Ottawa Dancers’ Blogletter – 2018/05/07

Road Trip Tips for Dancers!

You love dance, your regular class and teacher but you see advertisements for workshops that aren’t necessarily local and are curious to attending a workshop or two.  If you’re like me and like a road trips with a destination goal then workshops are a great way to explore a little bit of the world and continue growing your dance education.  Now there are various types of road trips.  This blogletter will discuss various types of road trips and provide some tips to make the most of them.

Close to Home Road Trip

What the heck is a close to home road trip?  A road trip, for me, is where you have to travel to a location where you do not regularly travel to.  So yes, I consider going from the east end of Ottawa to the west of Ottawa a road trip but I would call it a “close to home road trip” or “day trip”.  These are great when you have limited budget for dance workshops.  You can either solo travel to the workshop or organize a dance friends day, which you carpool to and from the workshop and/or just make a day of attending and hanging out with your dance friends.  I’m and always happy when I and/or another organizer brings instructors from outside to Ottawa to Ottawa that I’m interested in learning from.  Why?  The obvious is that I only have to pay for the workshop and travel costs (gas for my car or bus if I decided I didn’t want to use my car).   

Tips for the close to home road trip:

Make it a day where you have nothing else but dance on your agenda.

If there is a halfa or a show, and you’re interested in a performance, ask to be part of the show

Always brings snacks and lots of water

Give yourself a foot soak with epsom salts at the end of the day to rejuvenate your feet.  Epsom salt baths are great too.  Or, arrange for some spa time after the workshop.

Road Trip beyond your Hometown.

Road trips beyond your normal travel space can cause anxiety and excitement at the same time but most often they are so worth taking that first step out your front door to go and learn from a teacher you’ve been admiring from afar and/or the workshop that is being offered is on a subject that you’ve been wanting to learn more of.  Ironically, sometimes you will end up leaving your home town to learn for a teacher that happens to teach in your area that you never had a chance to learn from but happened to be part of a larger event.  This happened to me, many, many years ago when I was just starting to learn belly dance dance.  I wasn’t subscribed to a local newsletter when I first started, so I had no idea about Denise Enan until I went to Kingston (I believe it was Kingston) that I got to learn from such a giving and talented teacher.  So sometimes road trips away can lead you in discovering things in your own hometown.

So how what’s the best way to plan a road trip?  What are the things to consider?  Below are my thoughts:

Choose your Workshop

There are workshops happening everywhere around the world for belly dance.  The first step is to decide what workshop interest you.  For example, I want to learn more folklore, because there isn’t a regular class that focuses on folklore in my area currently.  So I will check the different posts on Facebooks, unless I’ve been sent information for workshops for the Ottawa Dancers’ newsletter.  Well there just happens to be a folklore intensive happening in Toronto this year ( and it fits into my life schedule.  Did I look at other folklore workshops happening?  Yes, but the Toronto one fit my the criteria for what I was looking for in a workshop as well as my preliminary dance budget I have for the year.


Yes, I said the “B” word and it often is a buzz kill, because you’re excited and you just want to go and enjoy the workshop.  Having that budget allows you to not only enjoy the workshop to the fullest but maybe allow you to have more than one road trip in the same year.  Things to consider for your budget for a road trip:

Cost of the workshop; don’t forget to included the taxes if they’re not in the price.  If it’s a large workshop, like an intensive and the cost is large, see if they have a payment plan.

Travel costs.

If you’re taking a car, take in consideration your gas costs and maybe even some work you may have on your car before heading out.

If you’re taking the train, buy your train ticket as early as possible so you can get the best fare

If you’re taking an airplane, again, buy your ticket when you know the best deals are happening, so you can save some money there.

Food; check around the area where you might be staying for grocery stores and/or check online for the restaurant menus that are close to the workshop/hotel so you can budget for food.

Workshop goodies.  At many a workshop there will be something for sale, and often it’s great to have a souvenir.  On average I would budget a minimum of $100 for potential purchases of DVDs, CDs, and t-shirts.  If you know that there are going to be costumes for sale, well…add at least $800 for costume spending.

Accommodations.  Where are you going to stay?  Sometimes, the workshop organizers will work with a local hotel, close by the venue, and set up a special for people to stay.  If they don’t and you’re not familiar with the area, send them an email and ask.  Most organizer want to have their attendees happy from when they register for their workshops so they’ll be happy to help you out.

Travel with Dance Friends

If you have dance friends in your hometown that want to go to the same workshop you do, why not pool your resources and save on the accommodation and potential travel budget.  If the workshop is within your car travel preference (e.g. Montreal travel from Ottawa is 2 hours, so driving is easy enough), then sharing gas is easy amongst a group of dancers.  If not, then the standard travel costs apply for each dancer.  However, even if the travel is beyond the car, i.e. you need to take the train or plane, then sharing a hotel with another dancer can help caught costs for out of town workshops.  Also, it makes for great memories to share hotel rooms with dance friends. 

Travelling Solo?

If you’re going solo to an out of town workshop, posting on the event page (if there happens to be one) to see if there are other out of town dancers going and interested in sharing an accommodation may not only help your budget but you get to meet someone new.  You can also email the organizer and see if they know of any other attendees that may want to share accommodations to trim costs.

Bring some recording technology!

Old fashion recording technology is the paper and pen.  This is still useful to have for taking notes if no video recording is allowed.  However, most often some form of video recording is allowed, so make sure to have space on either your regular digital camera and/or your phone before you head out to the workshop.  Please check with the organizer and/or even the instructor before recording, as some instructor have preferences when and how they are recorded.

Participate in a show if you can.

Some workshops will have a halfa and/or gala show to showcase various local and abroad talent.  If you want to perform ask ahead a time so the organizer can manage everyone’s requests.  Hey, you’re travelling for a workshop, why not showcase your own talents.

Workshops with Competitions

Some workshops include a competition.  Just because there is a competition doesn’t mean you can’t participate in the workshop.  If you’re interested in doing a competition read their rules and figure out if you want to give it a try.  Competitions often will have an additional registration fee which should be added to your overall budget.

Pack wisely and minimally!

Pack only what you need and then 1 outfit extra.  If there is a gala show, this is the time to bring out a dress you’ve been dying to where but, either felt it was too tame for your hometown and/or you just never get the opportunity to wear.  Gala shows are fun to dress up for as often, everyone dresses up.  Of course the more you pack the more you have to carry so pack with intent of what you will use.  Start with everything you think you’ll need spread out on your bed before packing it in your suitcase.  Take a good look and ask yourself whether or not you’ll really need said item.  If it’s a yes, it goes in your suitcase, if not, your suitcase just got lighter.  Remember to leave room for potential souvenirs (dvds, cds, costumes etc.) you may bring home from the road trip.

Be positive and have fun!

Most importantly of all…After all the planning, registration and travel to get to the workshop and home again, be positive and have fun.  Yes there will be times where you will feel like you’re not getting the moves or feel like you know nothing but you’re there to learn and improve your dance.  Most workshops will have dancers are varying levels of knowledge and capabilities and some people just process things quickly and/or may have taken lots of workshop with the instructor and are really familiar with the way the instructor teachers.  Don’t be hard on yourself, you’re learning.  If you the instructor makes a correction or criticism, be polite and say thank you or ask for clarification if you don’t understand.  Be positive and have fun and you’ll definitely get a lot more out of the workshop(s) than you may imagine.

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