Every ballroom dance competitor travels. If you travel by air, there are a few more risks, but even if you only compete in your own home town, you will still need to travel from your home to the competition with your shoes, costumes and essential supplies. Travelling with these items always comes with risks of damage, extra costs and theft. Your risks can be minimized by the way you pack. These are 7 ways to avoid big problems when packing for a competition:
1Pack a set of complete competition essentials in your carry-on luggage
- A major set-back when travelling for a competition is a delay or loss of your luggage. Delays in getting your checked luggage can extend anywhere from a few hours to a more than 2 weeks. In some cases, delayed luggage is actually lost or stolen luggage and is never returned.
- Always carry the essentials for your first heats in your carry-on luggage. This means at least one costume and one pair of shoes.
- If you expect to arrive at your destination after stores have closed, and you are dancing early the next morning, essentials might also need to include hairspray and basic make-up unless you have professional appointments lined up for each.
2Roll our costumes instead of folding them
- For any costume, carry-on might be a challenge. For International Ballroom dresses, the struggle is REAL! If you fly economy/coach class, a garment bag is a big risk. Your garment bag and the garment in it will almost certainly be crushed by other travellers’ bags in the overhead compartment, and will not fit well under the seat in front of you. Consider a hard shell carry-on bag instead.
- Whatever the nature of your costume, and whether it is packed in carry-on or checked luggage, roll the garment carefully and tightly instead of folding it. This will prevent unsightly creases, is less damaging to heavily stoned garments, and is really the only way to ensure that the crinoline or tulle in skirts get safely to a compact enough size for packing.
3Wrap your shoes individually, and make sure they are fresh
- Some manufacturers provide individual shoe bags or bags with separate compartments for each shoe. If you do not have this, wrap one shoe in a soft cloth so it will not rub against the other shoe, and scratch it in transit.
- Also when packing shoes, remember that they will be up against the rest of your clothes and may transfer dirt or odour. Wash dirty shoe bags and spray the inside of your shoe with a disinfectant spray or shoe fresher to kill the bacteria that causes odour. You can also put a dryer sheet inside the toe of each shoe before you pack it.
4Don’t put heavy and bulky cases in your travel bag
- Be creative about what you pack delicate items in to reduce the number of bags you need and their weight, both of which can mean extra charges when you travel by air.
- Large decorative hair pieces will be well protected in empty margarine containers, or in the light plastic containers used for hot foods in supermarkets.
- Roll-up make-up bags and make-up brush bags save a lot of space and weight compared to box style cases.
5Protect Your Jewelry
- Roll-up make-up bags or margarine containers can also be used to pack jewelry. Roll-up make-up bags in particular have the added benefit of making jewelry less obvious to airport thieves. Remember that although the automation and security of most modern airports has reduced theft from checked luggage, it still happens, and is more likely for jewellery than costumes, given the size of each.
- To reduce the risk of theft a bit more, keep it with you or pack jewelry in the middle of your bag and inside a rolled garment. Never place jewelry right on top or in the corners or edges of the bag.
- If you have a lot of jewelry and ornaments, also put each piece in a zip lock plastic sandwich or freezer bag. This will prevent stones from loosening because they rub against each other. (By the way, sealed plastic bags are great way to store any jewelry that has metal that can tarnish, even when not travelling or not being used for competitions; this is because by sealing the pieces in plastic you limit the air exposure that is needed for tarnish to occur).
6Plastic freezer bags are essential when packing sprays or liquids
- Even if it has never happened to you before, you should assume that your luggage will, at some point, have a spill or puncture of a container with liquid.
- Make sure that you pack to prevent the damage from this by sealing anything that is a liquid or spray in seal-able plastic freezer bags. Freezer bags have a stronger seal than sandwich bags so you should use them here, even if you only need a small size.
7Pack, so there is no space between items
- Tight packing is important so things do not knock around. It also keeps you to the smallest bags possible.
- Start by packing your rolled garments, with your jewelry rolled inside.
- Then fill the spaces in-between with everything else. Think of inserting shoes, make-up bags and other items between your garments, rather than placing them on top. This will make your packing tighter and easier to manage.