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Planes are dirty. Typically a complete germ pool, an airplane ride could be your next ticket to the pharmacy for flu medication and/or cough syrup. I’ve heard a lot of people complain about how when they travel they always catch a cold. It probably wasn’t your vacation in Mexico with bottom shelf liquor, or your choice to stay in a dodgy hostel in the middle of Thailand that gave you your current virus (though those two situations certainly don’t lessen your odds.) It was more likely your 15 hours on plane, strapped in a hurling piece of metal, whilst breathing in the same air as 240 other passengers.

Mastering the odds (ironically enough) of not getting a cold has become a science and just for typing those words I will probably get a cold the next flight, BUT there are definitely a few things I avoid while on a plane.

5 Things I Never Do On An Airplane

1. Wash my hands
Yup, you heard it first, I never wash my hands on an airplane. Studies have shown that the water stored in the tanks of the aircraft have high counts of bacteria alike to pond scum, not due to the water, but rather the uncleanliness of the tank itself. Try hand sanitizer for a change.

2. Take ice cubes
A secret a flight stewardess once told me. She said, “you don’t want to know about where that ice comes from, the water, the containers that carry it, always pass on ice in your drink.”

3. Touch the seat-back pockets
I feel like this is a given, don’t put your phone it, don’t touch it, just pretend that the convenient pocket in front of you designed for every thing you brought doesn’t even exist.

4. Say yes to tea and coffee
Ever wonder why you always see the staff with their own coffees? It’s because the water they use to make the coffee/tea on board have been tested and the results are revolting. In this recent article from Forbes, it breaks down the report on why you won’t ever ask again for tea/coffee.

5. Use the pillow
Sorry, no, your pillow probably wasn’t cleaned before you used it. It’s a great back support, but certainly not for my face. (pack your own, like this one)

Don’t let the germs of a plane deter you from travel, I sure don’t, just remember a few tips for the next time you get on one.

PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.

1. Book Your Flights

I use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

I use for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

I use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Rental Car

Self-driving is the best way to explore most destinations. I use Discover Cars for our rental cars, select full coverage insurance, and opt for a reputable company like Alamo, Hertz, or Sixt.

5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access

I use Priority Pass to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:


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