Behind the Scenes- Houston, Texas (packing for on-location)

Working on location can be tough. Especially with the luggage weight limits of 50 pounds. Recently I flew to Houston, Texas for an on location shoot for McKesson.  Packing for a shoot on location can be an exercise in both patience and practicality.

I have never been to Houston, and one of the hardest things to do is anticipate what you will need for an on location shoot in a city you are not familiar with. There are several factors that I always keep in mind when working on location, weather, distance traveled, duration of time at the location, and access to products. In this post I am primarily going to talk about packing for an out of state location shoot.

As a professional makeup artist you will obviously need your makeup kit. The first thing to check is the weight of your case complete with product. Once you know how much it weighs, you can then decide how much weight you have for your hair kit and styling kit if you are hired to for multiple roles. I generally like to keep my kit at approximately 25-30 pounds so I have enough room for the basic items needed for my hair kit, and to allow for the weight of the suitcase that encompasses everything.

I flew Continental Airlines to Houston, which charges $25.00 for a checked bag that weighs no more than 50 pounds. Although the production company pays for all travel, I personally like to control costs on my end to allow more budget and reimbursement for other expenses alloted to my department. (This is something you have to negotiate with them prior to booking the job. Don’t assume that you will be reimbursed for any expenses you incur. Generally the production company should pay in advance for your ticket and other incidents, however, keep your receipts in case you pay for something that was missed by the production manager.)

I packed all my clothes in a hand carried suitcase and was still allowed one additional bag on board the plane. I try not to bring too much because if I am not traveling with the rest of the crew I have to manage all of the bags on my own and bring it to the rental car or taxi and then hotel and possibly the shoot if I’m not hiring a rental car. So be mindful of how much you pack.

Eons ago, when I used to travel on location production companies paid for everything and baggage cargo allotment was less restricted. But today traveling can be the biggest source of stress if you aren’t organized. Plan everything and allow for extra product and disposables (powder puffs, mascara wands, etc) so you aren’t caught short if the client decides at the last minute to add extra people. It’s also important to make sure you have everything because if you haven’t traveled to that city before you may not know if there is access to wait you need, especially if it is a professional product. Second, keep a list of everything in your kit, with your travel documents, and put a copy of your hotel information, and personal contact information in the suitcase in case it gets sent to the wrong destination. It is also important to have a photograph of the contents of your luggage in case the bag gets lost and you have to file a claim.

So at this point you are probably wondering how do I bring everything I need while staying inside the weight restriction? The answer is reduce the amount of eye makeup and lip color choices, re-bottle all product into lightweight plastic bottles, and pack your bag according to the services you will provide. In my case, I knew it was going to be a corporate shoot, so there was no need for me to pack my Runway/Print makeup colors. Removing most of the bright colors saved me alot of room and weight. I then did the same thing with my hair kit and removed, hair pieces, round brushes, most of the curling irons, and two-thirds of the hair products I normally carry. I won’t give specifics on what to bring, because everyone’s kit contains different items, and only you can determine what you absolutely need to achieve the results for the job. Use soft sided bags for your hair kit if you decide to pack your hard shell makeup case, this can really save weight.

After condensing everything needed for this job, my suitcase, makeup kit and hair kit weighed 45 pounds. I usually like to reserve  5 pounds, in case the scale at the airlines isn’t calibrated so I won’t be charged an excessive weight fee. Continental airlines charges $100.00 per bag over 50 pounds in addition to the $25.00 checked bag fee. Knowing this information I wanted to make sure that I stayed in my budget for the shoot. Another great tip, is to tape your business card to all pouches in your luggage in case TSA goes through your items and it gets separated, you then have a better chance of having it  put back or returned to you. Another useful tip is to tape your makeup kit closed at the seams so nothing falls out in transit. It will probably be hard to see since I used clear packing tape but its a useful procedure.

Now that you are armed with the right knowledge on how to pack for a location shoot you can be comfortable knowing that you will have what you need. Good luck and happy travels!



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