After getting sick a few times while traveling (which is by far the most miserable way to be sick), I became a bit of a germaphobe and started doing research and being hyper-aware of everything I did that increased my exposure to germs while traveling.
And I stopped getting sick while traveling! Here's the basic stuff I do to try to stay healthy on a trip:
- Be aware of what you're touching. Handrails on escalators, bins at TSA checkpoints, airplane armrests and tray tables, airplane lavatories. You can't avoid touching these things, but you can avoid touching your face or eating after touching them until you've had a chance to wash or sanitize your hands.
- Bring an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (for your hands) and some Wet Ones antibacterial wipes (to wipe down surfaces like airplane tray tables and armrests). I like Wet Ones wipes specifically because their active ingredient is benzethonium chloride, which is both food-safe and is one of the few antibacterial agents that's effective against norovirus. Norovirus is often found on surfaces like tray tables, but alcohol-based hand sanitizers won't kill it.
- Once you're on the plane, stay in your seat as much as possible. Statistically this is the single best way to avoid getting the flu on a plane, and is likely to be effective for other pathogens as well. Moving around the cabin and especially using the lavatory exposes you to more other passengers and more germs on surfaces.
In this old conversation I shared some links to actual research about this, and some other folks shared their own tips (like @Rusty's great suggestion to use a UV wand to help disinfect surfaces):