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Travel and Etc. in Florida

This post summarizes travel suggestions for traveling with many costumes for this particular competition, as well as a few tips for managing Florida in August.

First, though, we ask everyone to make sure you wear your masks for travel, even though it’s no longer mandated. COVID is rampant in Colorado, in Fort Collins, and across the country alike. We don’t want anyone to get sick for the competition!

We also strongly suggest getting tested a few days before you leave. If you are feeling at all unwell, please wear a mask at all times when around the team until you are sure you’re all better!

Packing for Showcase

You have a lot of costumes for showcase! Two ensemble costumes, everything for your singles/duets/trios, and maybe a few things for an interpretive event. For some of you, that means a lot of fluffy, awkward, and delicate things to manage.

Bring performance costumes and skates on the plane in a carry-on to be sure they don’t get lost.

First, airlines are busier and understaffed at the moment, and lost luggage is always possible! We recommend you bring both a carry-on suitcase AND a checked bag (assuming you need more than exclusively carry-ons). Bring your performance costumes and your skates on the plane in a carry-on to be sure they don’t get lost. For everything else, there’s always borrowing and Target if things get lost!

Help protect your delicate costume items with these tips:

  • Make sure you bring your EPIC Productions jacket! We always want to represent the team well while there.
  • Apparently rinks B and C are very cold, so spectators and skaters alike should have good jackets to stay comfortable!
  • Use a hard-side suitcase for costumes to avoid compression.
  • Stuff paper or plastic bags into hats, wigs, and other crushable items to help them keep their shape in your suitcase. Wigs are best packed inside another small bag such as a ziploc.
  • Pack crystalled items inside their own bags or covers – I use large ziploc bags for this. This keeps them from snagging on other items that can damage the costume or its neighbors.
  • Wrap props, headpieces, jewelry or other awkward-shaped items with paper or other packing material, then place them inside a separate bag (such as a ziploc)
  • For items with tulle such as tutus, fold in half vertically to make them into a tube. This keeps the tulle from getting wrinkled.
  • Bring a few of your own hangers for the hotel closets – often they don’t provide enough!

The Team Manager will bring a steamer to get wrinkles out of costumes – most of these cannot be ironed with a regular iron, so be sure to reach out to her about that as needed!

Bring your skates on the plane! For traveling with skates, note that Zuca bags will NOT generally fit in overhead compartments and would have to be regular- or gate-checked. We recommend using a large backpack instead. If necessary, we can rustle up costume substitutions from local stores, but there is no substitution for your skates!

Another piece of advice: With the current understaffing on airlines and chaos at airports, lost luggage is more likely and information is power. If you have Apple phones/tablets, put an Apple Airtag (or Android equivalent) in your checked luggage. A friend who traveled recently barely made their connection, and when they landed, they could see from the Airtag that their bags did not make the plane. The Airtag helped them track it down more quickly.

Managing Florida Travel in August

I’m sure many of you have been to Florida before, but just in case, here are a seven tips for the heat and sun in August there.

1. It will be hot and humid, and Florida sun is stronger because of this. Temperatures will likely be highs of 95 every day, with lows of 77 (late at night). The humidity makes this feel much hotter than the same temps in Fort Collins, though!

2. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. Wear it every day on your face, whether or not you plan to spend time outside. Best for face protection is a light but powerful sunscreen such as SuperGoop (available at Sephora/Kohl’s) or Sun Bum (available at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ulta, and Target). For days you won’t be outside much, use a fragrance-free spray or regular sunscreen on ALL exposed skin, as well. Reapply regularly, especially on your face! If you walk around outside, a heavier sunscreen on the body is vital – and reapply!

Remember, even when it’s cloudy, that sun can burn you! Sunscreen ALWAYS.

3. The move from 5,000 feet to sea-level can make you dehydrated and tired. Drink more water than you think you want, and avoid sugars to keep you feeling peppy. Altitude changes also often come with digestive weirdness, so be kind to your tummy.

4. Florida tap water is awful. That means filling your water bottle is either expensive or distasteful. I strongly recommend getting a water bottle with a built-in filter like this one on Amazon (different colors have different delivery times – check carefully!). This goes double for those going to Universal Studios/Disney!

It generally rains – hard – every day in the afternoon for about an hour in August.

5. Hats, parasols, and light long-sleeved tops are your friend! These help protect you from the sun and stay cooler. We’re planning to bring a few parasols for our Disney/Universal days especially.

6. Make sure your parasol is also waterproof! August is the rainy season, and it generally rains every day in the afternoon for about an hour. Every. Single. Day. This rain isn’t light and misty – it’s more like monsoon rain drenching everything. Rain ponchos are handy, too.

7. Finally, please do not go swimming the day you skate! Evening swims are fine, but you should NEVER swim and then skate later that day, even for practice ice. The water affects your muscles in ways I can’t explain, and makes skating really tough. The coaches are adamant about this, so please plan accordingly!

A few final tips

As you all know, National Showcase is a long, intense competition with early mornings and late nights. Get good sleep before you leave, and try to get rest in whenever you can during the day. The sun, heat, and humidity will make you more tired, as well.

Many restaurants are within a 10-minute drive of the rink, and include plenty of options. We can coordinate carpooling for lunch and dinner as needed. As a reminder, coaches will not be able to drive a single skater (under 18) anywhere due to SafeSport requirements – two or more skaters, or a skater and a second adult are permitted.

Although the hotel rooms have no kitchens, they do have a fridge, so we like to do a grocery store run once we arrive for protein bars, fruit and cheese, peanut butter, and other substantial snacks to avoid purchasing every meal. There is a microwave in the hotel, so you can get things such as instant oatmeal or soups, too.

Do you have any other tips to add? Put them in the comments!

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