Packing It Burlesque 2 – Pack Harder!

Travelling around for burlesque shows, LARP events and visiting family has taught me that I used to pack WAY too much. Streamlining my luggage was the only way to save my sanity, and packing smart meant I was huffing around less stuff I ultimately didn’t need, which is especially important when travelling on public transport. Whether planes, trains or buses, most of them have luggage limits which isn’t always helpful when you’re going from Glasgow to London with 3 acts worth of luggage, make up, shoes, props and civvie clothes! I’ve condensed what I take and when possible use other ways to transport anything I need. In this short series of posts, I’m going to discuss how I pack my essentials, from a burlesque perspective.

I hope the first part of this little series was helpful, today we’re moving on to the the biggest part of the travel – the suitcase. Again, in the cases of public transport, it’s best to check and double check the weight limit of your suitcase. A cursory look at some travel sites show the average weight allowance is up to 20kg, and you can get luggage scales from places like Home Bargains or Boots to double check before you leave. My personal suitcase has dimensions of L66xW42xD19, so that’s the size I’ll be referencing. I’m also assuming an overnight stay at the location.

Before I pack, I get all my act stuff together. I have a checklist for each act on my Google Drive (yes, I’m that nerdy!) and starting from the outside in, I piece my costumes together, minus shoes. For illustration purposes, I’ve used my Mama costume.

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Once everything is together, including props small enough to pack in, I fold it in itself as small as possible. If I have a belt in the costume, I wrap it round the folded costume, which helps keep it all together. I stuff my shoes with tights/stockings for the act, put the shoes in a plastic bag and put on top of the corresponding costume. If I can, I’ll use one pair of shoes for all acts, and some acts I have are better performed barefoot anyway! I pack the acts in from the bottom of the suitcase up, as seen below, this ensure the heavier things are at the bottom and I have space nearer the top for more fragile props and such.

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Costumes and small props in, I then pack a small laundry bag (another Poundland find!) of underwear, safety knickers for under the costume underwear, another roll of tit tape, and a regular bra or two (if you’re lucky enough to not have to wear a bra you obviously can consider not bringing one!). I pack my civvie wardrobe, usually a vest, tee shirt and skirt. I place the vest inside the tee shirt, then lay the skirt over the tee shirt and roll it up as tightly as I can. I also pack a dress to wear for curtain call and place that inside a nightie, then a dressing gown (perfect for backstage!), fold it up and add to the suitcase. By this time, the case is usually ¾ full. If I’m wearing wigs for any of the acts, I place them in wig bags and put them in last. Some of my wigs are styled and pinned so I treat them delicately! Any other delicate props, hair accessories and such go in at the very top. If they are very delicate, I wrap/stuff what I can in either a hand towel or scarves, which can double up as accessories too, obviously!

Lying the suitcase flat, I find little spaces in between things to stuff travel size hairspray, tampons (even if I’m not due!) and deodorant. I used to try and bring shower gel and such, but I’ve found it easier to pick it up from a shop when I’m there, if the hotel room doesn’t provide it.

Zipping up, I always zip it to the bottom so it’s less easy to access. I’ve never experienced it myself, but I’m always nervous of stories of people wheeling along a street and finding out the zip has been opened and a thief has tried to grab whatever is on top. If it doesn’t end up in a theft, chances are they’ve broken something. Not good! I also tie a colour ribbon onto the handle, especially handy for black suitcases, so it’s easy to spot in a sea of black suitcases! Other things to consider is a tag with your name, accommodation you’ll be staying at (under ℅), the dates you’ll be there and a contact number you’ll be using while at that particular location. If your luggage gets lost, there’s a better chance of it reaching your destination rather than being returned to the point of departure. The other side of the tag should have your home address.

Remember to weigh your suitcase once you’re done! It’s not just about the weight limit, you need to lug it around too, so make sure you’re not going to struggle. Next week I’m going to talk about the extra bits, so if you want to tell me about any information and advice you have, let me know!

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