Travel for the 2012-2013 holiday season is expected to increase to 93.3 million travelers, according to the AAA 2012/2013 Year-End Holidays Travel Forecast.  Most travelers are expected to venture at least 50 miles from home this year, an increase of 1.6 percent from one year ago.

So how do you travel for the holidays and avoid getting sick amongst all those snotty kids and coughing adults? Here are four ways to stay healthy during the journey:

1.    Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: According to One Life, water accounts for 60 percent of your body (or about 92 pounds in a 155 lb person) and is essential to every cell. Drinking water promotes cardiovascular health and keep your body cool, both of which are important to avoid getting sick. While traveling, do not forget to drink water frequently and in sufficient quantities.

2.    Avoid the aisle seat: If you’re traveling via airplane, avoid the aisle seat in order to reduce the likelihood of you coming in contact with more people. By sitting in the aisle seat, you are at an increased risk to coming in contact with someone already sick – which  in turn may get you sick.

3.    Bring disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer: The air quality in planes may be of concern to passengers but it is the surfaces that we touch which most often transmit the germs that make us ill. Cold and flu viruses can survive up to 72 hours on plastic surfaces, according to Dr. Gerba a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona. In order to ensure the surfaces you use are sanitary, bring disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces you come in contact with.  Use hand sanitizer frequently especially before eating or drinking anything.

4.    Bring your own pillow: According to Kris Beck at Hilton Worldwide, a synthetic pillow lasts approximately 18 to 24 months when cared for and laundered properly, which might mean that you could be sleeping on the same pillow that you did last year when you checked into your hotel room. Furthermore, an average pillow has more than 350,000 potentially live bacteria colonies, according to a study by Valley Sleep Center. Instead, bring your own pillow to prevent getting sick from the pillow cover. To read more interesting facts about hotel pillows, click this.

Finally, by traveling you increase your chances to getting exposed to germs and infectious diseases simply by not washing your hands. An SCA study showed that 84 percent of people don’t properly wash their hands. Since 80 percent of illnesses are transferred by touch, properly washing hands is critical. This holiday season stay healthy by following the four tips while traveling as well as washing your hands.

For more hygiene tips from Donna Duberg, head over here.

About Donna Duberg

Donna Duberg, an expert in hygiene and an authority on disease prevention, is an assistant professor of clinical laboratory science at Saint Louis University. She has been lauded as a credible media source both nationally and in St. Louis, where she makes recurring appearances as the “St. Louis Germ Expert” on local FOX newscasts. Duberg believes that proper hand sanitation techniques combined with a consistent cleaning regimen can go a long way to halt the spread of germs and viruses, whether in the privacy of one’s home or in a public area.