Reduce your risk of getting a cold or flu on your next flight with these six simple tips.

Excited for the trip, but a bit paranoid about picking up a bug on your flight? You’re not alone. Many of us have caught a nasty cold or even a full-blown case of the flu after flying, particularly after a long-haul flight.

And there’s some research to back up the health risks of flying. A Canadian study published in the Journal of Environmental Health Research (2004) looked at passenger health reports after they made a five-hour flight between San Francisco and Denver. The findings? Passengers were 113 times more likely to have caught a cold during the flight than during normal daily life.

Not surprisingly, researchers say the likely culprits are close quarters, shared air and low cabin humidity. As with all crowded areas, the airport and the cabin of an aircraft can be a breeding ground for germs. Depending on the type of surface, viruses can survive for hours — and the surfaces at airports may be particularly risky because they can host viruses from all over the world, including many that locals do not have antibodies for.

So what can be done? Click through for 6 tips to beat travel bugs and stay healthy on your next trip.

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Cynthia Ross Cravit