How to Survive a Convention – Taking Care of Yourself

So you’ve decided to go to a convention. Congratulations! This is the third in a three part series of advice on how to have fun and survive. 🙂 Seriously, ask anyone who has attended a convention, “survive” is the correct term. But don’t let that scare you. That’s what these posts are for!

5/2/1 Rule
This is one of the most common rules when it comes to conventions. It is a simple way to remember the minimums you need to maintain throughout the con.
Five hours of sleep.
Two meals.
One shower.
This is a daily thing people! Remembering these minimums will help you get through the con and avoid con crud. Don’t skimp!

Rest
This one’s pretty self-explainatory. Make sure you get at least five hours of sleep. Also, naps are your friend. Listen to your body. If you are tired, sleep! Too many people rely on energy drinks and wear themselves out. Red Bull is no substitute for sleep.

Hygeine
Again, pretty self-explanatory. You don’t want to get or spread con crud or smell funky. And remember, one is just a minimum per day. If you’re feeling like you need a shower, go take one!

Food
This is where the advice will flow! 🙂

There are so many ways to make sure you have enough to eat at a convention. The simplest way is to know where the restaurants are. But that isn’t the best way. For your waistline or your wallet. The best option for both is bring as much as you can.

Wait. That didn’t come out right. Let me try again.

Knowing where the restaurants are is a good thing. You’re going to want to get some hot food at least once a day. When I’m at Ohayocon or Marcon, I usually go to Subway. It’s inexpensive and healthy and I can get hot or cold food. It’s great. When I’m at DragonCon, I head over to the food court at the Peachtree Center at least once a day. It pays to check out any food court in the vacinity of the convention. It was a couple of years before I discovered the most amazing place in the food court: Cafe Momo. It is a by-the-pound buffet of a wide range of delicious hot and cold foods. It’s a great place to go to supplement what you bring with you.

Bringing food with you is definitely the best option, for both your wallet and your waistline. Shelf-stable food is the best option universally. Bringing shelf-stable food with you will not only reduce the amount of food you have, but it will give you food that you can have with you out at the convention. It doesn’t matter if you’re staying in a hotel nearby or are coming in from home every day. Shelf-stable food is great for everyone and you have a wide range of foods to choose from. There’s granola, snack bars, jerky, veggie chips, dehydrated fruit, nuts, chips, bread and peanut butter, the list goes on. If you’re up for it, there’s quite a lot that you can make, which reduces your cost even further!

The next best option for bringing food is a cooler or mini-fridge. If your room has a mini-fridge, great! It’ll supplement your cooler nicely, unless you’re the only one in the room. If that’s the case, you don’t necessarily need a cooler. Anyway. Back to the point. Veggies and dips are a great thing to bring with you. They can really add to your diet over the course of the convention. It also means your nut butter sandwiches can become pb&j sandwiches! PB&J can be a lifesaver if you only have a few minutes to grab some food.

Personally, I try to pack as much healthy food as possible. Jerky is one staple. Just one bag can last the whole convention. Sometimes it’s beef, sometimes it’s turkey. I’m hoping to try out salmon next year (when I can afford it). As much as I love going meatless, sometimes I just need some meat. I’m going to get some almonds for this year as well. It’s never a bad thing to have multiple sources of protein. Last year I took homemade kale chips and I think I might try them again this year. They were great. They really hit the spot when I was needing veggies. This year I’m going to supplement them with fresh veggies. I’ve got a bunch of homemade hummus just waiting to be gobbled up with carrots and broccoli and peppers. I also have two bags of Snapeas (one lightly salted, one caesar). Those things are addictive, yet healthy, and portable!

I almost forgot one very important thing: water! Try to always have water with you. Take a refillable bottle that you can keep handy. Most conventions have cold water constantly available for people. Usually there are plastic cups near it, but if you refill your bottle, you can have it on you all the time. It’s hard to be in line for an hour and not have anything to drink. Also, you really don’t want to dehydrate yourself. That just leads to feeling horrible.

So, to sum things up quick:
5/2/1 Rule
-5 Hours of sleep. Energy drinks are not a replacement.
-2 Meals a day. Bring food to reduce costs and have snacks on hand.
-1 Shower a day. Trust me, you’ll feel better for it.
Don’t forget: these are minimums to best get throught the convention. More as needed is not a bad thing.
And don’t forget the water!

Up next: Bonus! The con bag.

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