart and damage the one-way valves in your veins. So it’s important to stand up and walk about when the seatbelt sign is off.

Most people are aware of these and would take stretch breaks, especially during long flights, to avoid DVT. Others take it abit further by trying to do yoga and other exercises in the aisles or back alley space of the plane. For JL’s last trip to the United States, he wore compression socks. He said, “Compression socks enclose the calves and help the blood move more easily.”

Smell nice and relieve stress on the ears

“For long flights, I’d bring no-rinse cleanser so that I can still keep my face clean without washing in the toilet. And breath mints! It can help prevent bad breath and relieve stress on the ear. I will offer it to those sitting in my row too,” said LJ. Cabin air pressure can be quite painful on the ears for some people. Having some mints or sweets can help relieve some tensions. For a more sophisticated in-flight tool to help you manage the cabin pressure, consider a small, carry-on air purifier and breathe deeply.

#TiqOurWord Don’t be that person who leave your used tissue or napkins on the seat or in the backseat pocket. If there is bodily liquid in your trash, be considerate and let the airline crew know so that they can wear a glove or use the thongs to help dispose of the waste.

The Golden Rule

wash hands frequentlyThis one’s from Dr. Mark Gendreau on CNN Health. He cautioned on the increased risk of becoming ill while in an enclosed area. Protect yourself with a bottle of hand sanitiser. Also, wash your hands frequently, especially before a meal and after using the toilet. And don’t forget the mantra by infectious disease expert Leong Hoe Nam, “My face is sacred. Protect the face, and it helps.”

Stay safe if you are travelling and don’t forget to purchase Tiq Travel Insurance by Etiqa. Happy travels!

Etiqa Insurance is offering Free 30-Day insurance coverage for COVID-19 and Dengue Fever

This free cover is eligible to all insureds of inforce general insurance policies underwritten by Etiqa Singapore, or Maybank banking customers. Learn more here.

NOTE: The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared on Thursday (Jan 30) that the Covid-19 epidemic in China now constitutes a public health emergency of international concern. We are treating this Event as known and foreseen, effective 31 January 2020. As such, any claims arising globally from this Event will not be covered unless your policy was issued prior to 31 January 2020, 0001 hours. For more information on travel insurance coverage in relations to Covid-19, please click here.

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Information is accurate as at 3 March 2020. This policy is underwritten by Etiqa Insurance Pte. Ltd. (Company Reg. No. 201331905K). Protected up to specified limits by SDIC.

 

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