When visiting friends and family for the holiday season, presents and good cheer are all we want to bring. But for those of us getting to our destination through the air, something else could come along and spoil the fun: germs.

Last year, a study published in the Biomed Infectious Diseases Journal said the airport surfaces with the highest virus concentrations were found in the bins at the security checkpoint where you place your shoes and other belongings.

"The germiest parts of the airport are the same as the germiest parts of the rest of the world: anything people touch," said Dr. Paul Pottinger, the Director of the University of Washington Infectious Disease and Tropical Medicine Clinic. "Things where hands come into contact with that object. It could be the little x-ray scanning box that you use to put your belongings through security. It could be the armrest of the seat in the airplane itself."

In this case, the simplest protection is usually one of the best. Pottinger says most of our immune systems are healthy and strong so many of these germs are harmless. Others could linger for longer periods of time increasing the chance of coming in contact with a contagion.

"Some of them might even be helpful," he said. "But once in a while, they can make you sick. So don't panic, don't worry. Just clean your hands."

Pottinger adds that's another good reason to stop smoking. Tobacco reduces the immune system and its ability to fight off respiratory viruses.

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