I Travel Up to 150 Days of the Year—Here Are the 12 Rules That Keep Me Healthy

Updated: Mar. 07, 2024

Following a professional travel influencer's tips before your next trip will help you reach your destination with as little germ exposure as possible.

portrait of Tiffany Dowd standing outside on a balcony with a beautiful landscape in the background
Courtesy Tiffany Dowd

By Tiffany Dowd, as told to Charlotte Hilton Andersen

As a luxury hotel expert and founder and president of Luxe Social Media, traveling to exotic locales is literally my job. I absolutely love it, but it means I fly 100 to 150 days out of the year. Fun fact: I’m a 1.5 million-miler on American Airlines!

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Spending that much time on airplanes means that I’ve seen a lot of the world, and I also encounter a lot of people. Many of them, I’ve enjoyed—but it only takes one time watching someone put their bare feet up on your armrest to really think about all the germs on planes.

Over the years, I’ve perfected a routine that generally keeps me healthy, happy, and comfy no matter what’s happening on the flight around me. Here are my best healthy travel tips.

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Woman sitting on top of bed putting on compression socks on her legs
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Dress to compress

My number-one tip I wish everyone knew is to wear compression stockings! These tight-fitting, knee-high socks prevent swelling and blood pooling in your legs; reduce your risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis), a dangerous condition that afflicts some air travelers; and makes your legs feel more comfortable and less tired when you land.

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Drape a large scarf around your neck

Dress comfortably and in layers. Your outfit doesn’t have to be catwalk-chic, but it shouldn’t be pajamas either! My favorite travel outfit is a pair of black Anatomie pants (they look like slacks but feel like gym leggings!), a nice sweater or top, cute sneakers, and a pashmina scarf. The scarf is a beautiful accessory and doubles as a light blanket or pillow.

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gloved hand sanitizing a plane seat
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Sanitize your space

The first thing I do upon finding my seat is to pull out the package of sanitizing wipes I keep in my purse and wipe down all the high-touch surfaces, including the tray table and armrests.

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Young couple wearing protective face masks during flight
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Wear a mask

Masks are one of the greatest inventions for air travelers! I wear a disposable surgical mask every time I fly, even if I’m feeling perfectly healthy, because they’re great at protecting against all kinds of airborne viruses, including Covid-19, the flu, RSV, and colds.

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Trade the alcohol for agua

Thanks to the cold, dry air and altitude, flying is inherently dehydrating. Drinking alcohol on the plane will only make you feel worse overall so save the drinks for before or after your flight. Instead, make sure you’re staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

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Mix a vitamin packet into your water

I always keep packets of Emergen-C, Airborne, or a similar drink mix in my carry on bag. These are high in vitamin C and zinc, two vitamins shown to boost the immune system. I just pour a packet straight into my water bottle.

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Lunchbox with quinoa salad with tomato and cucumber, blue berry and trail mix
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Eat a healthy meal before your flight

Here’s a little-known fact about air travel: your sense of taste diminishes as you go higher in altitude. To compensate, airlines oversalt all of their foods to give them more flavor—just one reason I avoid eating plane food if I can. Instead, I make sure to eat a healthy, filling meal right before boarding.

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Pack protein bars

I also keep protein bars, dried fruit, and other healthy snacks in my bag in case I get the munchies on the flight. This helps me avoid the unhealthy (and expensive) junk food that’s served on many flights.

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Man listening to music while flying on an airplane wearing a facemask
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Bring noise-canceling headphones

I’m not a huge fan of headphones in general, and normal plane noises usually don’t bother me…but if you’re sensitive to noise or struggle with flying anxiety, I recommend bringing noise-canceling headphones or earbuds. You can play soothing music or white noise or listen to an audiobook.

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People traveling by air and sleeping on the plane
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Pack a silk eye mask

Getting good sleep when you travel is one of the best things you can do for your health—and also one of the trickiest to do. I always bring my silk eye mask while I sleep or take a quick nap. Not only does it block out light, but it signals to others that I don’t want to be disturbed.

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Keep everything moisturized

To combat dry plane air, I keep handy a pouch of travel-sized moisturizing products—rewetting eye drops, a moisturizing face cream, hand lotion, and lip balm. This isn’t just for comfort; in fact, dry skin and lips can have small cracks that are more likely to let in germs.

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Female running on a sandy beach.
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Exercise immediately after landing

Upon arriving, my instinct is to dive into the nearest comfy bed. Over the years, though, I’ve learned that I stay healthier if I try to stick to the new time zone.

One of my favorite ways to do this is to exercise after deplaning. A brisk walk, a few yoga poses, or a quick trip to the hotel gym is energizing and motivating!

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