A couple years ago I came home from conference looking and feeling like this. And since then I've tried to take steps to come home NOT looking like this. Well, I'll be exhausted but hopefully not sick.
So how do you mingle at close quarters with 2000 other writers and stay healthy?
~ Drink lots of water. This conference is pretty much at sea level, but some years back we were at about 4500 feet, and that can make a big difference in how your body behaves. Even though we don't have altitude to worry about this year, we'll have extreme heat. Orlando in July is like a steam bath. So drink lots of water and stay hydrated. A dehydrated body is more susceptible to germs. Dehydration can also give you a headache, and a crowded meeting room is the last place you want to have your head pounding. More than likely, every meeting room will have a water station in the back. If you like, you can carry an empty water bottle through airport security and fill it up from the drinking fountain on the other side. This way you can start drinking while you're in that pressurized cabin (which also causes dehydration) and get a head start.
~ Hand sanitizer. Need I say more? You can get it at the dollar store and while I don't suggest becoming Mr. Monk-ishly obsessive with it, it can help ward off nasty germs.
~ Be careful about your alcohol consumption. Sure, that cocktail tastes good and has a cute little umbrella in it. I'm not telling you not to drink. I'm just saying that alcohol acts as a diuretic, which dehydrates you. At our RWA meeting last month, etiquette expert Laura Bingham Ritch advised drinking a glass of water between cocktails to lessen the chance of getting plastered. I'm guessing it will help re-hydrate you.
~ Be careful about your caffeine consumption too. Caffeine is also a diuretic. And it can give you a right good buzz if you consume too much. We don't want you wide-eyed and dehydrated at 3 AM.
~ Try to eat well at the conference. I know. I'm dreaming the impossible dream. But go for protein over carbs if possible. Go for complex carbs over simple carbs (i.e. an apple instead of a cookie). That cookie will give you a quick sugar rush, but an apple will stick with you longer. And some cheese or yogurt is even better if it's available. I plan to tuck a box of Kashi bars in my suitcase for the inevitable mid-afternoon slump.
~ Schedule yourself some "down" time to de-stress. When you're out and about, you're ON and you need time to flip the switch to OFF for a while. Go back to your room and lie down. Or sit with a good friend in a corner of the lobby and take a load off your feet. You won't regret it.
~ If you're going to be outdoors in Orlando, remember my previous caution about water and also slather on some sunscreen. You don't want to have to fly back home with a nasty sunburn.
~ If you take any sort of prescription medications, be sure to carry them ON THE PLANE with you so you don't end up in Orlando while your meds end up in Boise. Also take along any over-the-counter medications you might need such as pain reliever, anti-diarrhea pills, antihistamines and/or decongestant, antacid, motion sickness, cortisone cream, antibiotic ointment, et cetera. One thing NOT to pack: your perfume. Many people are allergic plus a room with fifty different perfumes wafting about can get pretty noxious.
~ Plan ahead. This eliminates a lot of worry and stress, which are known to weaken your immune system. Look over the workshop offerings before you go to Orlando and make a list of those you want to attend. Add in any other scheduled meetings or appointments. I use a chart like the one below and fill it out before I leave home. Having my schedule on one page helps a lot.
You can design something for yourself in Word or Excel and eliminate schedule confusion before you go.
So what have I missed? What's your suggestion for staying healthy during the conference?