While there are benefits to having people from all over the world gather in a small town in Wisconsin for the love of gaming, there can be a few drawbacks. It's great meeting new people, but I prefer my cultural exchanges to not be of the bacterial variety.
Despite my history of respiratory problems, I have been able to dodge the 'con flu' every time I have gone to GaryCon. This is not a case of luck or superior resistance to illness. It's all a matter of preparation. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure you get through your convention experience without spending the next week sick.
Your skin is your bodies first line of defense against infection. But if you touch something (or someone) that has germs on it, and then touch a more vulnerable area, such as your eyes or mouth, you will get sick. Get in the habit of washing your hands after every game, meal, and trip to the bathroom. And make sure to shower daily, the rest of the convention will thank yo for it.
Con food tends to run towards the junk food end of the dietary spectrum. I'm sure that for some people having nothing but donuts for breakfast and fried cheese for lunch and dinner sounds perfect. But the truth is, you need to get your daily supply of vitamins to help fight off infection. Hit the store in town for a veggie plate to snack on at the least. I carry a bottle of Vitamin B & C tablets as well to keep the immune system running.
Water. Not pop. Not energy shots. Not coffee. Not alcohol. Water should be your primary drink throughout the day. Not to say you can't have a rum and cola after hours. But keeping yourself replenished with fluids is a must for keeping your body running smoothly and avoiding getting sick.
Even though most people go to gaming conventions for vacations, that doesn't mean people automatically relax once they get there. The pressure to get a bit of everything can raise the stress levels of any person, which in turn can lower your immune systems ability to ward off infection. Just remember, it's okay if you don't get to do everything at the con. Just do what you can and leave yourself some down time in between events to relax. And if there is something that you do miss, just remember to make it a priority the next year. You're there to have fun, and stressing out and getting sick afterwards is not my definition of fun.
I'll be 39 by the time GaryCon V comes around, and my days of all-nighters are long over. You may still be young and full of energy, but it's still a good idea to get 6-8 hours of sleep every night to keep your body working right.
In the end, use some common sense. If you're feeling run down or under the weather, take a break and get some fluids in you. And remember that as much as you are trying to avoid getting sick from others, they are trying to avoid getting sick from you as well. Do your part and you'll be helping more than just yourself in this matter.