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Traveling Safely With Your Dance Costume

Posted by Deborah Nelson on Tue, Mar 05, 2019 @ 12:03 PM


February this year has been the snowiest February since 1962 – the year my baby brother was born during another huge snowstorm, the first week of March! Traveling can be problematic with the many flight delays and cancellations, plus difficulty with car travel. Securing your competition dance costumes may be farther down on your list of concerns. BUT, don’t lose track of your costumes!

If you haven’t had a problem with lost luggage or having forgotten to pack a particular outfit or travel item, then you are a very lucky person! Lost luggage can be a nightmare. Will you ever see your favorite pair of sandals again? Or your favorite jeans? Or – horror of horrors – your beautiful, custom, competition dance costume? It is much easier to replay a pair of sandals, a swimsuit or your favorite pair of jeans than a CUSTOM competition dance costume.

Whether you compete as an individual or part of a team, there are many things that you can do to ensure that your dance costume or costumes are not lost.

If you are in charge of a team:

  • Instruct your team members on what to pack and how to pack it. Stress the importance of following your instructions!
  • If your team is flying - have every team member pack their essential costume pieces (outfit, shoes, tights, and head-pieces, special makeup etc. - items that cannot easily be replaced) in their carry-on luggage.
  • Check (and recheck) to ensure items aren't missing.
  • To avoid wrinkling your costumes, fold or neatly roll and place costumes into a 2-quart plastic zip-lock bag (if your costumes are small enough, that is). This helps prevent wrinkles and will prevent any liquid in your luggage from leaking onto your costumes. If you have large, bulkier costumes, fold or roll neatly into a plastic bag – either an inexpensive dry-cleaning bag or a garment bag. You don’t want to store costumes in plastic, but temporarily, you DO want to protect them from liquid leakage or other items such as makeup that could damage your costumes.
  • A garment bag can be your carry-on item, and is the safest way to transport an expensive, custom dance costume. Of course it needs to meet airlines’ size regulations. And with all the new bare-bones plane tickets, make sure you have carry-on as an option (with or without an extra fee).
  • If you are unable to carry-on your dance costumes and accessories, the next best option for making sure they don’t get lost, is to gate-check your luggage. It is more difficult for the airline to lose these bags, as you have eliminated one part of their journey (from the ticket counter to the plane). Always arrive promptly to the luggage carousel and be watchful. It you don’t, un-watched bags sometimes end up in locked offices or mistakenly in other’s hands.
  • If you are traveling by bus or train, make sure no luggage gets left behind. Be very observant about where your luggage is, at all times.
  • Another option might be to ship your costumes ahead of your travels, to either a trusted friend or to the hotel you are staying. Shipping (with tracking) to arrive before you leave allows you to keep tabs on where your package is, and you can relax when tracking documents arrive. Be sure to pack according to safe shipping regulations (with items encased in plastic).
  • Do a 'costume check' immediately upon arrival - to double-check that your team has all luggage, first of all, and then secondarily, that all their costume items are there. At this time, if you have to replace something, you have more time to scramble, rather than waiting until right before your team dresses for your performance.
  • Plan ahead and bring extra tights, gloves, gauntlets, headpieces, and makeup or dance briefs.  That way, if a team member forgets one of these secondary items, you’ll be able to avoid an emergency! Have a strict policy in place that anyone without their costume/uniform will not perform at the event. Stick to this, even if a star performer is left out!
  • PLAN for the unexpected with contingency options – if costumes are lost, what can you wear instead?

If you are traveling as a solo performer, take into consideration the same information as was noted for teams. If your costume is lost or damaged, you will need to consider if you can still perform with the damage, fix part or all of the damage, if you can borrow someone else’s costume, or if you can buy a new costume to ‘make do’.

Happy traveling to everyone! Don’t forget to always take extra care to keep your luggage with you and undamaged.


This article was submitted in the March 2019 issue of Minnesota Dancer

© Deborah J. Nelson/Satin Stitches Ltd.

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Tags: Custom Performance Costumes, Minnesota Dancer Magazine


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