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Avoid Con Crud by Eating Healthy 


by MJ Wilke

March 2015


Eating right is not always convenient or even possible on the road and you can’t always stay in perfect health when you travel—sometimes there’s no avoiding getting sick. However, you can take some steps to keep your sick days to a minimum and avoid being run-down; you might even return from a con feeling healthy and refreshed as well as inspired.


Planning ahead to eat at least one healthier meal a day will improve your odds of staying well on the road, and can even save you money. Which means more dollars in your pocket to collect all those sonic screwdrivers (I have more than one.)


Things to Pack for Eating Healthy from a Professional Road Warrior.

  • Plan ahead. Research what is available at the hotel, convention site, and within walking distance. Make a list of options for restaurants and grocery stores, as well as fast food with healthier choices if needed in a pinch.

  • Protein bars. On occasions at comic-cons when meal times are pushed back, you’ll need something to fill in. Protein bars and a bottle of water are a healthier and less expensive choice than a candy bar and soda from a vending machine.

  • Oatmeal. The ultimate in-room meal. At the end of an exhausting day, instead of ordering a pizza, oatmeal is an easy meal paired with an apple, available from most hotel front desks. A slice of Domino’s Pizza has 420 calories, 16 grams of fat, and 670 mg of sodium. Oatmeal + an apple only has 220 calories, 2 grams of fat, and 240 mg of sodium. Heat water in the coffeemaker and make the oatmeal in a coffee cup, cover a few minutes for the oatmeal to steep, and enjoy. McCann’s Instant Irish Oatmeal packets is a good choice that packs well, and at less than a dollar a packet, you’ll save at least $15 per meal.

  • Healthy blended drinks. A wand blender packed in a hard plastic cup like the reusable ones from Starbucks takes up less space in your suitcase than a hairdryer. Use orange juice and a banana from the hotel breakfast bar along with protein powder to make a great smoothie. If you’re just interested in a protein drink, a shaker style cup works well, just leave out the banana. Pre-measured protein powder or smoothie mix works best. Do it yourself using snack-size Ziploc baggies for each day, then place all in a large Ziploc bag to prevent spillage in your suitcase. The cost of the blender, protein powder, and cup is about what you would spend on one smoothie.  

  • Coolers! Consider packing a soft-side cooler or a more expensive collapsible one, like the Coleman collapsible coolers. A quick trip to a grocery store when you arrive will save you money on bottled waters and snacks throughout the con. In fact, one case of bottled water often costs the same as just one bottle of water at a convention center. Also, pick up a jar of peanut butter with some bread or crackers for healthier snacking.

  • Portable full meals. A pre-packaged full meal that doesn’t need refrigeration is great while waiting in line such as GoPicnic or ProBar replacement meals. They are lightweight and fit easily into a backpack.  Remember, skipping meals will only run down your immune system, so try to stay on a regular meal schedule.


While it doesn’t make sense to pack every meal for a trip, controlling the amount of your fast and/or junk food intake will make you feel better so you can take on the con. In addition, you’ll enjoy savings of $20 or more per day by preparing just one meal. For a four-day trip, that $80 to $100 can make a difference, which is a lot if you are already on a tight budget. With this savings, you’ll have more money in your pocket for T-shirts, comic books, and action figures, and you might even consider splurging on a meal one night. In my case, I use the savings on a massage at the hotel spa.


Stay healthy my friends!



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MJ Wilke is the founder of Wayward Nerd. She is a road warrior. A nerd. A trekkie. A whovian. A Star Wars fanatic. She will go where no one has gone before, come back and post it here.

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