If you’re worried about contracting the H1N1 flu while on holiday this Christmas, leave the surgical masks at home and bring your hand sanitizer.

Dr. Suni Boraston, director of the Travel Clinic with Vancouver Coastal Health, said you’re no more likely to catch an illness on a plane than you are at work, school, gym or the bar — and masks won’t protect you.

Hand-washing is still the best line of defence.

“The recycled air (on a plane) is doing its job and you’d have to be in very close contact with a sick person to contract the illness,” she said.

“Wearing masks only works for people who have a respiratory-born disease, like the influenza,” she said. “That will stop the spread of respiratory particle to other people. But if you’re not sick … it’s not going to do much good.”

Boraston said the best precaution is to get the H1N1 vaccine, which should be available to all British Columbians before the holiday travel season.

“You don’t want to be getting on a plane or getting to another country when you have this disease,” she said. “It’s certainly going to ruin your holiday to be in bed with influenza.

“Certainly there’s no reason to cancel this trip because of the influenza outbreak.”

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