Road to Anthrocon: Staying Healthy

Con Crud by ReallyReallyBigBang, via DeviantArt
Con Crud by ReallyReallyBigBang, via DeviantArt

“Con crud.” You’ve probably heard of it, and if you’re not careful you’re probably going to get it. People love to share hugs at conventions, but they also love to share their germs too. That door handle you’re going to touch? At  least two hundred other people probably also touched it in the past hour and any ten of them could be sick.

You need to take care of your body while you’re busy having fun. It can get very easy to skip meals, skip showers and even skip sleeping altogether. If you’re not careful, you might end up with a very bad post-con.

6 – 3 – 1

One of the best ways to avoid con crud and make sure that you keep your energy up is to take care of your body. While there’s no entirely right way for everyone, the generally accepted way to stay healthy during a convention is with what is called the 6-3-1 method. Otherwise known as six hours of sleep, three meals, and one shower a day.

Six Hours of Sleep

Try to get at least six hours or more of sleep per day of the convention. Sleep is one of the best things that you can do to keep your body healthy and energized. It also helps keep your immune system strong and makes sure that you’re alert for the next day of the convention. But if you’re like me, sleeping at a convention is hard. It only gets harder if you end up with noisy roommates, having to sleep on the floor or air mattress or just generally don’t sleep very well in hotels. It’s especially important if you will be driving back after the con– nothing ruins convention memories more than a nasty experience on the highway home.

There are a variety of things you can do to try and sleep better throughout the convention:

  • Bring your own pillows. Having something that your body is familiar with will encourage it to sleep better and sounder when you’re away from home. Plus you don’t have to deal with too soft or too hard hotel lumps pretending to be pillows.
  • Invest in earplugs and/or eye masks. If you have issues with noise or have roommates who snore, bring your own earplugs. You can buy a pack for about $5 at any drug store and if you follow the instructions correctly they should block all but the loudest of snoring. It may be a good idea to get something to cover your eyes as well, in case your roommates are late sleepers or early risers.
  • Eat sleep-encouraging foods. Certain foods contain substances that will help you sleep. Foods such as walnuts, cherries and pineapples contain the hormone melatonin, which helps the body to regulate sleep schedules and will help you to sleep earlier and deeper. You can also try almonds, which will also encourage sleep. If you want to skip all that, you can buy melatonin pills from vitamin stores.  However taking too much melatonin can mess up your sleep schedule when you go back home.

Three Meals

Some versions suggest two meals a day, but speaking from personal experience I suggest three. Going to conventions involves a lot of walking: from your hotel, to panels, to various other events, or out on the town with friends. It’s important to keep your body fueled on proper food to keep it going throughout the entire convention. Protein bars and energy drinks aren’t going to cut it. You need to eat proper meals, even if it’s just PB&J. The typical calorie intake for an adult is around 1500-2000 calories a day, so try and aim between there. Fursuiters may want to eat more since they’ll be burning through more calories.

Some conventions will offer meal guides to help get you to good and/or cheap places to eat while at the convention. If they don’t, make sure to check out restaurants ahead of time so you know what is around the convention hotel. Most hotels will also have cafes or food available to buy, but some hotels will charge a lot more than regular restaurants. When in doubt, there’s usually a Starbucks on a nearby corner.

Most conventions have a “con suite” for premium-level attendees, with snacks and at least water. Often this is cheap stuff bought in bulk, so it’s probably not the healthiest, but it will at least keep you up and running for the duration of the convention. Larger conventions may also have a public con suite as well for lower-tier attendees. Check the conbook to see what your options are.

One Shower

We all sweat, and it gets worse when we’re moving around a lot at conventions. This leads to body odor, which only gets worse when there are a lot of people around. Even if you don’t sweat a lot, it doesn’t hurt to get rid of the grime from the day and it’ll help to get rid of any germs that are on your skin. It doesn’t matter when you take it, but try and take at least one shower a day. Fursuiters may want to take two.

[Editor’s Note: If you don’t think you need a shower? Trust me, you do. People’s brains filter out their own body odor. So just because you think you’re not ripe after a day of bouncing around the con? The people around you will probably have a different opinion.]

Con Crud Prevention

Without fail, someone always goes to the convention sick. Then they spread that sickness around, becoming a patient zero to their own personal plague. While 6-3-1 can help you to stay healthy throughout the convention in general, there are more direct ways that you can avoid getting the con crud:

  • Carry hand sanitizer and use it liberally. Whenever someone shakes your hand or after you touch a lot of things that other people may have touched, slather some sanitizer on. It’ll keep your hands clean, help keep you from getting sick, and prevent you from accidentally spreading germs from other people.
  • Use your sleeve. Long sleeve shirts aren’t just warm, but they’re also useful. You can use the cuff of your sleeve to grab door knobs or other objects to keep germs off of your hands. If you need to sneeze, the best way to avoid spreading germs around is to sneeze into the elbow of your shirt.
  • Share nothing. Don’t share bottles or cups with other people. It’s a very good way to come down with something unsavory. Forks and spoons are another big one to avoid, as are vapes and e-cigarettes.
  • Take immune boosters. Things such as Airborne or Emergen-c have some limited ability to help your body fight off infections. While not clinically proven, many people swear by them. Vitamin C alone doesn’t do much to help prevent illnesses, but many of these immune boosters also contain vitamins such as zinc and B-6/12, which do help your body to fight infections. Consider beginning these a couple of days before the convention, take them during, and then continue for a few days after the convention.

Even long time convention goers can fall victim to the con crud or wear themselves out from not taking proper care of their body. Don’t get discouraged if you get it even after you do everything you can; con crud happens, and it’s one of the unfortunate certainties if you go to a lot of cons. Do you have any other health concerns? Or do you have any other health recommendations to offer? Leave them below in the comments!