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DESTINATION: DANCE HEAVEN
Travel Tips From a Salsa Road Warrior
I have been traveling a great deal for business and pleasure in past 15 years. I love the excitement of exploring exotic places, finding great bargains and meeting new people. Lately, I have taken many Salsa dance vacations in New York, Seattle, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Spain to name a few places. (Check out my articles about dance workshops in Cuba—Adventures in Cuba I and Adventures in Cuba II.
Even though I consider myself an experienced traveler, my recent visit to the West Coast Salsa Congress (click here to see my photo gallery of the Congress) reminded me of one thing. I need to take special care when there is a lot of social dancing and dance workshops on my vacation agenda. Here are some suggestions that might help your dance vacations be as exciting and enjoyable as mine have been.
BEFORE THE TRIP
PACK LIGHT, PACK SMART Special items like shoes for social dancing, dance sneakers for workshops, Camcorders for recording lessons, workout outfits for class all add up to more weight and more bulk in your suitcase. Figure out what is the bare minimum you need and then only pack half of that. If you are going to a major city, you can always buy or borrow things when you get there. You never know how much stuff you will have to lug around yourself. Of course if you are traveling with a butler or nanny who carry your suitcases, then pack everything including the kitchen sink. I use my own dancer’s travel checklist to help organize my packing routine.
SHOES, SHOES, SHOES: Women and their shoes. Most guys have no idea what women; particularly dancers go through to be sure that we have the right shoe for the outfit or the occasion. But I am a big believer in comfort before style. You may think that you need have to bring walking shoes, dance sneakers for workshops, sandals for the pools, heels for dancing, heels for dress (in case I someone decides to take out to dinner before I leave him to go dancing). If I carried all those shoes on a trip, I would need to take a suitcase devoted solely ( no pun intended) to my shoes. But I have managed to reduce my shoe needs down to just dance sneakers for dance classes, walking shoes and heels for social dancing and nightlife. If all else fails, hit the mall and pick up a new pair of shoes.
DIET: Traveling is often physically demanding and stressful. Your whole body is really put to the test of if you take 3-4 hours of workshops and private lessons and dance 4-5 hours in the every evening. How do you keep up your energy and endurance? WATER-WATER-WATER is an important factor. Since airplane travel and dancing are both very dehydrating, I have a 1.5 liter of water with me at all times.
☼ Budget tip—buy your first bottle of water at a grocery store and the rest of the time fill it up from water fountains in the airport.
For that mid afternoon energy slump—energy bars. Salsacrazy and I have sampled tons of tasteless, rock hard high protein, low carbohydrate energy bars and my current favorite is the Myoplex Low Carb Energy Bar distributed by GNCE. A little pricey at $2.79 per bar but it actually tastes pretty good. You can also get other high protein-low carb bars at Long's Drugs, Trader Joe's and Costco.
Remember to bring all your usual vitamins, dietary supplements, teas, potions, beauty aids, sun-screen and medications and maybe other some staples like Advil, bandages and safety pins. It is really inconvenient to buy toiletries and over the counter medications in the hotel gift shop or at the airport where the mark-up on these items can be 40-150% or more. Besides, who wants to go looking for an all night drugstore in a strange city at 2 AM.
AT YOUR DANCE DESTINATION
BREAK TIME: Even if there are a million great teachers and promising dance classes, be sure that you take out a little time to relax. Sit by the hotel pool, put you body in the hot tub, and get a manicure. A pedicure is an incredible treat for your tired feet and legs. When you check in, get a room with a tub. Fill it with warm-hot water, climb in and stretch your legs and feet before and after your workshops. If you follow this routine after a night of strenuous dancing, you can avoid cramps and aches in your legs and feet the next day.
DANCE WITH A STRANGER: Talk and dance with someone who you don’t know. The whole purpose of travel is to explore new places and new people. There is nothing as exciting and gratifying as finding a new dance partner who enjoys Salsa dancing and music as much as you do. Tell them about www.salsacrazy.com and www.salsaroots.com. Invite your new dance partner to the November Salsa Congress in San Francisco.
WATER-WATER-WATER: You need to stay very well hydrated during dance classes and social dancing. If it has been a really hot, steamy evening, I will drink water with electrolyte supplements (you find this at GNC or other health food stores) before I go to bed so that I will feel refreshed the next morning. If you decide to drink alcohol, be sure you drink at least twice as much water to combat fatigue, dehydration and hangovers.
AFTER THE TRIP:
DEPARTURE: I know it is hard to go back to the real world after a Salsa adventure. Who really wants to face work, school, spouses, kids and all the other responsibilities you juggle in your normal life. But the party has to come to end. I suggest either leaving early—a day before a Salsa Congress ends or leaving late. You are already sleep deprived from several nights of non-stop dancing. Why make things worse by standing in long checkout lines at the hotel, rushing off to the airport and dealing with a plane full of totally wired dancers.
Allot plenty of time for packing all of your dance gear and other necessities. Allow tons of time for getting to the airport and check-in procedures. Sometimes I spend twice as much time getting to the gate as I spend flying to my destination. But that’s life in the fast lane.
TREATS: Since you will probably spend at least an hour roaming around the airport waiting for your plane, why not find special treats. I love to roam around bookstores, make-up counters and bath and body shops. My newest delight is the Brookstone stores, the retail chain that sells all kinds of goodies for pampering yourself. If look closely, you will find an electronic food massage pad that vibrates, warms your feet and gives a shiatsu massage for your tired toes. What is better than a free foot massage after you have been dancing for 3-4 days? Pure heaven.
WATER-WATER-WATER. Same rules apply about having plenty of water with you to combat jet lag and travel aches. Besides when you get home from the Congress, you’ll want to go out that night to your favorite club and tell all you friends about your Salsa adventures.
CHILL OUT: Try to take a little time to relax before going back to work or school. It takes time to catch up on your rest and get your life back in order. Remember you have just enjoyed an exciting, but physically demanding vacation. So your body and mind need time to recuperate. Try to take a half or whole day off from your duties to catch up on your sleep, eating and other necessities of life. Give your self at least 3-4 days to get back into your normal routine.
Got any other travel tips? Please send all suggestions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org