Every time I sit down to write a SHOT Show recap, I find myself stuck. Is SHOT Show writer’s block a thing? I think it’s a thing.
I don’t know how I can possibly sum up such an eventful week. A week of complete sensory overload. A week of meeting amazing people. A week of good times with friends. A week of walking the show floor, networking receptions, parties, and so much more.
The times that I was able to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), I found myself writing about how I managed to get through the week without getting sick, rather than about SHOT Show itself.
So here it is: the SHOT Show Survival Guide
This doesn’t only apply to SHOT Show, but could apply to travel, trade shows, or multi-day events in general. If you’re reading this and you don’t go to SHOT Show and you feel like this won’t apply to you, I think you will still find some useful tips and tricks.
The SHOT Show flu/plague/crud is no joke. I’ve heard the tales of everyone getting sick during or shortly after SHOT Show, and it hit a lot of people really hard this time around. I ain’t got time for that. Staying healthy is a priority for me in general, and it requires extra attention to maintain that during something like SHOT Show. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to avoid it, but I was determined to not get sick.
I think there’s a few factors that contribute to getting sick at things like SHOT Show (at least for me, in my humble, non-medical opinion):
- Lack of sleep
- Poor nutrition
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Lack of self care
- Too many humans together in one place
My goal was to combat these things leading up to and through the week by employing the following strategies. I’ve got some pro tips and advice thrown in there for ya, as well.
1. Get Enough Sleep
I’m an eight hours a night kind of gal, and I am definitely not a night owl. It’s not difficult for to me Irish Goodbye in the middle of an event so that I can go home (or to my room) and crawl in bed. Even when staying out a bit later than my normal, I am proud to say I got at least six hours of sleep every night I was in Vegas. I set a curfew for myself every night and made sure I was back in my room by then.
This seems to be challenging for some folks. Here’s my advice: Decide on how much sleep you want/need to get and set a reasonable curfew for yourself that will allow you to get that amount of sleep. Set an alarm on your phone for that time. When the alarm goes off, leave. You don’t need to say goodbyes, just go. Create an environment in your hotel room (or wherever you’re staying) that is conducive to good sleep, go through your normal bedtime routine, and make sleep a priority.
2. Hydrate Like Crazy
I drink a ton of water as it is, so I made sure to keep up with my normal consumption plus some extra, given that the climate in Vegas is much drier than I am accustomed to. I carried a backpack with me that was big enough to fit my large reusable water bottle, and I refilled it every time I had the chance. I also said yes anytime someone offered me a bottle or glass of water. If someone offers you a water, take it! Unless it’s the weirdo on the street corner… definitely don’t take that. You get the idea.
Again, this one seems to be challenging for some folks. So here’s my advice: Decide on how much water you should/want to drink throughout the day and calculate what that actually means in terms of number of bottles/glasses you need to drink (my goal is about a gallon, which means I need to fill and drink my 21oz bottle six times throughout the day). Carry a reusable water bottle, make it a priority to drink it, and fill it up if it’s low. If that still doesn’t help you stay hydrated or if you are a bit forgetful, set an hourly reminder on your phone to hydrate! And no, coffee doesn’t count. 😉
On the subject of hydration.. it’s more than just consuming water for me. Vegas is DRYYYYY compared to what I’m used to, so I make sure to take a couple extra steps to ensure I didn’t shrivel up like a raisin.
- Humidifier: I bought this cute little portable humidifier on Amazon. It’s small, so very easy to make room in the suitcase for it. All you have to do is get a standard water bottle and you’re good to go. I had this set up on the nightstand in my room and it was a huge help.
- Lotion: I already have a strong attachment to lotion, but when I’m traveling to a drier climate I make sure I keep up with it more so than usual.
- Skin Care: It’s easy to skip skin care steps while on travel, but I do my best to keep up with it. Yes, I packed a ridiculous amount of skin care products, but it was so worth it. Aside from my normal skin care routine, I also brought hydrating eye and face masks to help keep my skin looking fresh.
- Eye Drops: My eyes get SO DRY and have a really hard time in a place like Vegas with smoke filled casinos and conditioned air on top of the already dry climate. I use preservative free eye drops a few times throughout the day to keep my eyeballs feeling good.
- Nasal Spray / Neti Pot: My nasal passages don’t feel good in dry climates either. I get nose bleeds and if things dry out too much, and I think it contributes to me getting sick. I brought saline nasal spray to keep things moist throughout the day, and flushed everything out at night with the Neti Pot. I picked up a gallon of distilled water at the local Walgreens, because tap water in the Neti Pot is a no-no.
3. Don’t Forget About Nutrition!
I find this one particularly difficult to keep up with during travel. I usually eat the majority of my meals at home, so having to eat out constantly when I’m traveling is a big change. Not only is it expensive (especially in Vegas), but it often results in an excess of calories, sodium, and other ingredients that may not make me feel good. I also find that when I’m traveling and/or very busy, I don’t snack between meals like I normally do, so by the time I get to a restaurant for a meal, I am hangry and then I end up overeating. Avoiding a hangry Monica is essential to my wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of everyone around me.
To help keep myself on track, I stocked up on some breakfast foods (oatmeal, fruit, yogurt) to get my day going, and some healthy snacks (hummus and veggies, protein bars, jerky, nuts) to get me through the hours between meals. When I did eat out, I did my best to choose healthy options focused around protein.
Pro Tip: Not every hotel room has a fridge, and some only have mini-bars that will charge you if you shift anything around to make room for your own stuff. Most hotels will have mini-fridges available on request (sometimes they do charge for those, but it’s totally worth it in my opinion).
On top of keeping my nutrition in check, I also made sure to keep up on my vitamin regime. A few people suggested getting on a vitamin regimen several months before SHOT Show, so I did. I am terrible about remembering to take my vitamins, but this was just the encouragement I needed to get into a routine. I also brought a week’s worth of vitamins with me on the trip in my pill box that makes me feel like an old lady.
In addition, I started taking Emergen-C or Airborne daily about two weeks prior to SHOT Show, throughout the week of SHOT Show, and for about two weeks after. I don’t know if I can swear by this approach or if it even scientifically makes sense, but I didn’t get sick… so perhaps it worked!
4. Limit Alcohol Consumption
I love wine – y’all know this. But SHOT Show isn’t exactly the place to go for wine tasting, and I don’t really enjoy drinking cocktails or beer. I also don’t enjoy the way I feel when my alcohol consumption skyrockets for six nights in a row.
I like the social aspect of having a drink in my hand, but I often prefer to keep my alcohol consumption low or nonexistent when I’m traveling (unless I’m on a wine vacation), especially when I’m in an unfamiliar place surrounded by thousands of unfamiliar people. I joined friends and met new ones at the Circle Bar almost every night (because that is just what you do at SHOT Show), but I stuck to water or club soda for the most part.
Many people feel like they need to have a drink in their hand in order to be a part of the social scene. Many people also judge their friends if they choose not to have a drink. Don’t be that person that asks why your friend doesn’t have a drink. Also don’t be that person that drinks when you don’t want to – don’t give in to peer pressure!
That being said, if you want to look like you’re having a cocktail when you’re really having a non-alcoholic beverage, ask the bartender for said beverage in a rocks or highball glass. Add a lemon or lime to make it look extra legit.
5. Focus on Self Care
I freaking love self care. I integrate into everything I do, and everything I’ve talked about thus far falls into the category of self care. I like how I feel when I’m taking care of myself, and I feel like crap when I don’t. Aside from what I’ve already talked about, my self care routine involves a number of other things. I won’t bore you with the details, but I made sure to keep up on key aspects of my self-care routine while at SHOT Show.
Some things did have to fall to the wayside, like going to the gym, for example. I have been successful in going to the gym on other trips, but it just wasn’t going to happen this time. Instead, I dedicated a few minutes at the start and end of each day to a bit of stretching, foam rolling (yes, I packed a foam roller), and mobility work.
My advice to you: pick out a few aspects of your self care routine that make the biggest impact to your wellbeing and prioritize those while you’re traveling.
6. Be Careful Around Humans
Cram ~70,000 people into a trade show and it’s inevitable that someone will get sick and spread it around (I would love to know who Patient Zero was for the Shot Show flu). Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do to avoid human contact at an event like SHOT Show, but there are certainly things we can do to increase our chances of not getting sick.
- Carry around a few gallons of hand sanitizer and use it generously.
- Wash your hands every chance you get, including before AND after using the restroom, and before AND after eating.
- Avoid handshakes. There are plenty of other ways we can greet people.
- Avoid close interactions with someone who is already sick. I know how tempting it is to want to be close to your SHOT Show Crush, but if they are sick… steer clear. Save yourself!
And for goodness sakes people… if you are ill, please do not grace us with your presence. Focus on getting yourself well and keep your germs to yourself. 🙂
I’m almost done, I promise.
All in all, I had a fantastic first experience at SHOT Show and I am very proud of myself for surviving the week and not getting sick. That being said, there are a few things I wish I had done differently and I will definitely have a better strategy for my next SHOT Show!
- Time block my day and made more effective/efficient use of my time during show hours.
- Schedule down time so I can recharge throughout the day (introvert over here), rather that being completely overstimulated and exhausted by the end of the day.
- Schedule time off the strip. Preferably something outside in the sunshine.
- Spend more dedicated time with the people I really wanted to spend time with. Again, scheduling is important!
- Take photos with people! I was so bad at this. I finally got to meet so many amazing people that I’ve followed online for a long time and I totally failed at getting photos with any of them.
- Use SHOT Show as an opportunity to get some cool content. Again, I failed at taking photos or videos of much while on the show floor and at range day.
I really didn’t feel like I’d want to go back to SHOT Show while I was in the thick of it… but now that I’ve had some time to recover, I know for sure that I can’t wait to go back!