After taking dozens of flights over the last year, I've learned to always carry Aquaphor or Vaseline to fix my biggest flying discomfort

After taking dozens of flights over the last year, I've learned to always carry Aquaphor or Vaseline to fix my biggest flying discomfort

Best_Business_Class_Flight_Emirates_Airbus_A380 (163 of 198)

Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Aquaphor: this frequent flyer's best friend.

  • A year ago, I left New York to travel around the world as Business Insider's international correspondent. Over that time, I've visited over 20 countries, taken dozens of flights, and stayed in nearly 100 hotels.
  • Planes are notoriously dry places with humidity lower than the Sahara Desert. I am very sensitive to dry plane air, which often causes me to have dry nasal passages and can even trigger migraines.
  • To mitigate the dry air, I line my nostrils with petroleum jelly. Since I started using it, I've noticed a drop-off in dryness and migraines and even in how often I get sick on planes.
  • But beware thinking petroleum jelly is a cure-all for getting sick on planes: Most germs are found on the surfaces and using petroleum jelly in your nose too often can have negative effects.

Planes are notoriously dry places. According to the World Health Organization, humidity in an airplane cabin is around 20%, or lower than the humidity of the Sahara Desert.

While that dryness affects everyone differently, I find that within an hour of being on a flight, I start to feel dryness in my nose, mouth, and eyes. On long flights, the dryness has often triggered a migraine.

Over the course of my one year traveling around the world as Business Insider's international correspondent, I've had to develop a system to overcome the dryness. After all, I take long-haul flights once a week or more.

The best solution I've come up with so far is to carry Aquaphor, Vaseline, or some other form of petroleum jelly and slather it on the inside of my nostrils.


Ever since I started using petroleum jelly on flights, I've noticed a drop-off in the migraines, headaches, and general dryness I experience on flights. I've also avoided getting sick, though I can't say with confidence how integral the Vaseline was to that.

Air travel blogger and pilot Patrick Smith has written about how dry plane air can "break down mucous barriers, making it easier to catch what bugs might be present." Vaseline helps against that, but it does nothing for the germs you might find in the bathroom or on your tray table.

Some people swear by the use of antibacterial ointment Neosporin as protection against getting sick on an airplane, a claim debunked by Harvard medical expert John Sharp. Sharp noted that whatever germs the Neosporin catches are minimal.

One final warning: Beware using this solution for everyday dryness. As the Mayo Clinic's Dr. Lawrence Gibson wrote in 2016, using petroleum jelly on the inside of your nose too often could lead to a lung inflammation known as lipoid pneumonia.

All that said, it's been an invaluable solution for one of my chief discomforts during flying.