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  • Writer's pictureVal Bastien

Vocal Health, Traveling And Germs

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Buses, trains and planes are dirtier then you can imagine. How can you avoid vocal health hazards while in transit?

Planes are a real hub for germs... Photo by Ross Parmly

Have you ever wondered about the risks of getting sick after traveling? As summer is well underway and I still have lots of traveling ahead, I'm worried about jeopardizing my vocal health. Catching a cold or the flu for instance is a serious concern for singers. Especially for those who earn a living from their craft. It turns out, planes and (I would assume by deduction) all other means of public transportation are infected with germs. Because safety, not cleaning, is the priority only a limited amount of time is allocated to tidying up rather then actually sanitizing the common shared areas for the next batch of passengers. According CBC's Marketplace the filthiest places on planes are:

5) Seat Belt: Everybody touches it; it's an obvious hot spot.

4) Tray Table: Food and dirty fingers are great pathogen carriers. Apparently, passengers have been seen changing diapers using that tray :0

3) Washroom Handle: That is too be expected. No explanation needed. Wash your hands people!

2) Seat Pocket: Good hiding place; unlikely items reportedly found included condoms and used tampons. Disgusting.

1) Head Rest: What a surprise! I'm guessing this is a particularly difficult structure to clean. With time pathogens accumulate on upholstery.

Here's how to take the matter into your own hands (germs free):

Wet Wipes

Seeing the filt accumulation after cleaning is satisfying!

Yeast, molds and e-coli were all found on airplanes. Make sure to disinfect all these items before sitting down to enjoy your trip. As a side note, I have also heard of security trays being outrageously nasty because guess what; they are hardly NEVER cleaned. Therefore, do wash hands as soon as possible after passing security. Repeat often before and after your flight.

Head Pillow

Seeing that the head rest made it first in the results above, I would encourage you to bring your own head pillow (wipe it after each use) to lean against. I love my lightweight MEC Therm-A-Rest Air Pillow. The air and open cell foam it's made of allows me to compress and roll it into a compact shape easy to put away.

Personal Air Purifier

Air quality on public transportation is always debatable. In such confined spaces such as buses, trains and planes, airborne viruses can easily make their way into our lungs. I hate when a smoker sits right next to me but I especially dread when someone coughing sits close by. It makes me extremely nervous!!! An option would be to wear one of those blue hospital masks on my face. I prefer carrying my Wein Air Purifier instead (it's a little more discreet). It sends a fresh breeze of ions to purify the air in my immediate environment. I've owned one for years and love it.

So there you go; may these tips be useful to you and help protect your immune system against harmful diseases. Happy travel and continue to sing your heart out!


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