Career Advice

11 Top Travel Tips from Touring Pros

Packing cubes, emergency dance clothes and a bathing suit become essentials on the road. Photo by Keith Chan/Unsplash

Touring as a dancer can be the opportunity of a lifetime. But day-to-day life on the road doesn't always come easily.

Four dancers with experience on equity, non-equity, commercial and concert dance tours shared their travel tips and insider perspectives with Dance Magazine.

Daniela Filipone

Daniela Filippone has been on tour with Phantom of the Opera for a year and a half.

What She Can't Go on Tour Without:

Packing cubes and a to-go coffee mug. "The packing cubes really help organizing clothes between seasons. And who doesn't need coffee?"

How She Stays Healthy on the Road:

Fillipone loves to check out the places locals frequent, avoiding franchises at all costs. "I also try to find vegetarian places, juice bars, and a good source of vegetables."

Ebony Williams

Williams always packs three pairs of pointe shoes. Photo by @photography_by_kap via Instagram

Ebony Williams has touring experience both in concert dance with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and commercially with Beyoncé, including, most recently, The Formation World Tour.

How She Packs for a World Tour:

William only packs street clothes for five days, with warm and cold weather options. "On tour you're mostly working, so what I mostly pack is dance clothes," she says. She gives emergency toiletries, dance clothes and makeup to the production staff in case something goes wrong with her luggage.

Pro tip: Be prepared for galas, advises Williams. "Pack a more dressy option, because you may want to take part in whatever celebrations come up."

What She Can't Leave Home Without:

"A body roller, oil for my hair—stage lights dry out my natural hair—and three pairs of pointe shoes." Even when on the road with Beyoncé, Williams has been asked to do pointe work. Plus, she doesn't want to lose her technique. She always makes sure one pair has rubber on them because commercial performance spaces aren't always ideal surfaces for pointe work.

How She Stays Healthy on the Road:

Williams has a secret: peanut butter and jelly! She shops for fresh peanut butter to supply her body with protein, and pairs it with bananas, apples, celery, carrots or preserves. She also throws almonds and cashews in her bag to get through busy days.

How She Manages Travel Stress:

Williams does something to center herself every day, even if that's only taking deep breaths and touching her toes. But she prefers some sort of yoga or Pilates. "Mental health is the key to maintaining yourself on an extended tour," says Williams. "The stress of the day can be real."

Michael Jackson Jr.

Michael Jackson Jr. in Kyle Abraham's Untitled America. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy AADT

With experience on international and national tours with Philadanco, Michael Jackson Jr. is currently performing with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, a company known for constantly being on the road.

The Most Surprising Part of Touring:

The toll that traveling takes on your body. "I am six feet with extremely long arms, and in planes and buses it's quite difficult to find comfort," he says. "Baths and massages are a must-have necessity."

What He Can't Leave Home Without:

"I always keep pictures with me of my family. I have them in my phone but it's something about a tangible picture that helps the memory and feeling of love."

Andrew Metzgar

Andrew Metzgar has been on the US tour of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and, most recently, Bullets Over Broadway.

What He Can't Leave Home Without:

"I bought a portable luggage scale in Duane Reade for about $20 six years ago and it still keeps me in check!" says Metzgar.

He also brings a set of silverware in his suitcase. "You never know when that take-out won't have a fork included!"

How He Prepares for Different Seasons:

"Layering. Layering. Layering. Only pack one large jacket and carry it with you," says Metzgar. "Also, don't forget to pack at least one swim suit for that hotel pool or, if you're lucky, those beach days."

His Advice for Dancers on Their First Tour:

Although the show obviously takes top priority, Metzgar reminds dancers to not forget that they probably chose this job because it gave them a chance to travel. "Try something local or explore with any free time that you have. More often than not, the smaller cities are more interesting and have more hidden gems than the larger, more well-known theater markets. Go out and see what these cities have to offer!"

What are your best travel tips? Share in the comments.

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