I love travelling for burlesque. Connecting with other communities and performers, the chance to run away and have a mini vacation stuck in the glitter-filled world, performing for new audiences... It's all so exciting! I am still new when it comes to travelling, despite performing away from my home city often enough. Unfortunately, with all the travel, it adds up quick. I’ve already talked about burlesque and saving money in a pricey industry before, now let’s get down to travel!
I know it's easy to fall down the rabbit hole and apply to every festival or decide last minute to attend Burlycon or the Burlesque Hall of Fame... but it all adds up. Try to organize which festivals or shows you are going to apply to as far in advance as possible and make sure that you are following those festivals on social media. Sometimes festivals will have discounted early bird applications before they go to full price. And especially with Burlycon and the Burlesque Hall of Fame, there are many perks and early bird prices for members and people who prepare early. I often start planning a year in advance whether I’ll attend Burlycon or the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender so I have time to save money and can take advantage of discounted tickets and hotel prices.
Sometimes when travelling to perform, producers will offer honorariums or stipends. A lot of this will depend whether you’re performing in a festival, being invited to perform, applied to the show, or a lot of other possibilities. Producers may pay for a portion of your travel, all of the travel, an honorarium (if you’re in a festival), or accommodations if billeting is not available. Always talk with the producer to see what is included (if anything) for travelling performers at the time of your hire or acceptance.
Is driving an option?
How you travel is going to be one of the biggest fluctuations in cost for performers. Depending on the distance, driving can be a similar price as flying, but often it depends on your priorities with your trip. If you’re travelling in a group with lots of luggage, often carpooling is more affordable and can give more space for extra luggage. However, if you’re going solo or want to get to your destination quickly, flying is my personal preferred method of travel.
Get Travel Points!
Flying? Don’t forget about rewards cards! I love rewards cards especially when you can use your points on flights! Personally, I like to make sure that whatever program I use with my credit card that the points don’t expire and they are flexible with who I can book with and where and when I can travel. I have saved money on almost every flight (including some fully paid for!) that I have taken since I signed up. One thing to be aware of, however, is that most rewards programs have a yearly fee. If you travel a lot, the points are worth it!
Learn the local transportation
Does the town you’re visiting have a great sky train or rail system? Are there buses that frequently run? Are taxis or rideshare apps convenient transportation during your visit? Or is everything conveniently within walking distance? Often festivals and producers will have local performers or rideshares planned for visiting performers during their stay... but if not, then it’s always good to know your options with local transit to know what’s convenient for your travel and your wallet.
Is there billeting?
If travelling solo and billeting is an option... take it! Billeting is where a local performer opens their home for out-of-town performers to stay with them. Couch surfer enthusiasts, this option is for you! Billeting is free accommodations and a wonderful way to bond with someone local! Whether you’re travelling for a festival, to perform for a community show, or just travelling for pleasure, it’s always helpful to reach out to local performers and producers to see if anyone has an extra bed or couch you can sleep on.
Splitting costs is always more affordable. Either plan to go on a trip with people you know or you can put a call out to other performers attending your event who are willing to share space. Not only does this help you save money but you are also given an opportunity to connect with other performers and bond! There’s something special about being in close quarters with another performer during an event.
I love eating out, but it adds up fast. If you have a fridge in your accommodations then take advantage of it. If you drink alcohol, this can especially add up when out. Buying your own groceries is an easy way to make sure you have snacks when needed, save on cash, and eat healthier to keep your energy up. I do not always succeed with buying groceries; I still eat out a lot. But being conscious of my options has helped me to make more frequently positive choices for myself during festivals and travel.
Give yourself a budget
It’s easy to get sucked into any vendor hall (especially at Burlycon and BHOF) or take all of the classes being offered at a festival. Before leaving on any trip, I always prepare a budget for myself. Which classes am I planning to take, what items do I plan on buying, and how much “loose cash” do I want to give myself for any impromptu purchases or events I may come across?
Burlesque often requires a lot of money, but it doesn’t have to drain your finances. Knowing ways you can save money is great for anyone wanting to be involved with burlesque and it’s many opportunities... because everyone should have the chance to experience burlesque and its many facets.