Best Practices to Avoid Altitude Sickness at NAFSA

You’re gonna be REAL high when you come to Colorado for NAFSA 2016.

No, not that kind of high. High in elevation — 5,280 feet up to be exact. There’s a reason Denver is called the “Mile High City,” and for those educators who will be visiting our fair state from a more lowly or seaside location, the altitude may surprise you.

Since you only have a few sweet days to make the most of this annual conference, it’s important that you hit the ground running. If you’re within a comfortable driving distance of Denver, you will always be better prepared for altitude sickness by increasing your elevation incrementally versus dropping in out of the sky.

In case you don’t have a spare 10-30 hours for a cross country road trip, then it’s best you…


1. Know the symptoms.


NAFSA 2016 Sickness Tips

What does altitude sickness look like? It can be different things to different people, but common symptoms that strike even the healthiest of health nuts include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite

Not great considering time to acclimate isn’t really on your side. Understanding your body’s reactions will help you gauge effective strategies to minimize its onset.


2. Drink a ton of water. Then drink some more.


NAFSA 2016 Sickness Tips


Staying hydrated will be your #1 defense against pending sickness. Longer bathroom wait lines aside, it will be crucial that you drink plenty of fluids during your time at NAFSA. Come prepared with a water bottle and don’t be alarmed if nature calls more frequently than you’d like. Schedule bathroom breaks between sessions, and don’t be afraid to “Blame it on the al-al-al-al-al-altitude” if you have to excuse yourself during a meeting.


3. Take it easy.


Even though you’ll want to squeeze in a few extra runs to prep for TEAN’s annual 5K, don’t over do it. Exercise can feel a LOT harder when you’re at altitude. Feel free to use it as an excuse to abandon your normal workout regimen for a week.

Get some sleep, too. As much fun as it is to reconnect with old friends and colleagues, make sure you’re looking out for #1.


4. Limit your exposure to sunlight.


NAFSA 2016 Sickness Tips


Considering we’re there for a conference, this shouldn’t be too difficult to manage. That great big ball of energy can zap yours like none other. Do yourself (and your ability to stay awake during the keynote) a favor by wearing sunglasses, a sunhat, or by avoiding direct sunlight altogether.

Bask in the warm Colorado sunshine during a patio lunch later on in the week rather than Monday or Tuesday.


5. Alcohol: be cautious.

NAFSA 2016 Sickness Tips


Needing only 1-2 drinks to feel a buzz may feel like a reality of years past, but it will come flying back into your future because of the altitude. Monitor your consumption during the conference, not only because we want to keep it professional :), but also because alcohol will affect your body very differently when you’re THIS HIGH.

On the flipside, we’d be bad friends if we didn’t recommend the best local brews to try. Avery, Odell, and New Belgium beers are a must! Just not all at once.


6. Don’t be ashamed if you’re panting heavily as you climb up even 5-10 steps.

We’ll be right there with you, cursing our lung capacity, and wishing we’d opted for the elevator instead.



The team at GoAbroad looks forward to welcoming you to Denver next month! Be sure to also check out our recommendations for 11 Things to Do in Denver When You Aren’t NAFSA-ing!

Leave a Reply