Conventions are often the best way to get in front of customers to hear about their needs, or to learn more about what’s happening in your field, or to network with potential clients--or, most probably, all of the above.
But conventions are usually not in your home city, (which may be a blessing in disguise, since you don’t have to juggle work and home commitments simultaneously) and the daily schedule can be brutally busy.
Here are some tips for making the most of a convention, without burning yourself out.
BEFORE YOU GO
This is a good time to give your immune system a little boost. About a month before you leave, amp up your exercise routine a bit--or start one if you aren’t already. A few 30-minute walks per week will help build your stamina for long hours on the convention floor.
Get adequate sleep. Only you know what the right amount is for you, but the National Sleep Foundation says that most adults need 7-9 hours per night.
Eat right. That means lots of fruits and vegetables, breakfast every morning, and avoiding junk food. If you’re already taking vitamins, keep taking them.
Make sure you have enough supply of any prescription medications to last you through the convention.
ON THE ROAD
PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES
Pack what you need to look good while you conduct business, (don’t forget comfortable shoes, some breath mints, and a charging station that’s got plugs and adaptors for your location) and then add a pair of sneakers and some workout wear. Throw in some lighter-than-air resistance bands and you’re set to have a mini-workout in your hotel room. So even if you only have a few minutes a day for exercise, you’ll be keeping your healthy habits.
Make sure to walk around frequently on planes and trains, and take a break every hour or two if you’re driving. On planes, activity helps to prevent serious issues like deep vein thrombosis, and on other forms of transport, you and your muscles will stay happier if you move around from time to time (and you’ll be less likely to fall asleep behind the wheel.)
And stay hydrated, no matter what form of transport you’re using. According to Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publishing, the average healthy adult needs 30-50 ounces of water a day--and more under conditions of physical stress, such as flying or, you know, attending conventions.
A refillable water bottle is always a good idea, unless, of course, you’re traveling to a place where you should only consume bottled water.
DURING THE CONVENTION
You're likely to find that dinner and breakfast meetings throw your sleep schedule off--especially if you’re also dealing with jet lag. It’s tempting to try to counter sleep deprivation with coffee, but too much caffeine will make you jumpy and make it even harder to sleep at night. Instead, reach for some mint or ginger tea (you can pack a few tea bags before you leave) for a gentler pick-me-up.
Don’t worry too much about a few days of mild sleep deprivation. According to Medical News Today, while you will probably feel some unpleasant effects, it’s more of a nuisance than a health risk. But be sure to get back to your regular sleep routine when you get home.
Download a white noise app and pack your headphones. Hotels are noisy and the people in the room next to yours may be world-class snorers or, you know, getting busy. Try the Buddhify app if you’d like to meditate yourself to sleep--it guides you through relaxation (and has many other situation-specific meditations that are useful no matter what’s happening in your life.)
FOOD AND DRINK
It’s tempting to go all out and eat and drink way more than you’re used to at home. But just don’t. Try to stick to your usual eating habits (your digestive system will thank you.) This is especially true if you find yourself in a location with unfamiliar cuisine. So pay attention to drinking water and local food precautions.
Pack healthful snacks. Protein bars or small bags of nuts and dried fruit should be in your convention swag bag. You might not get lunch on some days--so have something to keep you away from donuts and other sweets that will taste good for a moment--before you get to the blood sugar crash.
When it comes to alcohol, remember you’re on a business trip. Hold your consumption back to just a couple of drinks, and drink plenty of water. You don’t want to be that person. You know what we mean.
If you can, try to stay in a hotel that has a gym or swimming pool. Even 15 minutes of moving enough to elevate your heart rate each morning will reduce your fatigue and stress levels. Even if--especially if--you’ve overindulged the night before.
No gym? Put on your sneakers and take a walk, or do a workout in your room.
During breaks, get out of the convention center, even if it’s just to walk out the front door for a few minutes to get some fresh air and perhaps a little bit of quiet or alone time--conventions are notoriously noisy and crowded, and all that controlled chaos increases fatigue.
Is there a relaxation station on your convention floor? Get a back or foot massage (don’t be shy, everybody else is too), or take a brief break in the nap room (but set a timer). 10 minutes here will set you up for the rest of the day.
And don’t forget to wash your hands. Often. There’s probably no better place to pick up a bug than a crowded space. If you packed hand sanitizers, use them frequently.
Above all, stay hydrated! And have fun.
WHEN YOU GET HOME
With any luck, you’ll have a weekend to rest up. But if you need to go right into work, keep doing what you’ve been doing: eating well, getting some exercise, sleeping better (in your own bed--bliss), and drinking lots of water.
To keep your healthy momentum going at the office, check out our blogs--10 Ways to Get Fit at Your Desk and Not-Sad Desk Salads--18 Delicious and Healthy Make-Ahead Lunches.