Do you typically feel exhausted or even sick after coming back from a gaming convention (twitchcon, pax, E3, blizzcon, etc.) tournament (FGC Tournaments, Locals, Majors for various game titles, etc.)? If so you are in the right place. 1HP has created this step-by-step guide for you to stay healthy whenever you travel or participate in a tournament or convention setting.
This guide will be split into the following sections:
- Preparation for the Event
- Day-Time Prevention
- Night-Time Prevention
We are fortunate enough that Caitlin has already written a great article referencing the 4 major considerations you need to take for convention & tournament health along with what to do when you are already sick. This guide will include all of the concepts she introduces and some more in-depth thoughts to help keep you healthy so you can meet your friends, enjoy the after-parties and play at your best at these events!
Let’s start with the first step you should take: Preparation
Healthy Preparation for a Gaming Convention or Tournament
Hello everyone, Cait here! We often underestimate the power of preparation for events requiring travel. For a gaming convention such as Twitchcon or an esports tournament involving frequent interaction with other gamers taking some time to prepare can set you up for success (or at least help you avoid abject failure in the form of getting sick). We’ll go over some packing tips, what to plan for in advance, how to prep your immune system, and how to travel as healthily as possible.
Packing Healthy for a Gaming Convention & Tournament
1HP RX: Besides business cards, cute outfits, and noise-cancelling headphones, there are a few other essentials.
- Reusable water bottle (just leave it empty until you’ve gone through TSA!)
- Electrolyte tablets: preventing dehydration and headaches isn’t just about having enough water, it’s also about having a good balance of electrolytes. Electrolyte tablets like Nuun give you electrolytes without lots of added sugar, and they taste pretty darn good. For other drink ideas, check out Elliot’s hydration tier list here
- Hand sanitizer: this one should be fairly obvious
- Melatonin: if you find that travel disrupts your sleep, melatonin can potentially help. Melatonin is a chemical naturally produced by the brain leading up to and during sleep. In the words of Ina Garten, “if you can’t make your own, storebought is fine”–and that goes for brain chemicals too. If your brain needs a little extra help shutting down at night, melatonin may be a good option for you. (Check with your doctor before taking any medications or supplements)
- SNACKS: Maybe you’re like me and you get a little hangry. Maybe you’ve been to a convention or two before and know that the food is always overpriced and usually overfried. One of the easiest ways to make sure you’ve got healthy options is to bring your own, either packed ahead of time or purchased at a nearby grocery store once you’ve arrived. You want things that are easy to pack that don’t require refrigeration–apples, oranges, nuts/seeds, jerky, granola bars, pretzels, etc.
- Medications/supplements: if you’re going to be partying (and let’s be honest, how many of us don’t party at conventions?), you may want to make some space for aspirin. And while Emergen-C may not magically boost your immune system beyond its normal capacity, it does provide some antioxidant and electrolyte benefits.
Healthy Traveling for Gaming Tournament and Conventions
1HP RX: There are three key things to keep in mind when traveling: keep hydrated, keep moving, and keep relaxed.
You can break out your snacks and electrolyte tablets before you even get to the event. Eating can also be a way for you to adjust your internal clock, which is helpful if you’re switching time zones. Keep your blood sugar levels consistent to prevent fatigue before you even arrive, and consider a larger meal around whatever your new lunch or dinnertime will be.
Any chance you get to stand up and walk is a good chance! If you’re on a turbulent flight or in a window seat, that isn’t as easy. Try smaller things like marches, calf raises, glute sets, slouch/extension movements, and neck and shoulder rolls. Movement also helps with fatigue, prevent stiffness and soreness, and decreases your risk of deep vein thromboses, or blood clots. Once you land and get settled, give your tight muscles a break with some nice stretches, like these
Note: if you experience calf pain that you can put your finger on after traveling, especially if it’s a deep and achy pain, if there’s any redness or swelling, or if the pain doesn’t improve/resolve with stretching, these are potential indicators of a blood clot and you should seek medical attention immediately.
Last but not least, stay relaxed! Bring your favorite book, Switch game, or Netflix series. Take some time for deep breathing. Your immune function is suppressed by cortisol, the stress hormone, and anything you can do to alleviate that stress decreases your chances of getting LAN flu.
Scheduling Ahead of Time
If you’re going to a con for business, not just pleasure, you’ll probably have some meetings. Make sure not to over-schedule yourself!
Whether you’re going for fun or for work, scheduling ahead is key. Having a general sense of when and where you want to eat, what presentations you want to attend, and what your travel times to and from your hotel or AirBnB are easy ways to decrease stress. While you might not have time for your full, regular exercise routine, setting aside time for at least a modified version (I recommend mornings, as that’s when the least is going on for most conventions) can help bolster your immune system, improve your energy levels, and keep you on track for your health and fitness goals.
And while there’s just about no way you’ll be able to stick to your regular sleep schedule, planning for 7-8 hours of lights-out, phone-down, time in bed means you’ll be getting 6-7.5 hours of sleep–enough to keep your brain and immune system happy.
So now that you’re here at the event, it’s time to keep the healthy habits rolling. Check out Elliot’s tips for day-of prevention!
Day-Time Prevention at a Gaming Convention or Tournament
Elliot here! The second step we consider are the healthy habits while you are present at a tournament. So now it’s finally time for the event! What can you do to keep yourself from coming home with the con-crud? Here are a list of options!
Better Food Options at a Gaming Tournaments
When choosing healthy foods at a convention oftentimes your options are limited to fast food. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/ Has the best graphical description of how you should be eating at the con (and everyday) so you can stay healthy and avoid the plague. When your options are fast food and more fast food, most places have salads on the menu. Consider replacing that bacon loaded, extra cheesy, mega-fries with a nice green salad. (A lot of places have grilled chicken now too!)
Constipation at Gaming Conventions?
One major thing to take into consideration (that most people don’t think about until it’s been about 3 days since they’ve had a code brown) is how travelling can lead to constipation for a couple reasons.
Dehydration, drinking more alcohol than usual, changes in diet – especially not getting enough fiber from fruits and vegetables (exactly what’s missing from fast food), and even “bathroom anxiety” can cause a disruption in your regular bathroom schedule that can result in you being all backed up and feeling like actual poop for the entire con.
1HP RX: So our suggestions on staying regular include
- Making sure you follow the 1HP Hydration Guidelines
- Watch your alcohol intake
- Try to eat as many vegetables as possible (Think panda express or pita pit for some of your fast food choices)
- Bring some prunes or other dried fruit to snack on.
- Scouting out a nice secluded bathroom if you have any anxiety associated with that sort of thing.
Minimize Exposure at Gaming Conventions & Tournaments
Unless you want to get roasted on Twitter, the last thing you want to do at a tournament is pull a Salem.
So sportsman like hand contact is a must after a match or when greeting your buddies. But when you shake someone’s hand you are sharing more than just GGs. You both now have collected the microbes from everything you both touched since you last washed your hands. Spoiler alert: this is the quickest way to spend the rest of the con puking on the floor of the hotel bathroom.
1HP RX: One easy way to avoid the moisty palms of somebody, who has probably taken their controller into the bathroom at some point, is to go with time honored fist bump. Not only will your opponent thank you for your sportsmanship…Your organs probably will too!
Keeping yourself Sanitized at a Gaming Convention
So inevitably your hand will get covered with more microbs than the fortnite competitive reddit has “FOV Slider” posts. The best way to deal with this problem is to wash your hands early and often. If you don’t have soap and water readily available to you hand sanitizer can be your best friend.
1HP RX: Wash your hands often and investing in a bottle of hand sanitizer that clips to your bag or belt loop can really come in clutch.
Believe it or not, nasal spray actually helps you stay healthy by increasing the moisture in your nasal passages allowing your natural microb defenses to do their job better and keep you healthy!
1HP RX: Nasal spray is another way you can stay healthay all day.
Exercise to prevent illness at Gaming Conventions
Yes exercise. You may not think exercise has anything to do with getting sick but studies have shown that daily exercise actually can help reduce your chances of getting sick during cold and flu season! Exercise is the one activity that helps boost almost every major system of your body and your immune system gets a big boot from daily exercise.
1HP RX: You don’t even have to work out long, 15-30 minutes a day is really all it takes to get these positive benefits. Going for a short jog or swim today may very well help keep you from coming down with the dreaded #concrud
Stay Hydrated at Gaming Tournaments & Conventions
Bring a water bottle and use it! I have made a lovely tier list outlining EXACTLY what you should be drinking during a con and rules for making decisions on what to drink next.
The TL:DR version is that your body needs water with minerals (electrolytes) in it to make up for poor drink choices that have loads of sugar, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, or alcohol.
1HP RX: Drink water and bring a water bottle to make it more convenient for yourself
Preparation ✅ Healthy Daytime Habits ✅ . Now for nighttime habits and recovery. Check out these sections by Matt and Jake in part 2 of this guide.