How to bring your cosplay while flying!

If you’re like me and enjoy traveling all the time, then you probably also attend Anime and Comic conventions away from home as well. But unlike going to a convention that’s either close or within driving distance, a con that’s abroad is logically more difficult to plan. In particular, bringing your cosplay to the international convention may seem difficult or impossible! Whether you’re hopping on a plane or a bus, you will definitely have size and baggage limits that will make things harder to cosplay.

Not to fear though! I have many years experience going to Anime/Comic conventions outside of home and I’ve cosplayed many characters. I can tell you that it’s definitely possible to cosplay while also complying with size limits. Which cosplays? That’s what we will be discussing here!

In this post, I will give you 10 tips on how to bring your cosplay while flying. That way, you can rest assured that you will be able to travel with a cosplay with you while also fitting size limits on a bus, train or plane.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

1. Pick and choose your cosplays wisely

Kuruko No Baske cosplay
A Sports Anime cosplay would be a great choice for a cosplay while traveling. It’s lightweight and doesn’t take up much space!

Although it is possible to cosplay while traveling, I still believe you need to choose your cosplays wisely. Preferably, you want to pick costumes that are:

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to pack and fold
  • Not too many fragile parts
  • Nothing bulky
  • Preferably no armored parts (armor takes up a lot of space)

As I mention in my article about luggage-friendly cosplays, closet cosplays and characters that normally wear regular clothing fit these criteria really well! They will easily fit in your luggage/suitcase and you can fold them to reduce the amount of space it takes up.

Unfortunately, that also means you’ll probably have to leave your big and bulky armored cosplays at home. Those Gundam or Monster Hunter cosplays would be really difficult to pack in a suitcase. If the convention was in the local area or if you have a car, then these armored cosplays would not be an issue. But trying to bring these cosplays on an airplane is not practical, in my opinion.

So when it comes to traveling to a convention, try to pick cosplay characters that are more portable and smaller. Fortunately, there are many characters to cosplay that fit these criteria!

2. Use a shoe box to protect your wigs

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely dislike when my wigs get all tangled and messed up when traveling with them!

If you have cosplay wigs that are either fragile or have very specific styling, then you’ll need to protect them in your suitcase. My favorite method is the “shoebox” technique. Put simply, you put your cosplay wig inside a shoebox and throw it in your suitcase. The shoe box is lightweight and sturdy, and it will protect your wigs inside when the suitcase is moving around with you.

The shoebox technique has worked wonders for me; it always protects my wigs while traveling every time! Unfortunately, the shoebox does take a lot of space in your luggage, so you’ll need to factor that when packing. But the shoebox technique will ensure your long and styled wigs stay perfectly intact!

3. Where to put footwear

When it comes to cosplaying, you’ll probably have some specialized footwear for your character. If that’s the case, then you’ll need to figure out how to bring the footwear with you. Here’s what I would suggest in terms of packing cosplay shoes or boots:

  • If it’s regular shoes or boots, you can put them in the bottom of your suitcase.
  • If you have cosplay footwear with fragile or special parts, you can put them on the top of your suitcase.

4. Pack your cosplays on the top of the suitcase

wig packaging
Put your cosplay stuff on the top of your suitcase before closing!

When it comes to packing your stuff for the convention, you’ll definitely want your cosplays on top of everything in the suitcase. This ensures your costume won’t get crushed or wrinkled (or at least not as much).

If necessary, you can wrap your cosplay with bubble wrap or something similar in order to protect it. Normally I don’t need to go that far. If a costume part is really fragile, I’ll put it in my backpack to ensure it stays with me the whole time.

But if your cosplay is in the top compartment of your suitcase, it should be fine.

Speaking of suitcases…

5. Hard-shell or soft-shell bag?

Anime convention packing
I personally prefer soft-shell bags.

This is a matter of preference but I say both hard-shell and soft-shell bags have their advantages and disadvantages.

When it comes to size limits on an airplane, a soft-shell bag will be easier to work around. In my experience, you can take stuff out and make your soft-shell bag fit the size requirements of your airline.

For example, one time my carry-on suitcase was considered too wide to fit and they wanted me to check it in. But I adjusted and put some stuff from my luggage to my backpack, made the front part smaller and voila! The luggage fit the size requirement for a carry-on. So a soft-shell is flexible. But with a hard-shell luggage, you wouldn’t be able to do this since the shape is already defined, no matter how much or little you put in the suitcase. In terms of size, soft-shell has more flexibility than hard-shell.

With that said, a hard-shell suitcase offers you better protection for your items inside. Nothing will get crushed or ruined because the suitcase is much sturdier. The suitcase will take the damage first before any of your items inside. With a soft-shell suitcase, maybe not so much.

So with these things in mind, you can pick and choose which you prefer. Personally, I like soft-shell suitcases better but it’s all a matter of preference.

6. Checked bag will be much easier for you

If you really want more cosplay options while traveling, then you’ll definitely want to consider using a checked bag instead of a carry-on bag. The downsides of checking in a bag: you’ll have to pay an extra fee (around $30-$50) to check it in and you’ll have to pick it up at the baggage claim which could take a while. On top of that, carrying a checked-in bag is a huge hassle, it’s heavy and bulky!

But on the plus side (a big plus by the way), your cosplay options expand dramatically! I can tell you from my experience that a big checked-in bag gives you WAY more space than any carry-on luggage would. I was able to fit 2 medium-sized cosplays in my luggage AND my wigs AND my shoes without any problems!

So yes, bringing a bag you need to check-in will cost you a lot more and it will be a hassle to bring it around with you. But you will be able to cosplay a lot more characters with all that extra space!

7. Cosplay props will be limited, especially on a plane

Fire Emblem cosplay
Normally I have to leave my Marth Falchion sword at home if I’m traveling to a convention by plane.

In all my years of traveling to a cosplay convention abroad, I haven’t been able to figure out how to bring cosplay props such as a sword or staff with me. Unfortunately, there is no solution I can think of that works.

Because cosplay weapons are long and fragile, they’re usually too big to fit in a suitcase and also too fragile to be checked-in separately.

The only solution I’ve heard someone do; mailing the cosplay weapon to the hotel you’re staying at. It’s definitely possible to do this, but coordinating the logistics is difficult.

So as of right now, I don’t have any solutions to bringing large cosplay weapons to a convention if you need to fly there, other than paying for expensive shipping. For me, I either decide to do a different cosplay or simply cosplay the character without the prop or weapon. For example, I cosplayed Marth at a West Coast convention without his Falchion sword, and did just fine!

8. Try to find a hotel with an ironing board

No matter who beautifully you pack and fold your cosplay, you are bound to get some wrinkling. Especially if you have to wear a t-shirt or dress shirt;, those items easily become wrinkled.

Fortunately, many hotels have an iron and ironing board in the room and it’s included when you book a room. You definitely want to take advantage of this! If your cosplay gear gets wrinkled, you can fix it up when you check-in with your hotel. It’ll look good as new when you iron it!

Speaking of checking in…

9. Immediately remove your cosplay stuff when you check-in

When you settle in your hotel room, you’ll want to take out your cosplay stuff immediately! This is especially true with your cosplay wigs. Although it’s perfectly fine to leave them in your bag or shoebox (as mentioned previously), I prefer to hang my wigs to keep their optimal shape.

If you were able to bring a mannequin head with you, then you can hang your cosplay wig on it. If not, then just find someone tall, such as a large water bottle and use that to hang your wig.

I also prefer to take out my cosplay shoes and any fragile cosplay parts out of the bag as well. That way, you can ensure your cosplay stuff will be in optimal shape when it’s time for the convention.

10. It doesn’t have to be perfect

Kaeya cosplay
One time I forget half my Kaeya costume, so I improvised and did a casual version instead!

Last but not least, I want to express the importance of not being a perfectionist when it comes to cosplaying while traveling. To be fair, it’s difficult to cosplay as well as you normally would at home or with your own vehicle. Having to travel on public transit does make things more difficult.

So if you happen to forget something at home or you weren’t able to bring everything because of size restrictions, then don’t sweat it. Unless you’re competing in a Masquerade, then most people don’t care you’re missing a particular item.

Here are some examples of me when I didn’t have everything:

All those times I cosplayed imperfectly, people still enjoyed and appreciated my cosplays! So you don’t have to worry too much; cosplaying will be fun regardless.

Summary

To summarize, here are the 10 tips on ow to bring your cosplay while flying:

  1. Pick and choose your cosplays wisely
  2. Use a shoe box to protect your wigs
  3. Where to put footwear
  4. Pack your cosplays on the top of the suitcase
  5. Hard-shell or soft-shell bag?
  6. Checked bag will be much easier for you
  7. Cosplay props will be limited, especially on a plane
  8. Try to find a hotel with an ironing board
  9. Immediately remove your cosplay stuff when you check-in
  10. It doesn’t have to be perfect

And there you have it; 10 tips on how to bring your cosplay while flying! I hope you found this post helpful and help you realize that you can travel and cosplay.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below!

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