In two days, I’m leaving for the International Miami Zouk Festival. I’ve already packed, but I know several people who are tearing their hair our trying to figure out how to pack for the weekend. I’ve done this too, and found myself overpacked. Now that airlines frequently charge $25 per direction for a checked bag, knowing how to pack well can be key to a) saving money and b) not being short of something you need. Here’s my guide for ‘how to pack’:

Step 1: Check the event website.

I mean it. Don’t trust Facebook. Check the website. Do you REALLY want to be the person who didn’t realize there was a theme every night of the congress? What about the ONLY person who didn’t get the memo about the pool party?  JUST DO IT.

Pay special attention to:

  • Party themes/dress codes
  • Special events (pool parties, foam parties, etc.)
  • # of workshop/party days
  • WEATHER!!!

Step 2: Make a list.

Here’s mine for Miami:


  • Makeup and hair stuff
  • Toothbrush, hairbrush, toothpaste, DEODORANT (deserve their own special mention)
  • Pajamas (Especially important to remember if you normally sleep naked.)
  • **DANCE SHOES** that are not ready to die (You NEVER have a guarantee that the event sells shoes. Things happen!)
  • For ladies: Check your cycle. Just do it. You may need, you may not.
  • Underwear: bring 2 per day there
  • An athletic sweater. Always. You never know how air conditioned it will be.
  • Socks
  • Band-aids
  • Ladies: booty shorts. Always. Always. ALWAYS.
  • Camera and/or cell
  • USB Key


  • Consider weather transitions: I personally will wear long leg warmers under a dress so I can transition from -30 to +30 temperatures at this time of year, with comfy flats.
  • Wear your bulkiest packed sweater on the plane
  • Travel pillow, iPod, and anything else you need to keep you entertained
  • Passport, money, registration documents, hotel reservations
  • Food. Never, ever underestimate food. More about this later.


I am going to be there for 2 full days of workshops (including 1 that I am teaching).

  • “Zouk Eh” and “dZouk” shirts for during workshop days.
  • 2 spare workshop tee’s (1 per day)
  • 1 pair each: Long pants, capri’s, shorts. You never know how cold it will be.
  • I already have my leg warmers from travelling, and my sweater in essentials
  • Sports bras


Miami has themes all 3 nights. I pre-pick my outfits, and then have one alternative top and/or bottom in case I get sweaty or want to get more comfy in the evening. Some events have themes. The themes this time are: Lingerie/PJ, Great Gatsby Gala, and Pirate/Gypsy.

Always put your whole party outfit together when packing.
Always try it on first to make sure you can actually dance in it and are comfy.
Always bring a backup that you can switch into if something goes wrong.

  • “Lingerie” outfit + spare top
  • “Great Gatsby” outfit
  • “Pirate” outfit
  • Ensure shoes are appropriate for each night of dancing
  • I am using my backup workshop attire as my backup evening attire (double duty – yeah!)

Special Items/Events:

In this case: Beach!!! Pool!!! Warm Weather!!!

But really, it can be anything, even down to sightseeing in a foreign city. Maybe you want to make a daytime excursion. Just be prepared!

  • 2x Bikinis
  • Flip flops
  • Beach cover-up


Are you performing or competing? Whether it’s a costumed performance or a plain-clothes competition or demo, pick what you want to wear ahead of time. In my case, I may or may not compete, but will do so in either my workshop or party attire. I am, however, performing twice.

Always double check that you have all your performance gear – from shoes, to the correct underwear, safety pins, and anything else you may possibly need. Do you have body glitter if you need it? That one weird neon blue eyeshadow? Your hair curler? I prefer keeping all of my performance stuff in one bag together. The one time I didn’t ended in disaster.

Need the venue to supply props? Ask in advance. Is it choreographed to music? Always submit or clarify about music before you get to the event. 

  • Performance 1: Shoes, costume, x2 props, strapless bra, suitable underwear
  • Performance 2: Shoes, costume (top, bottom, bodysuit), nude bra, suitable underwear


Taking a private with a pro? Bring exact cash in the currency they want. Bring a notepad and camera. Bring a pencil or pen.

Packing Tips:

  • Roll any clothes you can. It takes up less room than folding, and can often make things less wrinkly.
  • Try to avoid bringing heavy items – and weigh your suitcase before you go to make sure it’s under the airline’s weight
  • Have items that are in boxes or have ‘air’ surrounding them? Fill them with small items, like underwear.
  • Keep critical items (*coughcostumes/shoescough*) with you in carry-on.
  • I keep toiletries and small, heavy items in my purse, since they’re generally heavier and will weigh down the carry-on.

What About Food?

If I am travelling by car, I always prepare my shelf-stable food for the weekend. Some people bring electric coolers. I almost never have to eat out, and usually less prepared people steal my food because they get hungry. If you are travelling by plane, your options are more limited both by border control and by space. My first priority is packing enough food to get me *to* my destination. If travelling internationally, pre-packaged, unopened foods are your best bet until through security.

If I can, I try to get to a grocery store in the new locale if I can’t bring food. This isn’t always possible. I usually have easy, quick, and shelf-stable snacks so that, in worst case, I only have to buy food for major meals. Energy bars, chips, fruit leathers, some fruits or nuts (if not crossing borders), etc. are all great options.

Leave your travel and packing tips for other dancers in the comments, and share on Facebook!

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