Natural Health

3 Secrets to Stay Healthy During Air Travel

Disclaimer: The following information has not been approved by the FDA. This information should not be interpreted as medical advice and is not a substitute for a visit with a medical care professional. Always speak to your doctor about any health concerns. 

Airports. Most people dread everything associated with them – long lines, security, layovers, travel delays. Seasoned travelers develop strategies to streamline the process (TSA PreCheck anyone?), but there is one aspect of travel that is particularly intimidating – the dreaded airplane cold! All of us want to stay healthy during air travel. Is it possible???

Our family has spent more than one vacation dealing with illness picked up on the plane. It seems like the odds are stacked against us when you consider research done by the Journal of Environmental Health Research. They report that colds and flus are 100+ times more frequent in the week following air travel. Which equates to lots of people with spoiled vacations.

After years of experimenting with different methods of avoiding germs on airplanes, we have discovered three simple secrets to stay healthy during air travel. Of course we still hold our breath when the person behind us sneezes, but we have avoided illness for three years in a row, and feel that our “Air Travel Wellness Plan” is the key to our success!!

air travel and your health 

Some of reasons air travel is challenging to our health are pretty obvious – a confined space with hundreds of people, recirculated air, and low humidity.

Few people are aware that another stress from air travel is electromagnetic fields (EMF) and electromagnetic radiation (EMR). Before you get on your flight, you are exposed to a wide array of EMR generated from radar equipment, security scanners, and communication devices. In the air, you are bombarded high levels of EMR from the airplane, combined with all the smart technology that passengers bring on board. Research has shown that even low levels of EMF and EMR can impact the immune system.

There is a lot to be done in preparation for a trip – travel planning, packing, arranging pet care, getting ahead with work projects, etc. All of these activities can challenge our rest levels and dietary choices, reducing immune health. Support your pre-travel health with foundational supplements like multivitamins, probiotics, and omega-3 fats. You should also focus on eating healthy meals and getting adequate sleep. Good choices in these areas go a long way toward avoiding illness while traveling.

As with many aspects of life, we have to take the good with the bad. Air travel is an amazing convenience and enables us to visit parts of the country and world that we wouldn’t be able to experience otherwise. And while the risk of illness is increased during air travel, it is possible to avoid travel-related illness by identifying the challenges and implementing some simple measures that protect your health and boost your immune system!


We are pretty passionate about this Air Travel Wellness Plan! Our first few vacations that included air travel also included everyone getting sick during the trip. One year it was a violent stomach flu and another a cold that last 5 weeks (I kid you not). When you work long hours you really look forward to your yearly vacation, and spending it sick isn’t part of the plan.

This plan took years to refine, but we think we’ve got a winner. Three illness free vacations and counting…

1. sambucus

I have mentioned Sambucus, or Elderberry Extract, in previous blogs. That is because our family has found its ability to boost the immune system to be amazing! Check out this “Terry Talks Nutrition” article that details a clinical trial in Australia exploring the use of elderberry while traveling. Here is what the research found:

  • Elderberry reduced the incidence of colds and flu contracted during air travel. 
  • Elderberry reduced duration and severity of illness.


  • One week before traveling start taking a Sambucus product daily.
  • IMPORTANT!  Take the maximum dose during the flight.
  • Continue use during your vacation, on the trip home, and for a few days to a week after you get home.
  • Recommended Products:  We had the kids take Sambucus Immune Syrup and the adults took Virapro. During the flight, we all used Sambucus lozenges.


We chose several essential oils with antiviral and antibacterial properties and used the direct inhalation method to shield our bodies from airborne contaminants. This is a simple method to gear up the immune system and coat the sinuses with the protective properties essential oils offer. We also discovered an added benefit during some heavy turbulence — lavender worked to relieve nausea and anxiety brought on by the bumpy ride.


  • Choose several age-appropriate essential oils with antiviral and antibacterial properties. Make sure to include them in your “liquids quart ziplock” while going through security. Our favorite essential oils to bring on the flight are:  lavender, frankincense, and balsam fir.
  • Open the bottle and place in hands cupped around the nose. Take several deep, slow breaths. Super easy for adults and children!
  • You can do this when you enter the airport and again as many times as you like throughout the flight. If someone is coughing or sneezing near you, pull out your oils and take a whiff!
  • Our entire team is excited about our newest addition to our essential oil lineup – Plant Therapy Kid Safe essential oils and roll-ons. These oil blends were created by Robert Tisserand in partnership with Plant Therapy. He is one of the world’s leading aromatherapy experts and is particularly passionate regarding essential oil safety, especially with children. These oils aren’t available on our website yet (we’re working on that) but you can call or stop in one of our four locations in Fitchburg, Sun Prairie, West Madison, or Middleton Wisconsin, to check them out!

We love using essential oils to protect our immune system during air travel. It is an added bonus that you can take a few whiffs without the aroma pervading the airplane cabin – considerate of other passengers who may be sensitive to scents.


You may have heard this one before, but it bears emphasis! Airplane environments are dry, dry, dry!  The cabin humidity level is between 5 and 10%. When our mucus membranes are dehydrated, our vulnerability to infection increases. I know, I know — if you are drinking a lot, you’ll need to use those icky airplane bathrooms. Sorry, that just can’t be avoided! 


  • Drink the recommended eight ounces per hour during the flight.
  • Avoid alcohol and coffee before and during the flight.
  • It is also a good idea to be sure that you are well hydrated before traveling.
  • Avoid salty foods and snacks while in flight.


This plan has worked for our family for three years. Coincidence? Maybe, but traveling with three young children certainly increases our chances of illness. I can’t guarantee anything but here is a little story for you – I can’t label this a clinical trial or research, just experience. We think the results are pretty obvious 😉

After a few trips that were spoiled by illness, our plan was unveiled as a “you have no choice” sort of thing (moms can get away with that). Everyone happily cooperated on the destination flight and during the trip. We had a healthy and amazing vacation! On the return flight, however, some members of our party weren’t as diligent — as in they refused to comply.

This is how the week after looked for those who did, and didn’t, apply our Air Travel Wellness Plan:

      • Complete Application:  No illness
      • Moderate Application:  Very mild illness
      • No Application:  Severe illness

the healthy place – apple wellness

The Healthy Place team believes that vacations are an amazing opportunity to de-stress, regroup, and connect with family and friends, and hope these tips are helpful to you!

We love to answer your questions and would be happy to give you recommendations specific to your health needs. Call or stop in either of our four nutrition stores located in Madison, Sun Prairie, West Madison, and Middleton Wisconsin and talk to a Wellness Consultant. Let us help you “Find Your Healthy Place”!


*Disclaimer: All information and recommendations given on this site, in email correspondence, newsletters or other materials provided by The Healthy Place is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice nor be viewed as a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare provider. Consult a licensed healthcare practitioner before modifying, stopping, or starting the use of any medications, health programs, diets, and/or supplements, as well as regarding any health concerns you may have. Our statements and information have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. As with any health-related program, product, or service, your risks and results may vary. We expressly disclaim responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or damage caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the information provided to you here.”

The Healthy Place – Apple Wellness
6313 McKee Road Suite 100
Fitchburg, WI 53719

The Healthy Place – Apple Wellness
550 Junction Road
Madison, WI 53717

The Healthy Place – Apple Wellness
2824 Prairie Lakes Drive Suite 108
Sun Prairie, WI 53590

The Healthy Place – Apple Wellness
6709 Frank Lloyd Wright Ave Suite 100
Middleton, WI 53562

3 comments on “3 Secrets to Stay Healthy During Air Travel

  1. Nicole S on

    I read this blog last year at the original posting, but didn’t follow all of the advice. I got very sick after air travel and spent most of the Christmas holiday powering through a nasty fever and muscle aches. I will not make the same mistake again! Thanks for reposting!!


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