Even if you only perform in your city/state, you may find this article useful.
I have to catch a plane to most of my shows.
Anyone who flies often, can share horror stories of airline experiences. If they can’t, they don’t fly often enough!
Let’s start with the delay.
Flight delays pop up all the time. Some airlines are more prone to this, but they all experience problems from time to time.
Foul weather in one part of the country can screw up your flight even if your weather is perfect. The plane can’t get from there to you. And you end up waiting in the airport.
I once spent six hours sitting in Denver due to a delay. When I finally got to Chicago, I discovered the flight they transferred me to for the trip home cancelled. The next flight was 8 hours away. That was a LONG freaking travel day!
So my personal number one rule is I always fly in a day in advance.
This way, if there is a delay I have time to find an alternate way of getting there. If I do arrive early, I get time to rest and acclimate to any time differences.
Clients usually have no problem with an extra night of lodging. They feel secure by this “benefit” too.
Traveling with your props.
I have credit cards.
If my checked luggage goes missing, I can go to the store and buy clothes, toiletries and something to wear onstage.
But I can’t go buy my puppets just anywhere.
So the show MUST go on the plane with me.
To that end, I bought a Porter Case.
Don’t go looking, they are difficult to find because they aren’t made anymore. The company went out of business.
But I’m not here to tell you about something you can’t buy – I am going to share my experience with one.
The Porter Case was a hard sided carry-on luggage. The retractable handle could separate from the top. At luggage claim, the case turned into a dolly my checked luggage sat on. This allowed me to easily manuever around the airport without help.
My 45 minute act fit in that case. I loved it, and have for the last 14 years.
Fast forward to January of this year.
One of my clients wanted to order and pay for my tickets.
Rule Number 2 – I never allow a client to book my travel again.
To save money, he purchased the cheapest tickets he could find. I understand that. The problem was, these tickets were also the last to board the plane.
As I was preparing to board, the gate attendant announced all late boarders had to gate check their bags. The gate check is not so bad. They take it at the end of the entryway and it goes under the plane. When you land, they pull these bags off and you get it as you exit the plane.
So it will arrive. And I had no choice.
The gate check didn’t seem to cause a problem, but it did. One of the wheels on my Porter Case cracked. It wasn’t a huge crack, but I noticed it.
On the flight home, the same announcement was made.
With this flight, they weren’t gate checking baggage though. You would retrieve them a luggage claim when you reached your destination.
Again, I had no choice. (14 years of flying and this had never happened!) The case went under the plane.
Luckily, it arrived back in Baltimore. And if it hadn’t, I do have back ups. But I was damn nervous about it.
The real kicker was the wheel had crumbled from the cracked area.
And I couldn’t order a new one because they no longer make that case! I’m still searching for replacements.
I ordered Sugru Molding Glue and am trying to fix it.
I’ll let you know how that works at some point in the future.
But for the time being, I am without my Porter Case.
So I started looking around.
What I found was a Tortuga Backpack.
I bought the 35L version which was about $290 after shipping and taxes. Why did I spend that much on a backpack?
First, it fits airline requirements. No one was checking back packs. Airlines must think they can be scrunched up – and in fact they will fit under most seats!
My equipment will fit in the case – as will everything that was in my personal carry-on backpack.
So I go from two bags to one – and I can walk it onboard.
What if I can’t? I did mention rule #2 – I buy my own tickets and I make sure to get priority boarding!
The problem comes with the fact this backpack case isn’t sturdy enough to be used onstage like my Porter Case was.
So how do I solve that?
I’ll share more in a future blog!
Note: I am in no way affiliated with Sugru or Tortuga Backpacks. I mention and provide those links because I use their products.