For all of you that are going to be traveling to Steamcon, I thought I’d write up some thoughts about packing and such, especially in regards to steampunk gear. A small aside, “garb” is the term used by the SCA, so I tend to call my steampunk costumery “gear” to differentiate it. Hat, props, goggles, boots, corsets and more! Steampunk gear is complicated and fussy. Here are some things that have worked and not worked for me in the past.
The biggest hurdle of course is props. Weapons are especially difficult. The more realistic, the harder they are to get to your destination safely. TSA is a very suspicious organization, and probably with good reason. I recommend not trying to transport anything that was ever an actual weapon. They have no sense of humor and you may lose it. So shell casings, even as decoration are a bad idea these days.
When I need to get large props to a show, I often will ship a box or two to my hotel. This can be costly, and you are risking shipping damage, but sometimes it’s the only way to ensure things get to your destination. Be aware, finding a FedEx office outside the hotel will save you quite a lot of money. Hotels add on a lot of fees.
It worked very well for many years and then I had disaster strike. One of my three boxes didn’t show up after a show in Detroit. The identical one that did arrive, was quit damaged and it lead me to wonder if the other one had been even more damaged or destroyed. I made a huge effort to track it down, but to no avail. Long story short, about a year and a half later I got it back, mostly unharmed. It does make me very wary these days.
One idea that I have found works well is to have a sturdy hatbox with a handle as a carry-on. I put two hats nestled into each other and another tiny hat in them. I add compasses, widgets and jewelry to the center if there is room. Then I wrap the interior of the box with belts, goggles and such and then add a layer of squishable clothing. TSA is likely to want to inspect anything that looks suspicious, but at least you can be there to supervise. The last time my hatbox went through security I got a big grin from the handsome TSA agent, who then told me it was the “most interesting” assortment of things he had ever seen go through his scanner. I wish I had had a Steamcon flyer to give him.
If you have a hat that won’t fit, simply wear it. You will be able to store it overhead once you get settled and they never count it as a carryon.
Parasols and corsets are a bit problematic. They can potentially read as dangerous metal or knives, so having them in a carry may not be the best idea. It can be a risk to put them in checked luggage, but it will generally work better. Putting a parasol in a large mailing tube and carrying it on can work as well. You may need to pull it out for inspection. Art supply stores have tubes with handles already attached or you can fashion one yourself.
For most clothing, my husband and I have nice hanging bag that folds up. It is very handy to just pull everything out and hang it up when we reach the hotel.
I’m sure I’ve missed some tips, but Steamcon is about a week away, so my brain is well pummeled mush at this point. I am so looking forward to seeing all the fabulous costumes that you all have created and sharing my own new creations. It should be a marvelous time. See you there!