Attending conferences and conventions is one of my favorite things to do as a writer (aside from, y’know, writing). There are so many writing and publishing and fandom events going on these days, you could go to one every weekend all year long and still be missing out on the fun somewhere else. They’re marvelous places for networking, for meeting fans, and for just enjoying being with others who are as passionate about the craft and business of writing as you.
They’re also infamous for passing around the usual “con crud” that can lay swaths of attendees out for a week or two afterwards. Not only that, but cons are huge schedule disruptions, piling the stress of travel, poor sleep, poor eating, and questionable hygiene on top of your health.
How’s one supposed to survive if you’re on the road throughout the year, attending events like this? Fortunately, it’s not terribly difficult to maintain fitness levels when traveling. You just need to do a little prep work and not go absolutely insane while away.
- Hotel Workouts – Most hotels have at least a minimal workout space these days, even if it’s just a treadmill and a few weights. Is there a pool? Get a few laps in! If no other option presents itself, you can always put in a bodyweight workout in your hotel room. Just 15-20 minutes of exercise a day can help maintain current strength and endurance.
- Hail Hydration! – Water is one of your best friends during long convention weekends. If you aren’t already, get in the habit of keeping a water bottle with you at all times. While good for a pick-me-up, try not to rely too much on coffee and soda as your drinking mainstay as the caffeine can screw with your energy levels and sleep cycles. And if you’re hitting the con parties hard, remember to slip at least 8oz of water in-between each alcoholic drink.
- Accept Your Limits – You’re never going to experience everything a convention has to offer or meet every single person there. Don’t drive yourself to exhaustion and refuse to sleep just in case you might miss out on that 3am session of Cards Against Humanity. Usually I will pick one night as my “up into the wee hours” indulgence and then follow a semi-reasonable sleeping schedule the rest of the weekend. This helps me return home without being utterly wiped as well.
- Stock Up! – One of the first things I do when getting into town for a convention is find the nearest grocery store. Then I go grab enough fruits, veggies, deli meats, and other essentials to last me most of the weekend (it especially helps if I can get a fridge for the hotel room). Not only does this help cut costs by not having to buy pricy vendor food or eat out all the time, but I can regulate when and what I eat far better. Subsisting on a diet of jellybeans and diet soda might appeal to my inner six-year-old, but adult me knows I’ll function far better with solid meals. Of course, if the con is close enough to drive, I just bring a packed cooler with me.
- Give Yourself a Boost – Conventions are one of the times where I’ll regularly take a multivitamin or have a few EmergenC packets on hand to add to my water. Even though I try to eat decently during the event and should get my usual vitamins and other nutrients through mastication alone, it doesn’t hurt to fortify myself. To speak to an earlier point, remember that exercise in itself can help your immune system fight off any encroaching or lingering illnesses. Some people even recommend upping your vitamin intake a week or two before the event so you aren’t playing catch-up.
- Have Fun! – Seriously, even if you go to conventions and conferences for networking and business, you’re also there for the fun factor. Perhaps taking a few days off your usual workout and diet is the reward you’ve promised yourself for sticking to a fitness system leading up to the event. So what if you come back with a few extra pounds? Those won’t negate the fun you had nor do they keep you from getting back on track.
What’s your plan for staying active and healthy during a convention or while traveling? Do you toss any routine aside and then shift back into it on returning home? Do you find time to maintain your routine during the weekend away? Got any other tips or tricks to share?