The Costume Counselor: Packing it all up

Congratulations! You’ve finished making your costume and you’re ready for a convention but now you’ve got another problem: how are you going to get it there? If you’re wearing only one costume to a convention or if your costumes are fairly simple and will fold up nicely, this won’t be an issue. Things get more challenging when you’re trying to pack six or seven costumes and some normal clothes into a suitcase that’s under the airline weight limit. (That’s step 1, by the way: Make sure that your costume line up for a convention is actually something you can fit into a suitcase and transport to a convention.)

Like almost every other cosplay thing, this is something where you want to start early. The ‘haphazardly throw everything in a suitcase five hours before your flight’ method may seem like a good idea but you are almost guaranteed to forget something. One of my friends is the Queen of this. I usually start making my packing list two weeks in advanced. Every single costume has every single component listed out and I even note which pieces are used for multiple costumes. I also write out everything else I’m bringing to the convention from normal clothes to make up to snacks. For Dragon Con, this usually results in a list that’s three to four pages long when I print it.

If you’re attending a convention and wearing multiple costumes, see what pieces you can wear with more than one costume to save space. Shoes and props are the best way to do this. If you can wear a pair for boots for two costumes and be happy with it, do so. Folding and packing everything strategically can also help with space. This may take a few tries. If you have to fly with something that just takes up a lot of space but that can be squished down, consider vacuum storage bags. The only problem may be getting the bags re-squished when you make your way back. When you have more fragile items, use your other clothes to cushion them when you can instead of having to take up precious space with packing materials. (Obviously this won’t always be an option.) On a similar note, if there’s something you don’t want wrinkled, leave it on top, pack it at the very last minute, and take it out as soon as you get to the hotel.

For flying, be strategic about how you use your allotted checked bag and carry on items. Do you have a jacket for your cosplay? Wear it on the plane to keep warm! Large dresses can be zipped into garment bags and carried on the flight with you. (Just nod and smile if the flight attendant asks if it’s a wedding dress.) My current plan for getting my Seventh Sister helmet to Dragon Con is to pack it carefully into a box and have it be my personal item. Please be cognizant of what you’re packing when you fly because you do not want to lose costume parts to the TSA. For any prop weapons, I always pack them into a bag, make sure they aren’t in the middle of the suitcase, and clearly label that they are props. Blasters and fake guns never go in your carry on. If you’re unsure if something can fly, check out the TSA’s website.

While driving can make transporting costumes a heck of a lot easier, I will always suggest that you try and still pack more compact. More likely than not, you’re sharing a hotel room with three or four other people and you’ll all have luggage. Costumes take up space and so do people. You don’t want to be that person who takes up the entire room.

I’ll admit that this was definitely one of the trickier posts to write for this series because I’m just so used to doing this by now that I can fit three costumes, normal clothes, and all my extras into a carry on suitcase without even breaking a sweat. If any of you have any questions or want suggestions, leave comment or ask on Twitter and I’m more than happy to answer! Heck, I’ll even share one of my packing lists with you as an example if you need it.

Have a subject you want to see The Costume Counselor cover? Let me know and we’ll add it to the list!

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