Protect yourself from germs during holiday travel

If you've booked a flight to visit your loved ones this winter, you may be concerned about sharing a cramped airplane cabin with so many people during the height of cold and flu season.

As you pack your bags and make arrangements for airport transportation, consider these holiday travel senior health tips.

The real culprit
When you think of catching a cold while flying, you're probably imaging the billions of germs floating through the air that's trapped in the cabin. However, it's actually the surfaces on the plane that you should be worried about. Fitness magazine explained that airplanes are equipped with similar air filters to those you find in hospitals. The filters remove almost all of the microbes from the air while ushering in fresh oxygen for passengers.

Wipe it real good
Your best defense against germs when you're flying is packing a supply of antibacterial wipes in your carry-on bag. When you get to your seat, you should give everything you'll be touching a once over with the disinfectant wipes, including the tray table and in-flight entertainment system. Tray tables are the most important area to tend to, since you may be using the surface to eat. You should also disinfect the seatback pocket in front of you and your seatbelt.

Packing wipes that are safe to use on your hands can be helpful when it comes to security since you're limited on how much liquid you can carry on the plane. No matter how many surfaces you disinfect around you, keeping your hands germ free is continuous job. Additionally, take care to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth while you're traveling because these are areas germs can easily enter.

Restroom precautions
While this may not come as a surprise, airplane bathrooms are where you'll find most of the germs. Bring a wipe with you to avoid touching the door handle, and be sure to sanitize your hands when you return to your seat. According to CNN, you should always use hand sanitizer after the plane restroom, just to be safe.

Skip the freebies
Especially during cold and flu season, it's a good idea to turn down the complimentary pillow and blanket that flight attendants offer. There's no way to know if they've been properly cleaned between flights, particularly if they aren't covered in plastic. Instead, pack a soft sweater to drape over your legs or a travel pillow to rest your head on if you think you'd like to snooze while you travel.