Posted by Claudia Grazioso on February 6, 2012
We are planning a small family trip that will involve flying on an airplane, and I am stoically gearing up for hell. My kids are actually pretty good on airplanes now that I’ve given up the “everybody has to read” rule and eagerly spring for headphones so they can all watch five hours of SpongeBob. What I am preparing to do battle with is germs. Every time we get on a plane, someone gets a cold (or worse, knock wood). Which is another way of saying eventually we all get it. So I was perusing the vitamin aisle at our local health food store when I ran into a mom I know. I told her we were getting ready for a plane ride and she instantly understood the twenty or so boxes of Vitamin C in my basket. It struck me as kind of funny that all moms just brace for illness when they take their kids on a plane. I mean, how dirty can those things actually be?
Really, really, really dirty. I probably could subtitle this post Things That Make You Go Eeeeww. Let’s start with the airplane bathroom. Or should I call it the Yuck Compartment? I always thought that the biggest issue on planes was colds and flu, but it turns out that recent studies have found that E-coli is all over airplane bathrooms. Yes, the really bad bug that occasionally makes the news after a tragic outbreak somewhere has been found on most surfaces in airplane bathrooms. So what can you do? Since it’s impossible to stop kids from touching everything (despite screaming “Don’t touch anything!” at them), it seems your best bet here is antibacterial hand gel. This is not the time to think organic and worry about how harsh it is on skin. This is the time to call in the big guns. Just make sure it’s all rubbed in so it doesn’t end up in your child’s eyes or mouth.
Another hint for keeping the bugs away while traveling is to always wear socks. Now that we’ve added de-shoeing to the security process, airport floors are a great place to pick up some unwanted fungus or athlete’s foot. Make sure your kids have socks, and launder the heck out of them when you get to your destination.
And those little blankets and pillows that the airline hands out? Probably not a good thing to have next to your face. Planes are constantly unloading and loading passengers and there are plenty of times the blankets and pillows are simply folded and put back in the overhead bin. Which means there’s a good chance that you or your child is snuggling with someone else’s dried drool. I know it’s a pain to lug pillows and blankies from home, so I usually let my kids snuggle with my coat. It’s not always the cleanest, but it’s nobody’s over-sized Kleenex either.
Finally, some experts recommend using a nasal spray on the flight to keep noses moist and less susceptible to germs. And the friend I ran into the health food store told me that she wipes a bit of Neosporin under her child’s nose. She claims that antiseptic cream has kept the travel colds at bay. I can’t imagine something so simple would actually work, but hey, this trip I’ll give it a try.