"Bellydancer's Checklist for Travel" by Amaya

(sent to Caravan Mag 9/04)

When it comes to traveling by car or plane, many of us either under-pack, or more often over-pack, causing all sorts of grumblings as porters haul your trunks up stairs and sponsor's husbands groan. High security, cramped seats on planes, delayed flights, long lines . . . travel today is a daunting experience.

Choose sanity . . . a week before you travel to your show, or seminar, open up your main suitcase and start dropping things into it as you go through your day. This is not the time to be spontaneous. Logical, methodical packing will save you schlepping 50 extra pounds of luggage and minimize the chance of being charged extra money for overweight luggage. Airlines have become more and more strict about extra poundage on their flights. As for your luggage, make it distinctive. A big red bow or a unique bumper sticker will help find it on the luggage carousel much easier. Avoid highly expensive luggage pieces. They send up a red flag to those that may want to

Power Pack . . . Build your street wear over simple, neutral colors and clothes. Try to stay within a three-color scheme in clothes. Be a minimalist. Choose thin wrinkle resistant wear and black, white or beige, so everything works together and can be reused. Add colorful ethnic accessories for accenting. Can your costume cover up also make do as a nightgown, for instance? Will a beaded scarf over your shoulders do for a dinner party? Be cozy . . . cotton socks and a wooly shawl on a cold plane will make your trip so much more comfortable.

Limit your shoes . . . One pair of pumps, one pair of dance sandals, and comfy airport-walking shoes should be your max. Really, how often will you really use those hiking boots, furry snow muck-luks, or fancy thigh-high boots on this trip?

Use plastic . . . Use travel size containers for toiletries. No need to carry large bottles of lotions or shampoo. It is worth the time to transfer them to small, plastic bottles. Zip lock bags are fabulous for these liquid items and as a pseudo make up bag.

Lighten your load . . . as you go along on your trip. Toss newspapers and magazines as you finish reading them. Have heavy items or bulky items such as videos shipped ahead. I often tear out all advertising pages out of magazines and leave only the articles intact. I then travel with 2/3 less bulk in my reading materials.

Below is a checklist of basic items for performing and traveling specific to traveling dancers . . .

  1. Water . . . self-explanatory

  2. Costume-all parts. Try on your costume before you pack and put each item directly into your suitcase. You will never forget that bra again!

  3. Make up . . . don't forget eyelash glue, make up remover, tissue, hair clips to tuck hair up while dressing or after a show to cool your neck off.

  4. Pins, safety pins and more pins

  5. Shoes . . . even if you don't wear shoes in performance, slippers will offer protection from dirty floors, hot concrete, gravel, etc. before you go on stage.

  6. Cover up caftan . . . handy for those quick runs down the hall to the bathroom after you dress or to leave the dressing room to check out the show from the sidelines. It is so unprofessional to show the audience your $1000 costume delight before you hit the stage.

  7. Several music choices . . . you never know. Your first choice of music may end up being defective and a back up necessary. Be ready and flexible to dance to different music if the dancer before you just used the same!

  8. Magazine or book . . . just in case you end up waiting in a closet or office somewhere behind the scenes in full costume with dead time on your hands.

  9. CD player with headphones . . . to "practice" while waiting backstage.

  10. High energy snack food . . . in case the night has gotten away from you time wise and you find yourself starving backstage.

  11. Plastic bag . . . for sweaty costume items after the show.

  1. Spare hidden car key . . . who hasn't locked themselves out of their car when stressed and in a huge hurry? (Hope you weren't in costume.)

  2. Spare glasses or contact lenses

  3. Jumper cables.

  4. Electronic patch cords . . . these are those cords that stick out of the back of your stereo system at home. I have a small box of converters, cords, and even a microphone in my car, extra batteries . . . just in case.

  5. Cell phone. In today's world you really should consider a cell phone a safety measure and a must.

  6. Map or directions to your location. MapQuest on the Internet is fabulous for exact directions to just about anywhere on the planet.

  7. Medications . . . . especially aspirin and bandages. A nagging headache or a cut foot can ruin an evening.

  1. Official ID . . . you will 100% not be allowed on a plane if you forget your driver's license or passport.

  2. Paper Proof of e-ticket . . . not necessary, really, but it is reassuring to have something in your bag to pull out if there are any questions at the ticket counter about your flight or arrangements.

  3. Cell phone number of sponsor. A home number is useless since about the time you arrive into the airport, she is probably at the hotel setting things up or running last minute errands.

  4. Water bottle . . . planes can be so dehydrating and service can be skimpy.

  5. Satchel/bag for onboard items, i.e. reading glasses, magazines, stationery, lap top, your workshop flyer.

  6. Food! Food! Food! Especially if you have a tight connection. It is not unusual to be flying 8-10 hours with no chance or time to buy food in the airport. Don't be shy. Everyone does it. Even the airline attendants in the back are snacking it up on their sandwiches! Be the envy of the passengers around you . . . bring a deluxe picnic!

  7. Credit Card . . . in case you run out of cash or get stranded in mid-route. A credit card can always get you more cash, a hotel room, or even another airline ticket.

  8. Flyer of event . . . have you ever arrived into an airport and your contact not shown up? What to do? Who do you call? Where is the event??

  9. Tip money . . . cabs, porters, food servers, hotel maid, are just some of the service people you will run into on a trip. Be cool. Be quick to pull out appropriate dollar bills.

The more you travel, the better you will get at this packing/unpacking business. There IS a skill to this. No one is born knowing how to be a wise packer! May our travel paths cross soon. Happy Trails to You!