Business Trips – How to Keep from Getting Sick

If you travel for business this might sound familiar: you get back from a productive trip, eager to get back in the swing of things at the office. But snap, you wake up with a nagging sore throat and cough. 

Now instead of being able to hit the ground running, you’re stuck with the sick, slower-moving version of yourself to face off on the work you have to do.

While there’s not much to do except to ride it out once you get sick, there are some precautions to keep in mind for the next time you go away. Consider these tips on what you can do before and during travel to avoid getting sick from your next business trip.

Take Antibacterial Wipes

These are a good idea to have and use particularly on the plane and at the airport. 

Before you get comfortable in your seat, wipe down the seat buckle, the tray table and the armrests. These are the most likely places on the plane you’ll pick up germs (with your hands). 

Wash hands frequently

Washing your hands is key when it comes to preventing illness in general – so do so frequently while you’re traveling for business. And, carry an alcohol-based antibacterial gel to use when you don’t have access to soap and water.

“Handwashing is the single most important infection control measure,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an advisory issued to cabin crews on commercial flights. 

At the airport, be sure to wash your hands after touching public areas like a ticket machine or using a keypad at a concession or vending area (and of course anything in the bathroom). 

Consider a face mask

It might seem extreme but wearing a face mask over your nose and mouth can help ward off breathing any bacteria in the air from coughing and sneezing passengers, and it also moistens your nasal passages – which can help keep germs from sticking around.

Drink more water

Staying hydrated is a great way to stay healthy in general but you might want to amplify your efforts while traveling for business by drinking more water than usual – to counter the dehydrating effects of the dry air you’re exposed to on a plane and in some hotels.

Avoid airplane-issued pillows, blankets, etc.

If it’s cold weather or you tend to get chilled on an airplane, bring your own blanket or be sure to wear or put layers in your carry-on so you don’t have to ask for a blanket.

Same goes for a pillow – if you really need one to get comfortable, buy and pack a small one to use when you fly. Not only do you avoid the germs left behind on the items but also any bacteria from their storage bin.  

Take heed of germy TSA area

Studies have indicated the TSA bins at security checkpoints as among the most germ-covered items at the airport.

But since it’s not feasible to sanitize a bin before you put your shoes, carry-ons, etc., into one (could you imagine the fuss in the TSA line you’d cause?), wipe your items with an antibacterial wipe and definitely wash your hands after you go through.

Another tip for the TSA area: wear socks. This way if you have to take off your shoes to go through, you avoid any bacteria left lurking by passengers walking barefoot. (Athlete’s foot and warts are two issues transferable from virus and bacteria on the floor.)      

Traveling By Car?

If you’re taking a rental car for your business trip, be sure to clean all the surfaces you’ll touch while driving with an antibacterial wipe, including radio, window and air temperature controls.

You’ll also want to be germ-cautious in the public rest areas, restaurants and gas stations along the way. Combat tactics include frequent hand washing and using antibacterial wipes to clean door knobs and latches in bathrooms. 

Before Your Trip

Keep your illness-fighting goal in mind as you prepare for your business trip. For example, try to keep yourself in good pre-travel health – to better fight off germs during travel – by getting enough rest and eating healthy in the days before you leave.

Also, besides packing antibacterial wipes and handwash gel, tuck away other personal items you need to stay healthy, maybe your own snack to ward off nausea.

Self-Care During Trip

Business owners often feel added stress while out of town for work, adding to the stress of travel itself. But it’s important to your health to keep stress levels down.

The CDC advises business travelers to do these things to avoid the negative effects of stress:

  • Eat healthy meals.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Get a good night’s rest. 

On longer trips, to maintain your mental health, stay in regular contact with your friends and family at home.