So long haul travel has been a part of my life for a long time. Up until the last couple years it was either with family, or in quite a few cases, a 200 piece marching band. And in these travels I have learned quite a few tips, tricks, and hacks for getting to the destination, rocking it, and getting back. Hell in the last 3 trips I went with my old troupe showed me so much (mostly make sure SOMEBODY in your group has a fucking clue but that’s neither here nor there)
- HANDLE YOUR SHIT!-That is your money, your costumes, your supplies, and planning ahead to make sure you have what you need when you get to the gig. Don’t be that bassoon player without extra reeds or the team lead who doesn’t actually know what’s going on and can’t tell anybody. Have a routine for hotel living and travel. Double check your packing. Make sure you know where to be and when and what to bring and know your parts. DON’T EXPECT ANYBODY ELSE TO DO IT FOR YOU! It’s common sense right? But you would be shocked at the shit I”ve seen in the last few years like gogo dancers who don’t know how to do makeup and expect everybody else to save the day at the last minute, or not having a routine for stuff and getting your wallet packed in check baggage leaving you with only enough cash for a soda (*cough*or so I’ve heard >.>). If you have a complicated costume or require certain props, make sure multiple times, that you have all your shit and it’s in order before you pack up. Missing socks is one thing, but not having something really important like half your costume or your meds is another. NOTE: if you are packing your rxes make sure you bring the actual bottles! In some states not having the actual bottle can be a felony (stupid I know). It also helps tho if you run out on the road because you can get your rx filled again if you have the bottle. Put anything sensitive in your bag in the trunk and keep enough meds, undies, your money (most of it) and electronics in a carry-on behind your seat.
- HANDLE YOUR SHIT PART 2: driving If you are driving, or traveling with someone else, make sure you have cash for tolls and gas. Don’t be that guy begging for cash on facebook because you can’t plan. If you drive a lemon like me make sure that AAA is ready and you have a backup jumper cable set and generator along with food, water, and cold weather gear if needed. If you are traveling with someone, bring the cash to split for gas; it’s far to easy to “forget” you owe the driver when you get back to town. If you are planning to meet up with a team at a particular time, be there at that time. Don’t make the bus wait for you! That being said, if the team is meeting at someone’s house at 4 am to leave to drive…you really don’t need to appear there at 2 unless you slept over. Hell leaving early? Sleep over! Happy fun time!
- KEEP IT CLEAN Going to the beach, or camping, or hell just anywhere stash some extra plastic bags in your luggage. Not only can you put your “need to launder” clothes apart from others, but if you have to pack dirty shoes or sandy clothes you can keep the rest of your stuff clean. I also like to keep makeup or bodywash or booze packed in giant ziplock bags because I’ve had stuff pee in my baggage too many times to count. Nothing is worse than opening your bag when you get to the hotel to find your shampoo as spooged all over your uniform and it looks like a bukkake movie in there and the shit is dry clean only and you have to line up for the parade in 20 minutes!!
- TRAVELING IN MULTIPLE CARS: Unless you have CB radios and push to talk, and are driving trucks in formation, good luck with a true convoy. I have yet to travel with a group where all the drivers drive the same. I follow the rules because I don’t want to be pulled over, but the last convoy I was with, the other cars were driving way over the speed limit and I would be constantly pressured to take the same risks through texts. use your navigator as a communications officer: they can send and take texts, help you find where you’re going because lets face it most GPSes point out turns after you’ve passed it. They can also look things up like nearest gas stations, places to eat, and watch for the po-po. Because it’s hard to keep in a group on the highway have way points planned and be like “everybody needs to be here or past it by X time”. This makes sure you all arrive close to the right time.
- PLAN YOUR ROUTE AHEAD: I could write a whole article (and will) on old school navigating using google maps, but in the short term, dont’ just go where google says to go. Look at the map and see where it leads you. In our trip to MA this year google wanted to take us through NY City. NO! You can always override your GPS by linking “way points” which ALSO make great places to switch drivers, contact the rest of the team, get a pit stop and keep up to date on things. I make a way point about every 3-4 hours.
- PLAY IT COOL!We all love to let our freak flags fly but when traveling to an event in certain parts of the country…well with the current puritanical climate just about anywhere outside of the west coast, if you can travel out of costume do so. Cops love to pull people over who look weird or who they think are going to festivals. It’s also hard to drive easily with your wig on and armor. Sometimes this can’t be avoided but if you can, on the 8 hour drive to the south is not the time to be sporting full fetish gear. It can create issues with getting into hotels, dealing with people at rest stops and the police. Also the wilder you look w hen people pass you, the more normal you have to drive. Bright pink hair, speeding and weaving in traffic screams “pull me over officer!”. I’ve only been pulled over twice and once was driving perfectly normal but the cop said my bright pink hair caught his attention (he let us go but another story), and another time I was 1 mile over the speed limit in rural WV but my cat ears and what looked like a body bag in the passenger seat got me a talking to. You want to get to the venue and not end up in jail alright people?
- PACK CAREFUL LIKE: anything messy (anything with glitter, fake fur garments, armor, anything freshly painted, anything wtih feathers, delicate hats etc) needs to be wrapped up in a bag. I like to reuse zip bags from bulk stores or use the 5 gallon zip lock bags. Nobody wants bright pink glitter from their Pinkie Pie costume all over their Arthas costume right? Don’t be afraid to pad props and armor in boxes with newspaper or extra plastic bags or blankets for camping in your room later. Traveling with makeup and other meltables and traveling in the summer heat? Keep that in your bug out bag behind your seat so you can take it with you when you get out of the car at rest stops. It doesn’t take long in a hot car to melt all your lipsticks or melt our armor. And when loading the car, be careful of the rest of your team’s gear. Dropping people off? Put their shit in last!
- HAVING A GROUP MEETING SPOT: Having to log into the hotel at the same time? Plan to have a way point at the destination to collect everybody and do so. Nothing is worse than getting to the con and you can’t find your team!
NEXT: Road warrior living: getting your sleep on!