Summer fencing camps and Summer Nationals are coming up faster than we realize. When it comes time to travel with all of your fencing gear, there is not one tried-and-true method that works for everyone. You’ll need to experiment and find what is best for you. Some people insist on bringing as much of their gear as they can as a carry-on (mask, lame, cuff, cords, glove especially) in case the airline loses their bag. Others prefer to play the odds and pack everything into their fencing bag. I am one of those people. I like to live dangerously. So far I’ve been lucky.
I can pack everything I need for up to a five day trip into my fencing rolling bag and still remain under the 50 pound allowable weight limit dictated by the airlines. This bag is almost ten years old and has accompanied me on nearly every fencing trip, from local to national. It can hold all of my fencing gear, plus all of my “after tournament” clothing. If I have access to laundry facilities, I wash and re-use what I wore the first five days. If a washing machine is not available, there’s always the hotel sink. By Day 8 of Summer Nationals, when the zombification of everyone’s brain cells is nearly complete, people will have trouble remembering my name, much less what I wore back on Day 2.
The key to packing for a fencing trip: only take along the essentials. You don’t need a new, cute outfit for every day you’ll be there. Mix and match and re-wear items to save room in your bag. Believe it or not, no one will notice. If they do, it doesn’t matter. There is no reason to bring along your entire closet for one week of competition, much less one weekend! The second key: if you travel frequently for fencing, take the plunge and invest in a good-quality rolling bag. It’ll save you the headache of juggling (and paying baggage fees for) several smaller bags. Mine has a detachable carrying bag on top, ideal for carrying spare weapons, cords, and snacks during the tournament and wet, sweaty clothes afterward.
When packing your fencing weapons, make sure to put them into pvc holders. This will keep them from getting broken or bent during transport. It will also keep them from getting rust on items you need to pack in the weapon compartment of your bag. (Of course, it’s ideal to only pack dry items in there but if you need to leave right after your event, it will be unavoidable.)
Put your weapons and your fencing shoes into the smaller of the two sides of your bag. Turn your weapons so that you have bell guards on each end of it.
A mask bag (or a pillowcase) is useful for more than your mask. I have a matching cord bag as well.
Whatever room you have left over inside the fencing bag dictates how many other items you can bring.
Remember to include only the essentials: post-tournament clothes, team jacket, shoes, toiletry bag, jewelry, hair accessories, etc. Check with the hotel before you leave to see if they have hair dryers in the rooms. There’s no need to bring one if one is provided. Likewise for shampoo, conditioner, and lotion.
What tips/tricks do you have for packing for long fencing trips?