Fodor’s Travel

How to Sanitize Your Space and Avoid Germs While Flying

By Kristy Alpert

Here’s how to stay safe and clean while traveling.

Even when there’s not a Coronavirus lurking around, airplanes and airports can be like Petri dishes with some gnarly germs and grime. Only traveling while you’re healthy is the best way to help keep travel safe for everyone (c’mon people, stay home if you’re sick!), but sleepless nights and stress from travel can actually reduce the body’s ability to fight off antigens and leave you vulnerable. The CDC recommends being an alert traveler by avoiding contact with the sick, keeping your hands off your face, covering your coughs and sneezes, staying home when you’re sick (ahem, again we say, “c’mon people!”), disinfecting personal spaces, and washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds. Although the following items won’t guarantee you won’t come into contact with germs on your next flight, they can definitely help sanitize your space and reduce your risk of catching anything midair.

Sharper Image Travel UV Sanitizing Wand 

The ultraviolet-C light that this wand emits actually deactivates the DNA of bacteria and viruses, eliminating their ability to multiply or cause infection. The germicidal light kills up to 99.9 percent of bacteria, including E. coli, and takes just 10-20 seconds to work. Wand it over your seat before buckling in, swipe it over the TSA bins at security, or even put it to work in your hotel room once you arrive to make sure your surfaces are safe to touch.

PlaneAire Purifying Travel Mist 

This tiny two-ounce purifying mist delivers a powerful punch to your airplane seat, killing 99.99 percent of all bacteria tested within two minutes of a single spray. PlaneAire is an organic blend of peppermint, lemon, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and lavender oils, and its herbal scent dissipates quickly after being sprayed. Just a few sprays eliminates the harmful bacteria in your space for hours.

PhoneSoap Go 

A recent study found that airport TSA trays carry more germs than toilet seats or staircase rails, where the rhinovirus (the cause for the common cold) was the most prevalent virus found. Emptying your pockets puts your cellphone in direct contact with germs and bacteria… and don’t even get us started on stashing your phone in the seatback pocket. PhoneSoap Gois a safe way to sanitize your phone while traveling, and, bonus points, it also charges your device while sterilizing it. This rechargeable device offers up four full phone charges or 45 sanitizing cycles on a single battery, killing up to 99.99 percent of germs with its built-in UV-C light.04_HowtoSanitizewhileFlyin__SeatSitters_4.) seat_cover_2048x

Seat Sitters 

Use this handy seat cover to block your body from grimy, germ-ridden seats on trains, planes, or even movie theaters. The cover comes in a convenient carrying case that includes a face mask, an adhesive tray table cover, and two sanitary wipes that would make Howard Hughes comfortable flying commercially. The Seat Sitters cover is machine washable and even comes in a kid’s version with crayons.05_HowtoSanitizewhileFlyin__AirplanePockets_5.) edit2APP 3 chairs touched up

Airplane Pockets 

Airplane trays continually rank as the dirtiest place on the airplane (some containing up to 2,155 colony-forming units per square inch), so this handy expandable tray cover and storage unit from Airplane Pockets is crucial to keeping your space sanitized. The stretchable cover slips over the airplane tray, with a drop-down pocket to replace the airline’s backseat pocket with 4 expandable pockets (plenty of room for storing your laptop, phone, water bottle, etc.). When the food cart comes around, the tray cover doubles as a placemat.06_HowtoSanitizewhileFlyin__GeniusPackFlightBag_6.) High Altitude Flight Bag - 3

Genius Pack High Altitude Flight Bag 

This clever carryon attaches to the seatback in front of you without affecting the person in the row ahead, giving you clean and sanitized access to all your flight needs. The High Altitude Flight Bag replaces the need to store anything in the seatback with compartments for iPads, up to six magazines, headphones, passports and even a charger to juice your smartphone in flight. It’s water-resistant and can attach to a roll-aboard bag for easy transportation between flights.07_HowtoSanitizewhileFlyin__FlightSpray_7.) 71jj3BSp9NL._SL1500_

Flight Spray 

The dry air on an airplane doesn’t just leave your skin dry, it also dries out your mucus membranes in your nose and reduces the body’s resistance to infection. Moisture is key to fighting off germs, which is what inspired Hawaiian company Bioponic Phytoceuticals to create Flight Spray. The spray alleviates nasal dryness with its turmeric root and spearmint formula to enhance the body’s ability to fight off germs that cause the common cold, the flu, and other viruses.08_HowtoSanitizewhileFlyin__WetonnesTravelPack_8.) editWO_Context_TP_CarryOn

Wet Ones Travel Packs 

One single hand wipe from Wet Ones contains enough antibacterial action to kill off 99.99 percent of germs. Wet Ones are just as effective as gel sanitizers, but these won’t slow you down at security, and they do double duty for wiping away grime and “let’s-hope-that’s-a-coffee-stain” messes from passengers before you. The travel packs come in three varieties (fresh scent, tropical splash, and unscented) and have a wet lock seal so you can keep the wipes fresh between uses.09_HowtoSanitizewhileFlyin__Facemasks_9.) shutterstock_1391034125


The CDC does not recommend facemasks to help protect against the spread of disease. They do, however, recommend people already showing symptoms of an illness wear one to help prevent the spread (or better yet, stay home if you’re sick… c’mon people!). However, if a facemask makes you feel more comfortable while traveling, make sure to get one that has a snug fit and a rating of N95 or higher (the number in the rating represents the percentage of particulates the mask can block; i.e., N95 blocks 95 percent of particulates, N99 blocks 99 percent, and so on).10_HowtoSanitizewhileFlyin__AesopDeparturekit_Large JPEG-Aesop Travel Campaign PR Image Arrival & Departure

Aesop Departure Kit 

Bringing your own airline amenity kit not only makes traveling in economy more bearable, but it also stocks you up with seven of Aesop’s top travel products, including the Resurrection Rinse-Free Hand Wash. Unlike other hand-sanitizers, this one doesn’t dry your hands out and has a clean scent with notes of rosemary and cedar. The kit also comes with a hand moisturizer, toothpaste, a hydrating masque, a lip cream, mouthwash, and a rose-petal infused mist to hydrate your skin mid-flight. If a basic hand sanitizer is what you’re after, it’s entirely possible to make a bare-bones version at home by mixing up 6 tablespoons of aloe vera gel and 20 drops of lavender essential oil with 4 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol.11_HowtoSanitizewhileFlyin__TravelBlanket_11.) Grey Blanket 5 (1)

Travelrest 4-1 Travel Blanket 

If only airlines would make their inflight blankets like this micro-fleece poncho-style travel blanket from Travelrest… although, part of the blanket’s allure is that users know the last time it was washed. Avoid germy, used blankets on the plane by packing this portable blanket along for your next flight. It folds into its own carrying case and doubles as a poncho, which means less contact between your body and the seat.12_HowtoSanitizewhileFlyin__HANSSwipe_12.) h5 copy

HÄNS Swipe 

Although this deodorant-stick-sized cleaner is designed to sanitize your personal electronic devices (i.e., tablets, smartphones, e-readers, etc.), it can be a health saver when coming in contact with the shared touchscreens at the airport and on the airplane. A study from found that airport check-in kiosks have more than 1,475 times the bacteria found on your home toilet seat. Give the kiosk screen a swipe with your HÄNS Swipe before checking in, and, if your plane still has a seatback screen, it couldn’t hurt to give that surface a swipe as well.