With the major life changes from the pandemic waning and travel fully back on, a lot of us will be doing a lot of traveling during this holiday season. However, with winter being peak Flu, cold, and COVID season, it can be tricky to navigate this time of the year especially when you’re trying to avoid getting sick and passing anything on to family members. There are precautions you can take, and Dr. Chris McStay shared some tips with Travel + Leisure to help guide you this holiday travel season.
This year, we’re all facing a “tripledemic” of Flu, COVID, and RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus), along with the regular risk of the common cold. According to Dr. McStay, who is the vice chair for clinical operations in the department of emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, “By objective measurements, this season is worse than prior seasons,” he said. “Nationally we see widespread activity and New York State is experiencing its worst influenza since 2009.”
Dr. McStay said that just like every year, the usual advice applies, even though this year’s cold and Flu season is “objectively worse than previous years.” The main thing you can do to protect yourself is to get up to date on your vaccinations.
Dr. McStay said: “Vaccines, particularly with influenza and COVID, are a mainstay of prevention and have meaningful impacts both on a population and individual level.” Additionally, maintaining good hygiene like wearing a mask and regular hand washing always helps. Even though masks are not required, they can be an additional safety measure.
If you’re wondering if seat location on the plane makes a difference, Dr. McStay says that there is a slightly smaller chance of contracting an airborne virus by sitting by the window.
He explained: “There is some data to suggest that a window seat may present less chance of exposure to certain viruses given the lower number of people that would “walk by” a passenger sitting in that seat,” but he also highlighted that “given the close and complex interactions travelers face (going through security, boarding, etc.) placing a high emphasis on obtaining such a seat may not be worth it.”
Traveling does not lower your immunity, but stress certainly can, McStay says. He says that trying to maintain a regular sleep schedule and eating healthy can help keep you on track to staying healthy throughout the holiday season and any travel that you’ll be doing.