DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor. I’m just a guy writing a cosplay blog. But these tips have helped me stay healthy during a convention and avoid the con plague and I believe it can help you as well. However, definitely see a doctor if you’re not feeling well.
Funny enough, a few weeks ago I got horribly sick and remember what it’s like to get the con plague. I followed the steps in this post that I normally would for a con plague, and I got better fairly quickly!
Con plague is part of the Otaku life while attending conventions. Whether it’s a small cold or a bad flu, many cosplayers seem to get con plague after the con is over. However, it’s totally preventable and manageable. For me, I rarely get sick after a convention and you can avoid the con plague as well.
Here are 4 things you can do during the convention to avoid con plague:
1. Stay hydrated to help your body fight off viruses, including con plague!
Of all the ways to avoid con plague, I would say this is most important of all. It’s hard for your body to fight off viruses if you don’t drink enough water. When you’re walking around the convention, you’re going to get thirsty! This is especially true if the convention is partially outdoors or it’s hot outside. So not only do you need water by default, you’ll need much more from all the walking you’re doing at the convention. Without water, you’re leaving your body more vulnerable to getting sick.
My advice is to bring a reusable bottle of water and carry it with you around the convention. This way, you will stay hydrated throughout the convention, no matter where you are. For example, bottled water is very useful when you’re doing a photoshoot or inside a panel/activity, where water is not immediately accessible.
If you’re not cosplaying, you can carry the water bottle in your backpack or pocket if it’s small enough. If you are cosplaying however, what I normally do is carry around a handbag with me. This handbag contains with all the essentials in it, including the program guide, my weekend pass, my 3DS and of course my water bottle.
If you don’t want to carry a water bottle, then be sure to hydrate often at the water stations throughout the convention centre and hotel. At an indoor convention, you can get away with drinking less water. But if it’s outdoors or it’s hot outside, you absolutely need to hydrate!
One last thing about this. Make sure you’re drinking WATER; pop is NOT a substitute for water! If anything, pop or soda dehydrates you even more. It’s okay to have a can of soda but you better be drinking water with it. Sports drinks and juices are okay but they’re not as effective as plain old water for quenching your thirst. If I didn’t make my point clear, water is essential to all life and definitely essential during your convention weekend.
Fortunately, free water is easily available at the convention. So be sure to stay hydrated throughout the convention.
2. Sleep well.
I know you’ll probably end up losing sleep during a convention weekend; you want to see everything at the con during the day on top of partying and drinking all night! But at the same time, it’s important to get enough sleep so your body can rest and heal itself for the next day. And more importantly, so you’ll have enough energy to enjoy the convention when you wake up.
The 6-2-1 rule states that you should get at least 6 hours of sleep, 2 meals and 1 shower – all in one day. 6 hours of sleep is the bare minimum you should get but I’d aim for 7-8 hours if you can. Because not only is it hard to enjoy a convention when you’re sleepy and tired, you’re more susceptible to getting the con plague. When you’re sleep-deprived and exhausting your body walking around in a costume all day, you’re leaving your body vulnerable to getting sick.
How to keep a good sleep schedule during a con
One tip I recommend is deciding if you want to stay up late on Friday/Saturday night of the convention, or sleep in early to attend the early morning programming the next day. Don’t try to rave and drink all night and wake up at 9 AM to be at the convention right at 10 AM. For me, I stay up pretty late during the con because I’m a night owl naturally. So on the Saturday, I usually sleep in and skip the panels and activities happening in the morning in order to get some good sleep. Because I’ll be up all Saturday night!
The only excuse I find tolerable is if you’re staff and have to be up at all hours of the day to help out. Other than that, there’s no need to deprive yourself of sleep. You don’t need to volunteer that many hours to get a free badge or hotel. You probably won’t enjoy attending a panel at 9:00 AM and be raving the same night until 4:00 AM.
3. Practice good hygiene to avoid catching con plague.
When you’re at a large convention with over 20,000+ attendees, you’re bound to run into attendees who have…questionable hygiene. There’s a thing called “con funk,” where some of them smell pretty bad! While you can’t control what others do, you can definitely control your own hygiene. By keeping yourself clean, you will have less of a chance catching the con plague.
A couple of things:
- Wash your hands: At a con, everybody is touching things like door handles and props. It’s important to wash your hands, especially before you eat. Get rid of all those germs.
- Shower at least once a day: You’re likely to get sweaty and smelly while around a convention all day long. Do yourself a favour by taking a shower at the end of the day! Not only will you be doing everyone else a favour by not smelling, you’ll feel much cleaner as well.
4. Eat at least 2 complete meals a day (NOTE: snacks don’t count!)
When it comes to healthy meal planning, we tend to throw it out the window during an Anime convention (myself included). However, it’s important to be mindful of how much you’re eating. Although eating unhealthy won’t significantly affect your chances of catching con plague, eating too little is a different story. In other words, you don’t want your diet to be so bad that your body does not have the energy to fight off viruses.
I know quite a few cosplayers who either starve themselves or forget to eat. Or they go on a diet of only Pocky, chips and Ramen for an entire weekend. NO! You are asking to get sick if you don’t eat properly. Here’s how to fix that:
If your hotel has a kitchen, buying groceries and cooking your own food is a great option. Or you can bring a cooler with your own food to bring at a convention, or throw it in the fridge.
What are healthy food options during a convention?
Many conventions take place in the downtown of a city, so there’s lots of food options. I like going to chain restaurants because their prices generally stay the same. And either I’ll go for a healthier option such as buying a salad there, or I’ll let myself indulge and eat something greasy. But either way, it’s a complete meal. I personally like Subway and Chipotle (although the latter is a bit more expensive). There’s a good amount of protein, carbs, fat and veggies. And I feel full after eating a sandwich or burrito, so it’s a complete meal to me. It’s not the healthiest way to eat (i.e. too much sodium), but it’s a lot better than living off snacks and instant noodles for the entire weekend.
Although it will be more expensive to eat healthier or buy food at a restaurant, think about how much money you will lose getting the con plague when you have to pay for medicine or being too sick to work the next day.
Remember to budget money for food during a convention. As I mention in my budgeting post, I like to spend a good amount of money on eating well during a con. I am on vacation after all, so why not splurge on some good food while I’m there? If you want to learn more about budgeting for food, check out this post.
I know it’s difficult to eat healthy during a convention. We won’t go into too much detail in terms of healthy eating or dietary options, because that’s out of my expertise. But you should eat 2 complete meals a day that hit the macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat).
Here are the 4 main points to avoid con plague:
- Stay hydrated to help your body fight off viruses, including con plague!
- Sleep well.
- Practice good hygiene to avoid catching con plague.
- Eat at least 2 complete meals a day (NOTE: snacks don’t count!)
Sometimes getting sick is unavoidable but these doing these 4 things will help prevent you catching it. As I’m writing this, I just came back from an Anime convention and I have a minor sore throat. But I’m sure it could have been much worse. How? Because I drank an enormous amount of water, I slept like a Snorlax all of Saturday morning, I kept myself clean and I ate well during the convention. All perfect solutions to help you avoid con plague?
Have any of you guys ever caught it? Let me know in the comments below!