Guard Against Germs While Traveling

There are many things you can do to help reduce the risk of getting or spreading germs while traveling.

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Summary
  • At home or on vacation, people with CF are at greater risk of getting lung infections because thick, sticky mucus builds up in their lungs, allowing germs to thrive and multiply. 
  • Be sure to follow the same infection prevention and control practices on vacation that you do at home and in everyday life. 
  • There are also extra precautions you can take that will help keep you safe and healthy during your travels.

Whether at home or on vacation, people with CF are at greater risk of getting lung infections because thick, sticky mucus builds up in their lungs, allowing germs to thrive and multiply. CF lung infections, caused mostly by bacteria, are a serious and chronic problem for many.

While on vacation, be sure to follow the same Infection Prevention and Control Guidelines that you do at home and in everyday life. In addition, there are extra precautions you can take that will help keep you safe and healthy throughout your travels.

Wash Your Hands

Keeping your hands clean is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick.

  • Wash your hands often with warm, soapy water.
    • Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap. 
    • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
    • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
    • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
    • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air-dry them. If you are in a public restroom, do not use the hand dryer.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Use a sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
    • Be sure to use enough to keep your hands moist for at least 10 seconds -- the minimum time needed to kill bacteria.

Keep Germs Away in Flight

The enclosed space, the stuffy recycled air, the person next to you who may be suffering from a cold: It's no wonder airplanes have gotten a reputation as germ factories. Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself from germs:

  • Wear a mask. Protect yourself from airborne germs by wearing a face mask.
  • Use the overhead air vent. Blow airborne germs away by setting the air vent above your head at low or medium. Adjust the vent so that the air current blows in the direction of an imaginary line from the front of your head to your hands when they are placed on your lap. 
  • Keep your hands clean. Wash your hands or use a 60% alcohol-based hand gel.
  • Drink bottled water. Staying hydrated keeps your respiratory tract moist, which gives you more protection against germs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Wipe down the tray table, the in-flight entertainment console, the armrests, and your seat-belt buckle with disinfectant wipes. Germs from other people's unwashed hands can be transferred to these objects and then transferred to you.
  • Avoid touching surfaces in the bathroom. Limit your contact with all surfaces and wash your hands extra carefully. Use a paper towel to turn on the faucet; wash with warm, soapy water; and then use a new paper towel to turn off the faucet and to open the bathroom door.

Be Careful With What You Eat and Drink

Unclean food and water can cause serious infectious diseases. If you are traveling to developing countries, you are especially at risk.

  • Choose restaurants with a reputation for cleanliness and safety.
  • Do not buy food from street vendors.
  • Only eat fully cooked food that is served hot.
  • Wash and peel all fresh fruits and vegetables yourself. Do not eat sliced fruit that may have been washed in contaminated water.
  • Eat and drink only pasteurized dairy products. Avoid eggs unless they are hard-boiled.
  • Avoid fruit juices, fresh salads, and open buffets.
  • Avoid cold toppings and sauces -- even bottled sauces on tables.
  • Drink only water, sodas, or sports drinks that are bottled and have a seal that is unbroken.
  • Drink only water that has been disinfected (boiled, filtered, or treated).
  • Do not use ice in any drinks. 

Be Careful When You Bathe or Swim

Unclean water can also make you sick but there are ways to reduce your risk. 

  • In some areas, tap water may not even be safe for brushing your teeth. Use bottled water instead.
  • Avoid getting water in your mouth or nose when you shower or take a bath.
  • Avoid water where animals are drinking or wading, including bodies of fresh water such as lakes or ponds.
  • Swim in pools or water parks that are chlorinated.
  • Avoid hot tubs, Jacuzzis, or areas where there is a lot of steam and water vapor that can be inhaled.
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Topics
Germs | Traveling with CF
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