Avoiding the Travel Bug Nobody Wants

Travelers love to bring home lasting memories of their trips, but the flu isn't one of them. Getting sick far away from the comforts of home can ruin an entire vacation or business trip. Since travel often requires close contact with a large number of people, commuters are more susceptible to germs and flu than ever before.

"Confined to smaller spaces, breathing recycled air, and touching more common surfaces, travelers have increased risk of infection," said Dr. Robert Schiller, chairman of family medicine at BethIsraelMedicalCenter in New York City. "The proximity of passengers and high occupancy in airplanes, buses, trains and even cruise ships increases the chance of coming into contact with someone with flu. The anxiety of traveling, lack of exercise and sleep, and limited food choices associated with travel can take a toll on your health."

Since flu is often transmitted hand-to-hand, travelers should wash their hands often and avoid rubbing their eyes or nose. Schiller also advises travelers to avoid putting their faces directly on airline-supplied pillows or blankets that haven't been cleaned. Another general rule for air passengers is to drink at least four to eight ounces of water for every hour of flight time, which keeps the body hydrated and lessens the chance of catching a virus.