Good morning, everyone! Sorry this is late – DragonCon ends on a Monday, but I still had that Sunday feeling in my head last night.
I know you’re going to hear a lot about the con over the next couple of weeks, and I’ll be one of the people talking about all the great things that happened there. But I also wanted to share something I’ve learned about going to cons that’s more important than you’d think. And that’s about eating while you’re at con.
Most people live their lives on a pretty steady schedule. Wake up five days a week, work the same hours, go to bed at the same time, and eat meals. We hardly think about it, because we’ve done it so long. But when you travel to a con, your schedule is tossed out the window. You’ll be staying up later than normal, you’ll be getting up earlier for panels, and your meal schedule will be dependent on panels ending and other people who want to go to dinner with you. Not to mention it costs money to eat out, money you may not have budgeted for. So you end up eating badly and within a day, your body is letting you know you’ve sinned against it. When I attended WorldCon in Denver a few summers back, I didn’t know the area, so I ate the fast food that was handy in the convention center, but there were no fresh vegetables or fruits available. I was miserable! Thank goodness for the Tor party, where they were serving a huge platter of veggies and fruit. Other people were headed for the beer and wine table, but I was next to the platters stuffing carrots, broccoli and strawberries into my mouth. It was a good lesson.
If you’re driving to a con, you’re in a good position to take care of yourself. While you’re planning your costumes and packing your books, pack a cooler, too. You can bring your favorite junk food – this is supposed to be a fun time, after all. But be sure you pack some vegetables and fruits that travel well and last a few days. Apples, oranges, grapes, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower are all great choices. I’d also recommend packing some good bread, cheese and sliced meat, but don’t forget ice packs to keep them cold on the way, and ziploc bags to fill with hotel ice during your stay. If there are easy finger foods you enjoy, pack them in sealable plastic containers. We took stuffed grape leaves, hummus and crackers, but chicken fingers are a good call, too.
If you’re flying, go online ahead of time and search out the restaurants in the area, so you have an idea of what might make good choices. You should also search for local farmer’s markets or grocery stores you can walk to from the hotel, where you can buy good snacks once you arrive. And for goodness’ sake, check the reviews on the restaurants. Friday night at DragonCon we wanted to go out for Indian food, and another con-goer had mentioned to me a place called Haveli’s within a couple of blocks of the hotel. We gathered eleven people and made the trek, but once we were seated, the chef started demanding that we order family style, and insisted he couldn’t cook for a group as big as ours. Most of the table shared meals, and the food tasted delicious, but the service was below par. The waiter dumped water in my plate and wouldn’t bring me a new one, then it took forty minutes for the management to bring our bill. Which was more than double what we knew we owed! No, we didn’t pay it. We paid what we knew we owed, and left, vowing never to return. It was a terrible situation, and if we’d checked the reviews online more carefully, we might have rethought going there. On the other hand, we went to Pacific Rim Bistro on Thursday night, and had such a wonderful experience we went back on Saturday. If you’re ever in Atlanta, go there and tell them we sent you!
Finally, the most important thing: DRINK WATER. Yes, Cokes and coffee and juice all have water in them, but it’s water that keeps your body running smoothly. Even if you don’t drink a lot of water at home, please believe me. You want to stay hydrated and water does it best. You’ll feel better if you take a drink every time you see a water fountain while you’re at con. If the con provides cups and cold water in the panel rooms, drink a cupful before and after every panel. I can’t stress this enough.
I know this hasn’t really been about writing today, and I hope you’re not too disappointed. But I want you all to be happy and healthy when you come to cons to play with me and other writers like me, so if you follow my advice, we’ll all have an amazing time!