The Denver Center for the Performing Arts Blog

Packing for Poppins: A Survival Guide to Packing on the Road

Madeline Trumble in Mary Poppins. Photo: Jeremy DanielWhether it’s a carryon, a suitcase, a traveling trunk or — as in the case of Mary Poppins which flies into Denver’s Buell Theatre May 1-5 — a carpetbag, it takes a little organizational magic to pack when you are constantly on the road. So we turned to Madeline Trumble, who plays everyone’s favorite nanny to get some helpful, handy tips.

How many markets will you travel to during your run as Mary?

Oh my goodness, I think I’ve traveled to about forty different cities, in three different countries. And we still have a few stops left!

Do you get to go back home between any of the engagements?

I took a week’s vacation and so I got to go back home a few months ago. But I didn’t get to go home home, because someone’s staying in my apartment while I’m away.  BUT I got to go back to New York, where my home and heart is. And next week, we play San Francisco, so I get to return to where I grew up (Berkeley, CA). I can’t wait to see my mom and perform for my community!

Assuming that you have to pack once in preparation for several national stops before returning home, how do you start? Do you even bother checking the weather forecast? Take a look at the local Convention & Visitors Bureau site to see what to expect? Pick up a copy of the most recent Farmer’s Almanac?

I had to pack for ten months of tour from the get go. So, I had to pack for all weathers. We pretty much travel every single Monday. We RARELY get any sort of a break. So, I have everything from sandals and summer dresses, to boots and coats. I am a self proclaimed fashionista (I have an enormous collection of vintage clothing) so it was really tough to scale down for the road. We’re allowed two suitcases, a carryon and a trunk, which is about the size of a third suitcase. NOT ENOUGH ROOM! And also- you do a lot of shopping on the road. I’ve probably doubled my wardrobe. I’m constantly sending boxes back home to California to make more room in my suitcases for new clothes!

Once you’ve determined what to take — we hope you are planning for layers in Denver — what’s next? Is there “a place for everything and everything in its place”? Are you the organized, straight as a pin folder? The never-wrinkled roller? Or the helter skelter toss-and-go type?

Everyone has their own system. I kind of have one junk suitcase- I keep a lot of odds and ends in there, along with my toiletries. And then I have a big suitcase full of a bag of dresses, two different bags for shirts, bag for skirts, bag for underwear, bag for socks, bag for socks, bag for sunglasses, etc. But everything has it’s place because my suitcases are exactly 49 lbs each!

Knowing that, as with most Broadway tours, you pack a larger trunk and then have a carryon, what type of carryon do you recommend? Do you — a la Mary Poppins — have a carpetbag? Maybe a lightweight canvas bag on wheels? Or one of those impenetrable hard cases?

Oh No. I need as much room as possible, so I have a carryon with four wheels! I love those spinner suitcases! It lets me push and pull all three of my bags at once. I also have a great lululemon bag with a hundred pockets to take with me on the plane. It can hold anything.

Now every proper nanny out there, and your average Jill too, wants to know what’s in your carryon. What is so important that you can’t trust it in your trunk? Your makeup bag? The latest Cosmo? Your laptop? Or maybe even one of P.L. Traver’s eight books about that “practically perfect in every way” nanny who arrives by umbrella and befriends charming chimney sweeps?

I always have my makeup bag, my wallet, and my diabetes kit (I have Type 1, or Juvenile Diabetes). And I have a cool DSLR camera I don’t trust anywhere else but by my side. I also have a book and a magazine on me at all times. And my iphone. Always my iphone. Though that’s usually in my hand and not in my bag.

What’s your trick to making the most of the monotony of airports? Have you ever arrived to the airport unprepared — missing your ID, forgetting a bag, leaving your cell phone in a cab?

Absolutely not! I’ve been touring for about a year. I know what I’m doing! I’ve had pretty good luck!

Tell us something funny or unusual that’s happened while out on the road. How did you react? How would Mary react?

I’ve led a pretty boring life out here on the road. I’ve gotten to really see the country and meet its people. That’s been the most exciting part. Meeting people all over the country who love theatre and love Mary Poppins- it’s been really amazing to see so many different kinds of people reacting in the same way to our show.

What would Mary’s advice be for the average traveler looking to pack for a trip? A spoonful of sugar may be a bit suspicious in your carryon.

Less is more! Which is definitely ironic coming from the girl with the heaviest luggage, but if I could do it all over again, I would pack a lot less. Think in outfits, not in individual pieces. And- one coat is enough. You don’t need five. 

Mary Poppins plays Denver’s Buell Theatre through May 5. Tickets: 303.893.4100.

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