Catching a cold - or any ailment - right before a trip can wreak havoc on best laid plans. Who wants to fly when you're battling a stuffy head, aching limbs, and a hacking cough? Such was the case before a recent trip, when I struggled the days prior to contain a wicked cough that kept me up at night. How could I manage to get myself through an early morning flight without scaring off my fellow passengers - and keeping myself sane? Here are some proven tips:
Bring a Toiletry First-Aid Kit
Assemble a toiletry kit filled with needed relief, including medicine, cough drops, and antibacterial wipes. Do not leave the house empty handed and expect to find said medicine at the airport. You are just adding unnecessary stress to an already taxing situation. Better yet, have a pre-assembled kit ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Our ideal kit includes:
- Pepto Bismol
- Pain Reliever of your choice
- Wet Wipes
- Cough Drops
- Water bottle
Water is your best friend
Again, come prepared with your own water bottle for ample fluids on hand. Do NOT rely solely on the flight attendants for your water supply. Hydration is key to minimizing the drying affects of flying. And who wants to wait for water to be delivered while you are in the throws of a bad coughing fit? No thank you.
Bring a scarf
Even if it is the middle of summer, the scarf will serve as a barrier for germs. Use it to cover your nose and mouth and avoid spreading germs to fellow passengers.
Wipe down every surface
Use Wet Ones to scrub your seat belt fastener, tray table, and any other shared surface as soon as you sit down, and after you leave. Think about how many people touch these surfaces over the course of a week! Take preemptive measures to lessen further exposure to harmful germs.
Take a decongestant
High altitude can be a killer on your sinuses. A decongestant will help alleviate ear and nose pressure.
Bring your creature comforts
A comfortable neck pillow for added support, a travel blanket for warmth, and a warm stocking cap are my go-tos. Best to have needed implements on hand to create a perfect sleep cocoon (see our own step-by-step guide here) and bundle yourself up.
Appeal to sympathy
If you are dealing with a more severe illness and are hesitant to even fly in the first place, call the airline. If the representative is not very helpful, ask to speak with a manager. While all airline policies are different, there is no harm in stating your case and asking if a ticket change is possible at no additional cost to you. If all else fails, and you are not able to get a favorable response from the airline, appeal to the airline’s customer service department. A thoughtfully worded letter explaining your health situation can go a long way and is always worth the extra effort. Twitter is another powerful tool to catch the airline's ear. Airlines today go out of their way to provide ample customer follow up. Appeal to their better nature.