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How To Stay Healthy During The Holiday Travel — And Cold And Flu — Season


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Planes, trains and automobiles. Those are the modes of transportation that people will be utilizing as they prepare to travel for Christmas and New Year’s festivities. According to the AAA, it’s forecasted that around 115 million people will be hitting the road, the track and the skies for the 10-day end-of-year travel period, which will be a 2.2 percent increase from 2022, and the second highest travel forecast since 2019, before the pandemic.

With an influx of people expected to crowd airports and other modes of transportation, and others packing in with family and friends for road trips, germs are certainly going to be spreading. And since, in addition to being the holiday season, this is also known as cold and flu season (unfortunately, throw some COVID and RSV in the mix too nowadays), it’s best to protect yourself so that you can partake in all celebrations happy and healthy. To do so, we consulted with Eva Beaulieu, MD, a board-certified internal medicine hospitalist and Clorox spokesperson to figure out how to prevent colds, flus and all the other icky viruses from putting a damper on our plans as we all come together for Christmastime.

ESSENCE: The jolliest time of year is also smack dab in the middle of cold and flu season. As we travel with our families for the holiday, what are the areas in airports that we should be cautious of due to a high concentration of bacteria? 

Eva Beaulieu, MD: High-touch surfaces like self-service kiosks, TSA security bins and chair armrests at gates can be among the germiest spots within the airport – most travelers encounter all or almost all these surfaces while traveling. While many can’t be avoided like handling TSA security bins, there are measures you can take to help stop the spread of illness-causing germs like avoiding touching your face after handling them, and washing your hands after getting through security.

How To Stay Healthy During The Holiday Travel — And Cold And Flu — Season
Young woman at the airport checking for the flight

What tips would you offer for staying healthy when on planes or transportation methods that are packed? What should we wipe down immediately?  

In your carry-on, I recommend packing travel-sized disinfecting products like Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes To Go Packs and hand sanitizer. Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes To Go Packs kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria on hard, nonporous surfaces when used as directed making them great for wiping down high-touch surfaces like airplane or train tray tables, armrests and seatbelt buckles.

    Traveling can take a toll on your body, so I pack a reusable water bottle that I fill up with water once I’m through security to stay hydrated. I also try my best to sleep on long or overnight flights, so I bring self-care essentials, like a travel pillow, eye mask and ear plugs, to make my flight as comfortable as possible.

    Also, while wiping down high-touch surfaces during travel is important, don’t overlook your personal belongings once you’ve arrived at your destination – they can bring germs with you, too! Clorox® Disinfecting Mist is a disinfecting and sanitizing solution that comes in a travel size and effectively kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses on hard nonporous surfaces and sanitizes soft surfaces. Perfect for hard- and soft-shell suitcases!

    Are masks still one of the best ways to go when traveling in crowds? 

    Masking is a beneficial public health tool to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses during peak travel periods, especially in crowded areas or close contact situations with poor ventilation. 

      What are things we should do to keep our immune system in a good place as we get in tight spaces with family and friends?

      A strong immune system starts with healthy habits. Make sure you’re getting proper sleep, especially before traveling. In addition to proper hand washing, what we put in our body is just as important. Staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet of nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables is key to helping our immune system work at its best. 

      I am also a huge advocate for consistent exercise. Moving our bodies bolsters the immune system and releases feel-good endorphins!

        And when faced with kids during this time of year who are prone to colds from their daycares and playdates, how can people stay healthy?

        It’s inevitable for kids to get sick from time to time, but you can adopt a holistic germ prevention strategy and implement healthy habits at a young age.

          Teach your children how to properly wash their hands with soap and water for the duration it takes them to sing “Happy birthday” twice, especially before meals and when arriving back home. People often forget how many germs can come home with their kids after being at daycare, school or spending time with friends. When entering the home, have a “drop zone” where your kids can leave school or play items that may bring germs into your home. This includes a designated place to leave shoes, backpacks and other school equipment to help prevent germs from being tracked through the house. You can spray down these items with Clorox® Disinfecting Mist, which disinfects hard nonporous surfaces and sanitizes soft surfaces. I also recommend establishing a holistic cleaning and disinfecting routine to help keep illness-causing germs at bay. When it comes to disinfecting, parents should focus on wiping down high-touch surfaces and high-traffic areas like door handles, light switches, counters and TV remotes with Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes.


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