The Absolute Best Travel Gear, According to Burlesque Stars

Traveling is a messy game. No matter how many times you laid out your ‘fits beforehand or how carefully you rolled-and-tucked before lovingly packing your things away, everything gets tossed around by the time you reach your destination. Then, once you’re there, you’re faced with unpacking entirely, or endlessly rummaging around for the top you’re sure you packed. But staying organized on the road gets even more difficult when you add fragile feather boas, one-of-a-kind props, custom sequined costumes, and all manner of tasseled pasties to the mix, as every showgirl knows. For the latest installment Unexpected Expert, we spoke with five burlesque stars about their must-haves for keeping your life—and, as importantly, your accessories—together, even while you’re on the move.

Dolly Debutante

dolly debutante, burlesque stars

Matthew Weinberger

“Packing for a trip is something so many of us absolutely dread. The anxiety of deciding what to bring and how to store it causes travelers to postpone packing until the absolute last minute. My years in burlesque taught me so much about storing glamorous things efficiently, so much so that I started my own business, Dolly Organizing, where I assist all of my fabulous frequent flier clients. I always tell them to use their suitcase as storage space between trips. Your passport, travel toiletries, and even swimsuits can live in there while it’s on the top shelf of your hall closet. Then, when you pull down your suitcase to pack, you’re not searching.”

“My number one pick for traveling showgirls and other jet-setting babes is packing cubes—containers that go inside your suitcase. I love this set by Light Flight, it’s shiny and comes in my favorite color: pink. The large cube works great for gowns, and the smaller cubes are perfect for storing smaller items like lingerie. Also, they’re compressible, which is a great space saver when you inevitably return with more than you brought.”

Light Flight Compression Packing Cubes

Compression Packing Cubes

Light Flight Compression Packing Cubes

Calamity Chang

calamity change, burlesque dancers

Michael Webb

“I usually find these hanging toiletry bags at Marshalls or T.J. Maxx—there are lots of styles and colors. I love the compartmentalization of the caddies. They help organize my cleansers and other essentials like cotton pads, shower caps, and more. Plus, when I’m done, I just hang it up and it’s all out of the way, which is especially useful when I’m staying at a friend’s house so my stuff isn’t a smorgasbord spread all over their bathroom.”

Masirs Hanging Travel Cosmetic Bag Organizer

Hanging Travel Cosmetic Bag Organizer

Masirs Hanging Travel Cosmetic Bag Organizer

Jessabelle Thunder

jessabelle thunder, burlesque stars

Jill Mercy

“Hi, I’m Jessabelle Thunder, and I’m an overpacker! No matter if I’m going overseas or somewhere within the States, I have to have backup options alongside a suitcase already full of costume pieces. These Ziploc Space Bag Vacuum Sealed Storage Bags have been such a game changer. They let me pack an immense amount of clothing and costumes while still allowing space for other things in my suitcase. All you do is stuff the bag to the fill line then attach a vacuum with a nozzle attachment and—BAM!— everything gets compressed down and made fairly flat. It’s always amazing to me just how much I can continue to overstuff these bags and still have room. Fun traveling showgirl fact: I can even put my most fluffy costumes in the vacuum bags and shrink the bag down, and when it’s time to open it, my costumes still retain their fluffiness. No longer will your tulle or feathers be damaged by other items in your suitcase. Trust me when I say these will change the way you pack.”

Ziploc Vacuum Sealer Storage Bags

Vacuum Sealer Storage Bags

Ziploc Vacuum Sealer Storage Bags

Miss Dirty Martini

miss dirty martini, burlesque star

Photographer Steven Menendez

“The life of a burlesque star requires a bit of a different approach when it comes to travel. I always balance the necessities—you know, feather boas, 10 pounds of makeup, and a ball gown—with extraneous items like laundry bags and socks. For me, separating these bits and pieces in my suitcase is a must. The traveling gal is always balancing baggage fees and ‘must haves’ while keeping my costumes organized and my baggage underweight, so my hard-sided travel trunk has become essential for a successful trip. Mine is a clamshell-style Rimowa. One side is dedicated to delicate, easily crushed items like puppets, boas, gowns, and feather fans. They are nestled in like a glamorous bird’s nest; no feathers will be broken or tossed. Everything travels in a separate, soft bag to keep Homeland Security from inadvertently damaging a one-of-a-kind prop. Searches happen all the time, and glamour girls must be prepared to defend their dainties!”

“The other side of the luggage clam has makeup and hair essentials, rhinestone high-heeled stilettos, and every exciting bra and pastie curled together for dear life. Now, if you are a real travel pro, you can get your everyday items like rehearsal togs, gym shoes, and the ever-growing laundry bag into a carry-on. In case my tour is longer, an extra suitcase may be required, so you can sashay with those waist-high trunks and roll into the airport like a boss.”

Rimowa Original Trunk Plus Suitcase

Original Trunk Plus Suitcase

Rimowa Original Trunk Plus Suitcase

The Maine Attraction

the maine attraction, burlesque stars

Joe Carabeo

“When I’m traveling, I always try to prepare for the unexpected, spontaneous, and ‘what if?’ moments. I’m also at times a little clumsy. You never know when something will need a quick wash and dry. Maybe you had an unexpected spill or you’ve extended your trip and don’t have easy access to laundry. Whatever the reason, a small folding portable drying rack is a handy tool to have on hand. This one is my favorite. It comes with 12 clips and a 360-degree rotatable hook so you can hang it just about anywhere. When I’m really in a hurry, I’ll use a blow dryer to speed up the drying process.”

Foshine Clothes Drying Rack

Clothes Drying Rack

Foshine Clothes Drying Rack


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