Traveling for belly dance
1) Plan strategically: Before you start packing, visit the website of your airline and find out what THEIR restrictions are. Every airline has their own unique way of calculating luggage fees. Domestic US flights can be very different from international flights even on the same airline. Choose your luggage first, so you don’t make any costly mistakes.
Top tip: Plan on traveling outside of the US? Invest in an “international” carry-on sized bag now in anticipation of future travel.
Here are some suggestions:
2) Make a list: Worried about forgetting something? Use a packing list! A packing list will give you piece of mind. Keep it near by when you are planning for your trip and use it to keep track of what you are taking.
Top tip: I like to use an X method for marking my packing list. I draw one leg \ as I gather items together on my bed. Then draw the second leg / as I place the items into my bag. If there’s a complete X, then I know the item has been packed.
3) Carry costumes and jewelry in a carry-on: Even if you plan on checking your bag, be sure to carry irreplaceable items in your carry-on luggage. If your luggage gets lost, you can always visit a mall and pick up replacement pants, tops, and underwear. However, it’s practically impossible to replace a costume or an expensive piece of jewelry.
Top tip: The new generation of “cabin bags” are sized to slide under an airplane seat. They have wheels, so they easily roll through the airports. If your performance site is not in your lodging, and you have packed your costume, makeup kit, and music in this one bag, you can grab and go.
Here are some suggestions:
4) Pick your most compact costume: If you are traveling with epic luggage restrictions, pick the costume from your wardrobe that packs the smallest and lightest. Once you have picked your costume, lay out your complete ensemble on your bed. Be sure to include shoes, accessories, and jewelry. Make the decisions before you pack to reduce your load.
Top tip: Pack a backup costume in the form of a long stretchy dance dress that coordinates with the same set of accessories and jewelry. It will double your wardrobe, in the minimum amount of space. The complete costume I’m wearing below and an extra blue assiut robe is packed into a single large packing cube. See it packed up in #8.
5) Do a “makeup rehearsal”: Everyday, airlines are making their luggage requirements tighter and smaller! If you are traveling “carry-on only,” all liquids need to fit into a quart-sized bag, and each individual item must be a max of 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters. Conduct a makeup rehearsal and put the makeup you use into your travel bag as you create your performance face. Pack only what you need, and put any liquids into your liquids bag.
Top tip: I like to travel with drugstore priced, readily available cosmetics. I avoid taking anything that was expensive or limited edition and not replaceable.
6) Create a music kit: If you are like most dancers I know, you have your performance sets and practice music on your smart phone. But for security, you probably don’t want to hand your cell phone over to someone you might not know. To avoid this, take along a separate MP3 player and burn your set onto CD’s. If you’re taking an MP3, be sure to label it with name and cell #, and bring your own cord, and a backup battery.
Top tip: Put all of these items into their own separate bag with everything labelled.
7) Mark your luggage inside and out: On the outside of your luggage, be sure to include distinctive luggage tags, stickers, paint, ribbons, especially if you have a standard sized black bag.
Top tip: Label your luggage with phone number and email on the outside. On the inside of your luggage include a copy of your passport, travel documents, and full contact information. I keep a labelled plastic envelope that lives in my luggage and I use over and over.
8) Use packing cubes: Organize your luggage and keep your daily clothes separate from your costume, and clean clothes separate from dirty. This will reduce stress, especially when getting ready for your performance. I like to pack my entire costume into one packing cube including shoes, jewelry, and accessories.
Top tip: Take along a couple of empty gallon-sized zip-top baggies to isolate sweaty workout wear and socks. Pop a dryer sheet into these plastic bags to control the scent.
Here are some suggestions:
9) Document your trip: Take a photos of your location, other participants, the event promoters, instructors, meals, THE FUN! Take along a camera or simply take photographs on your smart phone.
Top tip: Take photos of flyers, business cards, program pages, maps,and all the other “paper” to reduce the weight and space in your luggage. Below are photos of my travel buddy and co-author Sara Shrapnell with one of our book patrons, posing with the show organizer Afra and the historic Toorak Hotel, Torquay.
10) Build downtime during your trip for you: If you are traveling to a new city, or even a new country, try to carve out some time to see some of the local sites. One extra night in the hotel followed by a late flight will give you a whole day to drink up some of the local flair.
Top tip: Do a web search for the best prices for your hotel room “the day after.” You might find that the next day is more affordable than you think! We enjoyed spending time wandering around Torquay, visiting the historic Abbey and taking a walk along the quay.
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