I know there will be a lot of curious beginners in the Drum Corps world pretty soon or maybe you are just curious of how you fit three months of stuff into a suitcase? Either way, this is a really long blog post of my recommendations of what to bring on tour: what I did, things you wish you would have packed, and a little advice on things that you don't even cross your mind before leaving.
I marched with Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corp in the summer of 2013 and 2014. I was in high school,excited to get a taste of a world-class ensemble, and thrilled to be given a taste of life away from home. I had a great time and got so many experiences that will stay with me for the rest of my life! Having a good time does not come without having exactly what you need,so I thought I'd put together a list of what I did to help anyone that was interested. Please know you don't have to have these things and not every corps have the same regulations, but it's a good start! Here we go.
2 Cut-off Shirts
2 white t-shirts
You will want these especially at spring training. When you rehearse during ensemble, (at least last years) it was required you have a white shirt and black shorts. I'm sure it will be specified later, but it doesn't hurt to have them.
1 workout tank
Sometimes it will be hot, but you might not want to take your shirt off.
2 normal shirts --freedays
One for the bus when it's really cold and you want to be comfy and one for rehearsing on cold mornings that you don't care that it smells funny.
1 rain jacket
You will be glad you packed this when it rains in IOWA....Keep it handy in your rehearsal bag.
5+ pairs of shorts
You can wash these and sports bras in the shower when they get really bad. One of these pairs of shorts should be pink. On Wednesdays we wear pink!
2 pairs of compression shorts
For under your uniform. The corps will provide you with compression gear, but having your own will benefit you when they are uncomfortable and smelly.
1 pair of comfy shorts
You might want a pair to keep on the bus or wear on a free day.
2 pairs of light sweats
Iowa is cold and rainy...sometimes... So you will want something to keep dry. You might want another pair for the bus to be comfy and not smell weird.
1 pair of Jeans
Free day attire. It might be warm, but wearing jeans instead of shorts all the time is a nice change.
1 pair of Khakis shorts
When marching in parades or other promotional events, khakis will be our uniform. Don't forget these. You don't want to be "that guy."
10 sports bras/bikini tops
Like I said earlier, you can wash these, but it's really nice to have a clean bra.
1 normal bra
On laundry days or free days you will be glad you brought one.
18/20 pairs of underwear and socks
You NEVER really know when you will get to do laundry, so ALWAYS have clean underwear and socks. That way you'll be guaranteed to ALWAYS have a clean pair... and you won't smell as bad. Gross. Side note: cotton is very very warm and itchy in the summer, so athletic socks are a plus.
2 pairs of GOOD running shoes
Taking care of yourself is the name of the game in drum corps. Most important part is your feet. It's worth the extra money now in buying two pairs of good, comfortable shoes so you don't have major feet problems later. Sometimes your shoes will get wet and you ALWAYS want dry feet,especially on Swamp Tour. Make sure you break BOTH pairs of shoes in before you go on tour. You don't want to start of the season with blisters. If you already have messed up feet, I would consider getting insoles for your shoes.
1 pair of Shower shoes
I used a pair of flip flops. They will get gross in all of the random showers we use across the country. Only wear these in the shower. Foot fungus is gross.
1 pair of comfy shoes
Bring a pair of flip flops, slide-ons, loafers, TOMS.. Something of that kind. When you aren't at rehearsal or showering you might want some comfy shoes to hang around in. I bought an off- brand of TOMS at Wal-Mart on tour that worked out really well.
Just a note on clothes: don't buy anything that will make you stand out too much in rehearsal ( ie. neon jackets or sweaters). It is distracting in the ensemble of people.
LL Bean (Medium-Sized) is a really good one that I use.
When you lose a certain amount of body-fat you will not have your period or it will be differently scheduled. Bring a box. Either way, you'll be happy to have them if your or your friends need them.
It saves space. Just get a normal size bottle, you can purchase more on a Wal-Mart run.
3 Contact Cases
One for your toiletry bag, one for your rehearsal bag, one for the bus.
2 bottles of Contact Cleaner
One for your toiletry bag, one for the bus.
NECESSITY! Don't forget. But don't keep it in your rehearsal bag. It will melt in the sun.
I brought a microfiber towel that I used and dried every day. It worked out really nice, no mildew to my surprise.
1 rehearsal towel
A smaller towel that can fit in your rehearsal bag to use for early morning stretch. All the dew on the ground will make your clothes all wet, which is not fun when you just got up.
1 Package of Hair ties
Lets face it, they are easy to lose and break. For show hair, these are essential.
2 Packages of Bobby pins
Sharing is caring, expect to share your bobby pins and use A LOT of them.
1 Large can of Hairspray
For all of your flyaways. Expect to share this as well.
1 Bottle of Hair Gel
1 Hair brush
1 Fine tooth comb
Packages of hairnets
I didn't use these, but I know girls who did. If you have long hair, or awkward layers then these would be for you.
1 Jar of silver polish
Before a show, you will be expected to make your instrument nice and shiny. This stuff comes in a jar in cream form. The brand that I found at Wal-Mart before I left was "Weiman Silver Cream." I have known others that got "Wright's Silver Polish."
1 Package Windex wipes
1 Polishing Cloth
An old shirt you can use to tear into polishing cloth rags. Or just get a hand towel.
Luggage for each corps is different, but here is what I got for my summer.
LL Bean Carryall Rolling Gear Bag, Extra-Large
LL Bean Quad Backpack
LL Bean Toiletry Bag
Air mattress: mini Coleman
Air mattress pump (non battery operated-plug in)
Inside of my suitcase I had plastic closet organizers that are flexible and collapsible. I had five of these. One for my show stuff. One for undergarments. One empty for semi-dirty/clean clothes. One for socks. One for shirts. I liked these, because it kept my clothes in separate containers so that my whole suitcase wasn't contaminated by one piece of clothing.
Mine has lots of pockets. It's from LL Bean, called the Quad Backpack.
1 Heavy Duty Music Binder
It will rain.
1 Package of Sheet Protectors
1 Dot Book
Book to write your drill in. ALWAYS have your dot book. BOX 5. I brought an extra with me, so later in the season I could rewrite my drill.
1 Fanny pack/ way to secure dot book
I wore my fanny pack to secure my dot book and a pencil. It should be really sturdy, because you wear it all day at rehearsal, every single day. Other ways to secure your dot book are with a shoe string and carabiners.
1 Black Towel
For Blue Stars, every horn line member is required to have a black towel for rehearsals. Don't forget it. Don't lose it.
Take care of your Hammond. Don't drop it.
1 Gallon Water jug
You will drink 4 gallons of water a day. Don't ever be caught without water. It makes a good chair at lunch, too. It doesn' t have to be color specific.
Wearing a hat is absolutely necessary. I don't like wearing hats, but you get used to it. You want more than one so they don't smell as bad. You sweat a lot. They will lose a lot of color by the end of the summer.
2 pairs of Sunglasses
2 Trash bags
Keep these in your rehearsal bag. When it rains during rehearsal, stuff your backpack into your trash bag. Keep an extra for your friend or buddy up.
1 bottle of sunscreen
I used lotion sunscreen because I got more for my money. The spray stuff ran out really quick, but it is convenient.
1 Pencil Case
Store pencils, pens, notecards, chapstick, and anything else you need handy in your rehearsal bag.
A container for all loose items you want on the bus. Most people use a shoe box sized container. I had one that size and put my snacks and drinks in. I used a paper organizer box for my chargers, iPad, and a book.
Shower Caddy with Suction cups
Hang it on the window. Easy access for your phone, Gatorade, and other goodies.
Drum Corps people are bungee cord engineers. Who knows, maybe you will want to make a hammock?
Oh, the bus stench. Keep your seat smelling nice.
There will be many times that you and your seat partner will feast on lots and lots of food that probably isn't that great for you, but hey... when you are hungry you're hungry. Here is a list of things my seat partner and I had in our snack box.
Twizzler Bites, AirHead Xtremes, Cliff Bars, PopTarts, Gatorade, Hawaiian Punch, Granola Bars, Almonds, Goldfish, Whales, Carmel, and Pringles.
Bring anything that will make you feel at home on the bus. I always kept a sweatshirt, sweatpants, and pillow on the bus so I was comfortable all the time. Or as comfortable as you can get... DO NOT bring your entire stuffed animal collection or your kitchen sink. Your seat partner might hurt you.
Tiger Balm/Icy Hot
Sunscreen (2 tubes)
You can buy more along the way. Don't worry about running out. Someone is always willing to share.
Blisters are no fun. Band aids make it better.
You never know if you'll need some for an ankle sprain or just a hair band.
Best massage tool for your feet they hurt.
For the summer, you shouldn't really bring a whole lot of technology stuff because it might be stolen, but it's no fun to forget a charger.
Mophie Charging Box
Protective Phone case
Portable Charging Device
Mophie phone case, box, or something similar
2 Trash Bags
When it is raining throw your bookbag into a bag to protect it from the rain. Hope your friend has an extra if you forget. Or be someone else's friend.
I brought a pocket-knife/plyer thing. Everyone loved to have it when they needed to cut something or fix their shako.
Handy containers for anything
It's nice to have something to write in when you need a break from other people or just have a lot on your mind. It's a good way to document your journey as well.
Special garment container
Mine is a fabric container, that I stored all my socks in so they didn't make my luggage smell. I put this inside of my laundry bag so when we finally did laundry I just threw the whole thing in.
Laundry Detergent Packages or Pods
A roll of Quarters
Sleeping Bag Protector
If you are getting this all in one trip. You're crazy. But, check back every now and then to see any updates, but this is most things you will need. This is a lot, but trust me. This can all fit. You don't and probably shouldn't have to bring everything on this list. A lot of it does help, but you will figure out a system that works for you.