Let’s face it, no one likes to get sick, especially when traveling and attending conferences. One of the largest tech conferences in the world is SXSW Interactive which attracts thousands of geeks, nerds, developers,etc to Austin each year to learn, network and of course to party. Last year (2014) SXSW Interactive attracted over 32,000 thousands people from 82 foreign countries. With that many people, networking, shaking hands, exchanging business cards, in and out of bathrooms and more, unfortunately there’s plenty of germs in the air. This is what many SXSW veterans call SXSW Sars.

In 2009 and 2010 SXSW Sars was so bad it was trending on Twitter and there were sessions at SXSW on how not to get Sars. Signs of Sars start with a sore throat, lost of voice, then low energy and lastly no appetite. It’s almost like the flu but just not as bad. Some people would say that SXSW sars is a result from a lot of parting and no sleep which is part true. Regardless of the what causes SXSW Sars, getting sick at SXSW is real.

For the past two years I’ve avoided getting sick after SXSW and being that I’ve attended and have spoken at SXSW six out of the past seven years I believe I developed a good strategy for how not to get sick before, during and after, aka how not to get SXSW sars.

Before SXSW
At least three days before SXSW start taking Zinc or zicam tablets
Get plenty of rest
Drinks lots of water
Use hand sanitizer on your flights

During SXSW
Wash your hands, like every hour
Use hand sanitizer after every contact
Use hand sanitizer before eating, leaving a session, leaving a lounge
Drinks lots of water
Eat a good breakfast
Try to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep every other night
Pack snacks(protein bars, almonds, bananas )
Take cough drops every 3-6 hours
Take Zinc or zicam tablets every 3-6 hours(especially in the morning and before you go to bed)
Bump fist more than handshake
Bump elbows when eating or the use the universal sign for “what’s up”

After SXSW
Rest, take an extra day off to just sleep in.
More Zinc or zicam tablets a couple of days after SXSW
More water
Workout

This has worked for me for the past two years. It can seem a little OCD but I rather be healthy than sick. For example I was having dinner and met one of the founders of iheart radio. He was sitting next to me. We shook hands and the waitress brought our food to the table. Before I picked up my fork, I reached for the hand sanitizer for a good cleaning and started eating.

I hope this helps for any conference and not just SXSW.

Stay healthy friends!

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