A Germophobe’s Guide to the Airport

Going on vacation? It would really suck to go through the airport, catch the flu or a common cold, and be sick during your time of rest and relaxation. As a germophobe, I am vigilant at the airport to make sure I am keeping myself as clean and healthy as possible. Here are some of my tips and tricks so you, too, can keep the germs at bay: 

Firstly, if you have to print your boarding passes at a kiosk, arm yourself with antibacterial wipes and wipe down the screen that you will be touching. Your hands may be clean, but you cannot trust that the hundreds of people that day who have already used that kiosk have washed their hands. 

Next, when you go through airport security, use hand sanitizer or a thorough hand washing right after, as the security bins are a hotbed for germs that can cause illness. The bins are rapidly recycled and touched by hundreds of people per day, just like the kiosks. Additionally, CJ and I have TSA Pre-check as United States citizens. It is different for every country, but TSA Pre-check allows me to keep my shoes and jacket on while going through security. This way, I do not have to put my clothing items in a potentially germ-filled bin and then have to put those items back on my body. 

Once you get through airport security, be cognizant of your surroundings and what you are touching. In the airport itself, drinking fountain buttons, the locks on bathroom doors, and the arms of the chairs at the gate may all be things you do not give a second thought to, but again are touched by many people. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after coming into contact with these things. 

Now I must warn you, CJ cringes about the next part I am about to tell you. And while he is super embarrassed that I do this, one flight attendant once told me he was impressed with my work! So here goes. As soon as I get on the plane, I take out my antibacterial wipes again (that I used on the kiosk to print my boarding pass) and wipe down my entire seat, the seat belt, and the arms of the chair. While that dries, I wipe the touch screen in front of me, the seat-back tray table, and the back of the chair in front of me that the tray closes in on. The pull-down tray table is one of the most bacteria-ridden areas. Think about it – almost everyone and everything on the plane touch those tables: passengers, food, beverages, electronics, and toys. Keep it clean! 

I then wipe the overhead air vents. If I have a window seat, I will wipe down the window cover as well as the wall (some people lean on the wall to sleep.) When my seat is dry, I will then sit down and pop a Cold-Eeze in my mouth to make sure my immune system is in tip top shape. Also, if you have to fill out a customs form during or after your flight, be sure to have your own pen with you. Again, the volume of people who will be using an item that you touch just increases your odds of coming into contact with something. 

Finally, if I have checked a bag, I will again take out my trusty antibacterial wipes and wipe down the luggage (pouring some extra time over the handles), as many airport employees perhaps over multiple airports have handled my bag. 

Of course, these measures aren’t a cure-all, as many things you could catch are airborne. However, I hope this awareness while moving through your day of travel helps you to stay as healthy as possible! Happy travelling!