There are certain things you won’t learn until you experience them, such as the burlesque tour bag. However, if by sharing a few stories, anecdotes, and tips, it makes your transition into or understanding of burlesque more seamless, then amen!
I’ve been performing as a pole dancer and striptease artist since 2010. Back then I called myself a Sensual Erotic Artist. What I didn’t know then was that there was a name for the blend of dancing and performing that I did and its called “Burlesque.” With that being said, I’ve performed locally in whatever city I’ve lived in for theatrical, public, private and charity events and I’ve toured for over a year with a production company that produced a burlesque variety show where we hit anywhere between 20 to 40 cities EVERY THREE MONTHS and I was one of two resident burlesque dancers aka a Headliner. Therefore, there are some things I’ve learned from being in the tour van, sharing hotel rooms or just trying to get to a gig in west bubble fuck, yonkers when I lived deep in Brooklyn off the L line and I need my burlesque bag. (Which I might as as a poler, is very different than my pole dancer bag.)
Also, be aware there are numerous links throughout this post. Not are affiliate links. Its just the stuff I use.
Here Is My Ultimate Burlesque Tour Bag Travel Checklist!
THE BURLESQUE LUGGAGE & BAG(S)
First, you want to invest in travel bags that work for your travel style, budget and space limitations/requirements. Sometimes I travel by plane, train, bus, tour van or by private driver. (I work with a security firm on all my gigs and my retainer includes a driver!) Considering the mode of travel and what you can handle on your own, first think about the luggage itself and whether its for traveling to local gigs or national & international gigs in other cities. My luggage has usually come from a few places… Amazon, Target, Overstock.com or as a Gift I was given or won. (I seriously won three travel bags within a year during some unrelated boudoir photography giveaways). At some point or another you’ll want the following in your arsenal.
- Weekender Bag – I use a Wit&Delight Weekender. Apparently, they are no longer available. I would have gotten the other three pieces to this set, if I had paid attention that it was limited edition. My favorite thing about this is the bottom part which can hold a few pair of shoes and other items, including my thigh high boots for my “A Dominatrix Prepares” signature act. That way its kept separate from other delicate things.
- Carry On Bag – I use the Wit&Delight CarryOn Bag for local gigs. When on tour, I need a slightly larger carryon so that my muggle life stuff can fit too. The wheels on the Wit&Delight bag are 360 and that makes a huge difference in travel ease. Whether you purchase a $10 bag or a $10,000 bag, ensure the wheels are 360. My bag for travel out of state comes via a brand called “Ventura” but I can’t find them anywhere online. Its not the motorcycle one that pops up in google search results. But its amazing and fits everything, though it is bulky.
- Day Bag – Because my day bag doubles as a purse, as well as backpack essentials, my go-to has been my Kelly Moore camera bags due to the style and size. The right ones are designed to fit my laptop or tablet if I travel with them. Or my camera gear, if I travel with that as well. Or my reading books. Or my merch. Plus all of my purse essentials. If I pack it right, one regular quick outfit like a sundress or leggings and tshirt can fit in there too. Besides Kelly Moore, my favorite has been a large black DVF bag gifted to me. After five years of overpacking, a strap finally broke. I love the bag so much, I think I’ll send it in for repairs. Another brand I use is Epiphanie bags too.
- Packing Cubes – Packing Cubes are a life saver. Trust me. It’s the next step up, after you’ve consistently overstuffed a gallon size ziplock bag. I’m able to keep each costume pieces in their own cubes and all of my muggle life clothing fits in its own packing cube. These help you stay organized and makes packing quicker.
- Make Up Storage Bags – I was using all types of random little toiletry bags and ziplock bags until it was just way too much. I waited on a sale at Victoria Secret and invested in a decent set that now holds all of my makeup and other smaller toiletry or kit items.
Once you have your actual luggage and organizers in order, its going to make the rest of your travel life so much easier.
ONSTAGE – Ultimate Burlesque Tour Bag Travel Checklist
I quickly learned that when it came to performing, every act needed its own checklist for its full costume and performance. I keep the checklist online in a cloud, printed in its own packing cube and in my burlesque journal/planner. My checklist even has a tab for notes so that I can list any repairs or changes that need to be made. So, while every burlesque act and corresponding checklist will have its own individual items, in general, your ultimate burlesque tour bag travel checklist, should include the following, if applicable:
- Each Costume for each act you’re performing
- Extra set of Pasties
- Extra set of Stockings, Tights, Thigh/Knee Highs
- Costume Alternatives – There are some cities in which I can start almost as nude as I want, but I can’t physically remove any item of clothing. There are some cities where I can only strip down to a bra and not pasties. Depending on laws or self policing community behavior, I have to consider alternatives to each of my acts. So this usually means, an extra black and/or nude bra.
MY PERFORMANCE ESSENTIALS – Ultimate Burlesque Tour Bag Travel Checklist
The first few things on this list are things NOBODY told me about, but I learned quickly it made all the difference.
- A Transition Dress – This is the dress you put on at the end of the night. Its after your performance and after any after-show things such as pictures, meet&greet and such. This is your transition dress from the burlesque world and back into the everyday real world. I use an oversized, maxi dress from Amazon. Its floor length so that whatever vehicle I’m getting in to go back to my hotel or home in, has a minimum amount of glitter transfer as possible. This transition dress is a part of my burlesque travel uniform, so instead of throwing on my day clothes from before my performance, I put the dress on. When I put my day clothes back on….eventually all of my regular clothes became covered in glitter. I love glitter but I didn’t want everything I owned covered in it. The transition dress also is oversized because its loose fitting and comfy. You’ve been glued and buckled in and tied in and laced up and made up and when its time to leave the venue…sometimes you need something extremely roomy and comfortable. It can still be stylish though. This is mine.
- A Show Outfit – Depending on the event, production or show, there may be Meet&Greets or time during the Pre-show or the actual show when you’ll be in “the house.” “The house” being public areas where audience members may engage you. You’ll want to be dressed appropriately. Usually, it meant a cocktail dress, nightclub dress, or gown found on Amazon for me. Sometimes it wasn’t a dress. It might be a Halloween or character costume, or lingerie. This also works as an outfit for photographs, if you won’t be in your costume.
- Flip Flops – You’ll need them backstage as you dress and undress. There are moments in between when your street shoes come off and your stage shoes come on, where there is nothing under your feet. During that time, you’ll wish you had flip flops.
- A Robe – I recommend having a thick, velour one for comfort and a lacey pretty one for the glamour. Both of mine came from Charlotte Russe.
- Baby Oil Gel – My partner put me on to this! I want to shine on stage and I need my glitter to stick and I’ve now found the perfect product for that that’s the right shine and thickness. My favorite scent is the lavender one. And often times its found in the baby aisle, versus the toiletry aisle.
- Nude G-String – You just never know. (I’ll be doing a post later on my favorite nude brands, especially for women of color! I was determined to find my shade since I made it essential for one of my costumes.)
- Sweat Pants – There’s a moment that happens when you arrive at the venue whether it be a theater, lounge, fetish event or concert hall. And you have time before your performance. Like time before the house even opens. Especially if its a production company and there are techs or rehearsal times. You’re not gonna want to be in those moments in jeans or a tight fitted skirt or your usualy everyday street clothes. Yoga pants might seem like the way to go, but sweatpants give you room to be comfortable. You could also have dance wear…because essentially this is what you wear during warm-up and stretching and tech, before a performance. So dancewear is an option. Or Leggings and leg warmers. I’ve just learned the simple and most comfortable solution are sweatpants. Sometimes I arrive in this or its in my bag to change into.
- Plastic Sheets – This seems random. But you know the plastic sheets that cover your clothes when you pick them up from dry cleaning? I collect those. And I travel with about three of them at any given moment. Sometimes on the road or right before a show, I need to fix a costume, or add some gems to a prop or create something new while on the go. Because it involves glitter and glue and gems and little parts and can get messy, I find it easier to cover my surface with these plastic sheets. They also work for standing on when in dressing rooms and you don’t want to stand directly on the floor.
- Wig Tape – I use these for making my pasties stick and its everything. I have yet to use them for my wigs but probably could stand to learn!
- Fabric Tape – I also use these for making my pasties stick. This is heavy duty and not its intended use but it works. And sometimes the pain of removal is worth it. (I learned a year into ripping fabric tape off my areola, that coconut oil can help make it less painful.)
BACKSTAGE – Ultimate Burlesque Tour Bag Travel Checklist
- Glitter Kit – I keep travel size portions of about ten shades of loose glitter in my tour bag. I bought it at Michaels. But I’m really a glitter whore so I travel with excessive amounts of glitter. Literally excessive amounts.
- Makeup Kit – I’ll eventually share every individual item in my makeup kit in an easy list. However, the items will vary per performer. Mine include primer, foundation, powder, concealer, contour stuff, blush, eyeshadows, lipstick, eyeliner, eyebrow stuff, brushes, sponges and more.
- Fake Lashes and Lash Glue – Trust me, you need them. I don’t have a preferred brand at the moment
- Sewing Kit – I’ll eventually share everything in my kit. It includes needles, thread, safety pins, pins, and fasteners.
- Crafting Kit – This kit includes at least three brand of glues, a pair of all-purpose scissors, a hot glue gun, a small bottle of Mod Podge, Velcro circle stickers and a few other things I usually need in conjunction with my Sewing Kit to create or fix each costume and props.
- First Aid Kit – A travel size one will due. Add medicine like Tylenol or something, if it doesn’t have it.
- Costume Kit – I keep small packs of gems, fringe, fabric or anything I need for each costume in their own little containers. What happens if a bunch of stones pop off or I rip something or need to create a whole new pair of pasties minutes before I go on?
- Toiletry Kit – I keep makeup remover wipes, tampons, a menstrual cup, tide stick, febreeze spray, mouthwash, peppermints, hand wipes & sanitizer, performance perfume, deodorant, bobby pins, hair ties, baby wipes, extra contacts, hair spray, wig spray and more.
- Marketing Paraphanilia – Depending on the show or the day I keep business cards, postcards, or merchandise in my tour bag.
- Burlesque Journal/Planner – Because ideas strike at any time or I need to write notes down or I never know who I’m going to meet on the road and what I need to plan for.
- (Hot/Cold) Water bottle
- Your Favorite Flavor Tea Bag – Teais good for your health. Its good for wellness. And I use it as part of my mindful self-care rituals when on the road. So ensuring I consistently have the one I prefer matters versus just buying tea at any store on any given day.
- Snacks – A granola bag, gum and a piece of fruit, at the least. I usually always have candy, sunflower seeds, caramel, and a small salad.
- Hot Sauce – Don’t leave shit up to chance and have the wrong brand.
- Leisure Reading Book – Because sometimes you have some time and you don’t want to listen to another trap song on Spotify.
OFFSTAGE – Ultimate Burlesque Tour Bag Travel Checklist
- Regular Muggle Clothes – developing a travel uniform made my life so much easier. More on that later.
- Swimsuit – A lot of hotels have pools or depending on the city, someone from the show knows someone who has the best hot tub in town.
- Earplugs – At any time, you may want to drown people out. Sometimes in the tour van or sometimes backstage when there’s so much noise, I just wanted as much silence as possible. Earplugs helped with that.
- Headphones – Sometimes, the best thing to do was to put my headphones in, turn a playlist on and get in my zone.
- Eye Mask – Because someone will have a light on that you wish was off, sun included.
EXTRA – Ultimate Burlesque Tour Bag Travel Checklist
If the venue, show, event or situation allows for it and my performance requires it, I also travel with the following:
- Tricked Out Chair – Some of my routines use chairs. It became easier for me to have consistency and travel with my own chair. Plus it meant I could trick it out.
- Fog Machine – Scenography is important but unless its an established burlesque show with a full production team, there isn’t much of a set. And if you’re touring as a solo performer or within a guerilla-style traveling production company, you can’t really travel with set pieces and large props. One way to dynamically add drama and texture to your performances is via a fog machine.
- Stage Lights – Most often I’m performing for a show at theaters or concert venues. However, sometimes I’m commissioned for private events that are taking place at venues not normally suited for performance. On the rare occasion that happens, I have a few stage lights that I bring. Production quality matters!
HONORABLE MENTIONS – Ultimate Burlesque Tour Bag Travel Checklist
I created my list from my own experiences and as I’m unpacking from two recent performances and getting ready to pack for another. Next, I googled around to see what others were saying. If a site/article is listed below its because they had a few things on their list that I forgot about or hadn’t thought of before.
- Backup of Music via Burlesque Essentials by Miss Charlotte Cake – OMG. Yes. Have it in different formats too!
- Packing It Up Burlesque via Cake and Hot Tease. This list included the reasons for why items were packed and how they were packed.
- Coat. Compact Umbrella. Flats. Sunblock and Medicine Kit. Those are obvious things that I either forgot to list or never even thought to include. That and more can be found in this lovely interview from Traveling Tips with Evie Lovelle by the Hollywood Burlesque Festival.
- Sexy Lingerie for photoshoots or …you know. Also, Multiway Plug via Ten Things to Take On a Burlesque World Tour. Gotta think international. Plus, I did know one burlesque dancer who had pre-scheduled a photoshoot in almost every city we were on during the tour. I wish I had had the forethought to do that. Oh well.
- Mirror via Burlesque Suitcase Packing Checklist by Tigz Rice. There’s some other goodies on her list too. But geez, a mirror matters. I have a travel size one for out of state gigs. And if it’s within my state and I have a driver via my security firm and the venue isn’t a regular performance venue…I definitely travel with a $5 full-length mirror from Wal-mart. (Again this is the rare gig type. At the very least when hired to perform, it should be at a professional venue that has appropriate dressing rooms. That’s just a basic given. But…..but sometimes you get commissioned for a themed party and they are paying you the right number and the venue is some random lounge but you get to do things your way….so you take the gig and there isn’t a regular dressing room. In those cases, I bring a full-length mirror. Was that TMI?)
- Band Aid, Razor, Nail Polish Remover Wipes and via Showgirl Survival | The Handy Travel Checklist You Need! by Miss Grace Cherry
- This entire blog was awesome –> via Packing Light on PinCurl Magazine