Creature Comforts on the Road

Since returning to freelancing three years ago, I've primarily worked out of town. Over time, I've collected a variety of standard things I take with me, to help my place feel more "home-y." Some are things that were suggested to me by other theatre friends, others are things I've come to like on my own. I thought I'd share a few with you. If I'm only gone two weeks, I take less...mostly. The last two jobs have been ten and seven weeks long, though, and for each job I sort through some "on the road" boxes at home to decide what I might want for a particular gig.

First and foremost, provided housing can be sterile and impersonal...and often physically hard. It's a lot easier to clean things with wipeable surfaces and less padding, I understand. To help me relax, I pack a light fuzzy blanket, a "Housing Sweet Housing" pillow cover my mother made me, and of course, Eeyore.

I also pack at least one fuzzy fleece (regardless of the time of year) and a pair of slippers. Early on, a friend recommended I get a lightweight bathrobe that could double as a jacket, and I have definitely appreciated it. I also ALWAYS pack a swimsuit, regardless of if I know I'll use it.

For familiarity, I pack a photo of my husband, along with a card he's sent me in the past, as well as a small hand-turned wood goblet my father made. I don't like to sleep with my wedding ring on, so it always goes in this cup on the nightstand, whether I'm home or on the road. I'll also try to buy a potted plant early in my time there - the more colorful the better. If it dies within a few weeks, oh well - it was likely the same price as cut flowers. If it survives, it can make a nice gift to a local co-worker.

Depending on my kitchen facilties, I have a box of items to sort through before leaving home. When I work an Equity gig, we are guaranteed to have (exactly) 4 plates, a colander, salt and and pepper, and a few other basics. Some items I tend to pack are:

  • Vegetable Steamer
  • Vegetable Peeler
  • This OXO 3-Blade Spiralizer - very portable and makes eating vegetables fun
  • Waiter's Corkscrew and Wine Stopper
  • Wine Aerator (can make the lowest budget wines taste so much better!)
  • This colorful cutting board - my ASM and I spotted them this summer and knew we had to add to our collections

If you are provided a cutting board at all in housing, it's usually small. This one is a great size AND when it's time to pack up, I'm sure to remember that it's mine!

  • Beer and/or Can Koozy
  • Oven Mitt(s)
  • Sharp Knife
  • Tupperware or similar Glassware with a cover; I also went in with an actress on a set of three glass bowls with lids several years ago - the one I received often travels with me, and I've used the lid as a small microwaveable plate as well
  • If it's not an Equity gig (opera or ballet, for instance), I may pack a travel picnic case I have with service for four
  • This trip I'm trying a new idea, using a Dollar Tree pill container for my spices.

I think next trip I'll add a second set of these containers. I also have a tiny honey bear from a previous trip.

  • If I drive, I've been known to bring a Crockpot as well as an Ice Cream Maker...especially for summer stock
  • Cleaning Items - I try to pack small/travel size versions of:
    • Dish Soap
    • Clorox Wipes
    • Bottle Brush
    • Laundry Detergent Pods (much easier to pack than liquid, and I don't usually need an entire new bag each gig)
    • A handful of trashbags on the chance they're not provided

Other items to help my stay include:

  • Hangars (there are never enough...also a much-appreciated suggestion from a friend)
  • A craft project or two - my current ones lately vary between a handful of jewelry making supplies, colored pencils, and my knife and mat for Scherenschnitte; I know others who take knitting or crocheting
  • Multiple phone charging cables - long ones especially for housing when the outlets are often not handy
  • Multiplug outlet strip
  • Roku Express+ - the "plus" can work with old TVs as well as HDMI; as for Channels, in addition to Netflix, I pay for CBS All Access, can access extra content through my home account's cable login, and I love that I can catch my favorite Denver newscaster on Next with Kyle Clark including via live feed when the timing works out. Unfortunately, I did come across one hotel that had removed HDMI plug in options, so it doesn't always work.
  • Target's Up & Up TSA Compliant Liquids Bag - I actually combined the bottles from two sets, and in addition to normal items, one has my spray OxiClean for laundry; I also packed two each of shampoo and mouthwash - three weeks in (of seven) I think I'm going to be just fine on the amount I packed

  • Foldable/Pop-Up Laundry Basket and Lingerie Bags
  • Reusable shopping bags
  • Booklight - whether it's for housing or to read my script/score, I travel with a light source - usually one of the following:
    • Littlite Gooseneck (dimmable, with Base) for calling a show, which can double as bedside light
    • Mighty Bright is my go-to brand for battery operated book lights, with two brightness settings (either "bug lights" or the orchestra version for wide pages)
  • My various Tile fobs/devices - I rely on them in every day life, but especially when I don't have a set place to lay down my keys when on the road; I can also often check on my luggage during layovers, as the Bluetooth has worked from cargo on many occasions
  • Broncos gear if it's football season (I'm currently in Patriots territory, so I'm wary); Eeyore has his own set, and my crafty mother also made me a banner when I was out of town during the 2015 Super Bowl, which we won...

Eeyore's ready for some football! (Too bad we're in Patriots territory and have to resort to internet radio broadcast most of the time.)

I rely on theatres to supply needed stage management supplies, but there are select items that I like to have my own version along (and if they'll restock, even better). I received this fantastic travel SM Kit from my assistant stage manager Maggie this summer, and I have a variety of things in it for my own use. I'm still playing around with what stores where, but I adore having just the right amount of things in an easy to pack container.

Travel Stage Management Kit for the win!

So many choices of pockets inside!

In addition to the matching cutting boards mentioned previously, Maggie and I also both have:

  • Swingline High-Capacity Three-Hole Punch - after two different gigs where I eliminated the punch due to last-minute weight issues, and swore "never again," this will now ALWAYS travel with me
  • Wiztem Rosemary Book Stand (Thanks, Maggie, for already having researched the best options for max size versus weight!)
  • Our own Headsets; I have both the Telex PH-88 and the Clearcom CC-27 - I wish the latter was made for right ears, as well as for those of us with smaller heads
  • We also both have travel Steamers for clothing wrinkles; she brings hers along much more than I do

If I drive, I bring my guitar. If I'm out of town, I've often found someone has one I can borrow. Most of my music is on my computer, and I may pack a tuner and capo if I think a local one will happen. Like this trip!

I also highly recommend the Roadside America website and app for finding fun places as you journey. Eeyore gets many of his fun photos from locations we discover through it.

Eeyore at Equality House - Topeka, Kansas

Make Way for Ducklings - Boston Common

Make Way for Ducklings - Boston Common...with a new duckling!

I think I'll save specific stage management items for a separate future blog post. Meanwhile, what do you like to take with you when out of town?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *