When you live in Jackson, Mississippi, you aren’t exactly near all the hotspots of cool indie craft shows. I told myself I was going to try to do every possibly Renegade Craft in 2012. Last year I asked a lot of questions to crafters who have been doing this way longer than I have. In the past two months, I have shipped my work to Brooklyn & San Francisco Renegades. I am by no means an expert on this, but I wanted to share with you some on how I’ve figured out how to travel with a lot of paper.
A lot might seem elementary for you, but I wanted to share everything I have to take into consideration to pull off a successful (and profitable!) show.
1. Where to Stay. The best thing you can do when you are traveling to a show is stay with a friend. It cuts down SO much on expenses. But if you can’t do that, I recommend airbnb.com and stay as close as you possibly can to the craft fair location. I found a really great place to stay one block away from Renegade Brooklyn, so I didn’t have to spend money on cabs. We rolled the luggage down to the park. That saved at least $50 a day on travel.
2. How to Travel. Let me go ahead and say I would not recommend traveling alone. But I know of a lot of crafters that are able to travel alone. But I like to be able to take a bathroom break and not have to lug 3 large suitcases around on my own. And I personally will never fly United Airlines again. We (my intern Katelyn and I) were stuck in the DC Airport for a night because of flight delays out of LaGuardia. BUT we become friends with some other stranded souls, hopped in a cab with them at midnight, and traveled to see the national monuments! I have found American to be cheaper for me than Southwest. Checking a large 50 lb. suitcase is $25 one way, the second is $35. (But you can save $10 by checking one bag in the name of your travel buddy.) OH! And did you know that a 10×10 pop-up tent can be a checked bag? I have also shipped boxes before, too, through USPS. I did that because paper weighs A LOT, and you can ship in their flat rate boxes.
3. How to Pack. I packed only the essentials. The trick I found is to try to make your booth look as normal as it does when you are bringing a car. Best tip: Hang things. It makes your booth seem much more full when things are hanging. I’ve made my own pennants and hang those with my yellow clothespins. They ship flat and are super cute in a booth. Count your quantities and only take your most popular items that you think would do well in that region of the country. I feel that San Francisco was my easiest trip because I had already done it once and kind of knew what to expect. I fit everything into two large suitcases, one carry-on suitcase and a bag. And I highly recommend packing with an Eagle Scout. Dave knows how to make everything somehow miraculously fit.
- Get a rewards business credit card to get either cash back or travel points. I did a lot of research on picking out one. I like my Chase Ink business card just fine.
- Notify your bank when you are traveling. My Mississippi bank seems to think anytime anyone leaves the state, it’s fraud! So call and tell them your travel days.
- Carry your cash for the fair in your purse!
- Check your business card boxes. TSA always thinks my business cards are something shady because they are so thick in mass. I used to get held up about it, so that’s why I check them.
- Use tablecloths as your bubble wrap! I wrap all my picture frames and fragile things in my tablecloths. And I sure use my clothes for that too! HA!
- Take extra packing supplies – tape and scissors. And they go in the checked bags.
- I figured out that I can pack my stationery in smaller boxes, then bring fabric to cover the boxes for display. It looks like I brought these fab baskets covered in fabric, when actually they are sturdy envelope boxes covered in fat quarters of my fabric! And it keeps my stationery from getting damaged.
- Pack your heaviest things in the carry-on luggage. It amazes me how quickly a suitcase becomes 50 pounds! Ugh!
- I didn’t tape up one of my boxes in my checked bag, and apparently TSA went all through that suitcase. So I did have about 5 damaged sets of stationery. So I learned it’s not crazy to tape up every single thing you can.
- I normally put my business cards and bookmarks in Mason Jars. BUT that is glass and it could break. SO I have several vintage tin containers that I now pack with me that can handle a dent or two.
If you have any other tips, please let me know! I hope this helps someone out there who wanted to travel to a bigger show but was a bit scared about doing it. I had a lot of “make it work” moments and somehow got it done.