Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tips for Kinky Travelers

We've done a great deal of traveling this summer. We've gone to kinky events and visited family and friends. We've had our travel plans disrupted by Delta's computer problems and seen the aftermath of Southwest's computer issues. We thought we would put together some of our experiences and tips to share.

We had a really nice weekend getting to spend time with family, which is always enjoyed and appreciated. We seem to travel a lot--mostly because we enjoy it--but hotels can be challenging for play.

That wasn't the case a few weeks ago when we were in Denver for Thunder in the Mountains. We could do whatever we wanted in our room because the whole of the hotel was booked for the conference! That was liberating.

So with gaps under hotel room doors, "neighbors" with kids, and that sort of thing it's hard to figure out the best way to play. I remember one of my first play parties out of town. It was Florida Moonshine's Back to School party in Tampa and it was being held at what we affectionately ended up calling The Bates Motel. I'm sure that paints a picture.
Sometimes it seems like we are on the road more than we are at home. Not literally, of course; but if you add in the time spent packing, preparing, unpacking, and resetting from the trip, it might come close. Every trip is different, naturally, but I’ve developed a few tricks depending on the type of trip.

When I’m packing to travel to a kink event, I start with considering the specific event and the agenda. Some events will require multiple costume changes or particular outfits. Other events might be more casual. But each event has it’s own look and feel - something I like to consider because I’m more comfortable when I feel like I know what’s expected.

So I research the event. I think about the specific activities we have planned for the trip. Sometimes Craig will give me a list of specific outfits he wants me to bring along. With those outlines in mind, I suggest:
So I was attempting to have a scene. Well, I wasn't attempting because the scene was well underway in one of the hotel rooms. It was going really well...until the neighbor banged on the wall and said, "Keep it down!" Mind you, it was the middle of the afternoon (as I recall) so I was a bit shocked by this.

Rather than laugh it off and switch to something quieter (canes, nipple clamps, etc.) it completely threw me off the scene. I've only experienced a few times there was scene kill—a couple times brought on by me and other times from the bottom or something happening in the environment. Usually, if it's the environment, I can shake it off and move on, but not this time. The scene ground to a screeching halt, much to our chagrin.

So I'll offer a few tips if you're traveling:

Tip #1: "Soundproof" Your Room
On other trips I've rolled towels to jam under doors to try to quiet the sounds. I've had bottoms clap their hands in the room while I walked up and down the halls. Some would say, "So what? Let 'em hear!" But in a public place (well, a hotel is semi-public) I don't need someone calling the cops and I certainly don't want to foist my kink on some unsuspecting family with kids.

I will digress further for a moment: at Thunder a presenter domme told of how her slave meets her at the airport when she returns from a trip and the first thing she has him do is get on his knees and kiss her feet. I think it's rather irresponsible to do something like this in front of families, regardless of your protocol, kink, or dynamic.

Tip #2: Try a Silent Scene
We've talked a number of times about Silent Scenes. You can find out about them here and here.

Tip #3: Stay at a Suite Hotel
They are a little more expensive, but all-suite hotels like Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites, and Residence Inns put some distance between the bedroom and the hallway. I like Embassy Suites. I request a room at the end of a hall so I only have a neighbor on one side. This is really specific but many older Embassy Suites were built with cinder block construction, so between room soundproofing is better than hotels with standard construction.

Yet another digression: be prepared to have your bag checked by TSA. If you're not into humiliation play this may be a problem for you. I check my toy bag and inevitably when I get to the hotel I can see my floggers, canes, and crops have all been rummaged through, whether TSA leaves a note or not (and they often do, but less so these days). If I'm not checking a bag, then...

Tip #4: Get a Set of "Travel Toys"
I try not to check bags for just a weekend. If we are going to a spanking or kink party/conference I will bring and check my roll-along toy bag. But if it's just a weekend getaway checking bags is such a nuisance. So I collected a set of toys just for traveling, a short 26" cane, a short crop, a leather paddle, and a hairbrush. None of these items have metal inside (I made sure of it) so they are less conspicuous on the TSA x-ray. I almost never get stopped/searched with these toys.

Just on this last trip my bag went through the x-ray three times. Finally, TSA pulled it (and me) aside, opened my bag and started to rummage through it. Lizzie's job is to pack our bags when we travel, so I had no idea what he was looking for. I'd just had a cigar cutter that had been in my bag for months removed by security in China the week before, so it wasn't that. Finally, he pulled out a small velvet bag. Oops! He opened it to see...Lizzie's glass butt plugs and lube.

I stopped getting embarrassed by such things ages ago. I stood there unfazed. Having seen it all (I'm sure), he was unfazed too. He put the bag back in the suitcase and set us on our way.

Hopefully these tips might come in handy. Either way, I hope you enjoyed my little anecdotes. Happy travels, Fellow Kinksters!
Tip #1: Double your undies, double your pleasure.
I pack two pairs of underwear for nearly every outfit I lay out. It’s an easy way to give myself options without greatly increasing the amount of fabric I’m packing. I might not feel like a thong that afternoon. And you never know when a pair of perfectly fitting underwear will betray you by cutting right into the worst sore spot left from an earlier scene. And at the risk of oversharing - if I’m going to take the time to “freshen up” before a scene but not change my outfit, it’s nice to have a fresh pair of panties that matches.

Tip #2: Try it on before you pack it.
Unless the item in question is part of your everyday wardrobe, slip it on to double check the fit. Look in the mirror to make sure it fits like you remember. There’s no reason to pack an ill-fitting or uncomfortable garment when you have limited packing space.

Tip #3: Don’t neglect your comfort.
Unless that’s your kink, in which case, you should disregard this tip entirely. It’s wonderful to dress up at an event. Personally, that’s one of my favorite things - seeing and wearing fabulous costumes and outfits. But if the event requires much walking, I’ll be wearing my most comfortable shoes at least part of the time. If I know that I’m going to engage in a particularly arduous scene, I’ll pack an outfit that accommodates any expected stress points. And for the trip home, or any other time I might be leaving the event space, I like to pack something that covers the marks I don’t care to share with the vanilla world at large.

But even when we aren’t going to a kink event or traveling for expressly kinky purposes, Craig and I are likely to engage in our kink whenever the opportunity presents itself. So the following tips relate to my packing in general, wherever I’m headed.

Tip #4: Look at your bag like an x-ray machine.
Whether you’re packing an entire bag of kinky outfits, toys, and paraphernalia or just including a few favorite items, it’s important to consider how you put those things in the bag. An item that can be clearly seen, even if it is something potentially embarrassing, is one that won’t be pulled out for inspection. If you’re carrying something that will need to be pulled out, pack it on top or in an exterior pocket. Ease of access means they won’t be pawing through your underthings or tossing your other toys across the counter searching for the one that’s caught their attention.

Tip #5: Take the batteries out.
Just do it. If you don’t want to watch TSA try it out, remove the batteries. Trust me when I say - no one wants to watch that.

Hopefully, you’ve found a tip or two that you can use to make packing for your next trip easier. Whatever you do, don’t let the limitations of packing limit your kink! As always, if you have any thoughts or questions, leave a comment or drop us a line.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Thunder in the Mountains Report

We went to Thunder in the Mountains last weekend, a big pansexual BDSM conference and play party in Denver. As promised last week, here's our report from the event.

Note: First picture from the Thunder in the Mountains photo gallery at http://thunderinthemountains.com/.

Lizzie had been to Thunder a few years ago and was agog with the variety of things she saw and learned about at this huge conference and play party. Most of all, she had many tales of the massive dungeon they set up in the hotel's large convention space. It took at least four years for us to get the schedules to align for us to go together.

First of all, the hotel lobby featured a well-lured Pokémon stop that was accessible (most of the time) from our near-lobby hotel room. That's all I'm going to say about that.

After lunch, we registered for the conference and later went to a mixer/orientation where the conference organizers went over the rules (if you have a phone in the dungeon it will be taken and put in an aquarium) and introductions made to the fine roster of speakers. After dinner we went to the dungeon. Holy shit.

At 50,000 sq. ft. the place filled a convention hall. There was a huge dome-shaped "jungle gym" set up for suspension play, easily 25-feet in diameter. There were walls of St. Andrew's crosses, an entire room set up with scaffold for rope and suspension play. There was a pony track and a puppy play area, tables for medical play. It was a bit overwhelming, seeing so many play stations so full of people doing so many strange and fantastic things.

Lizzie had a headache (either from the altitude or dehydration or both) so we just observed Friday night, then went to bed to be rested and ready for the next day.

Lizzie's headache remained when we awoke, so I left her in bed and headed off to my first class of Thunder, Rough Body Play with Dunter, a funny and excellent presenter. As an ex-military and an ongoing martial arts expert he was the perfect person to learn more about how to push and punch innocent little girls around. I took copious notes and could hardly wait to try out these newfound techniques on my pain slut.
Several years ago, I attended Thunder with a couple friends I’d met in the spanking scene. That first time was a mind boggling experiences for me. I was still fairly new to the spanking scene, I’d never been to a dungeon before, and I’d never gone to any type of BDSM event.

I have vivid memories of fantastic costumes, classes that covered topics beyond my imagination, and scenes that I could not pull myself away from. While looking for anything I had written about the event, I found this picture of something I wore - here.

I had taken notes during some of the classes for Craig, all the time wishing he could be attending himself. Since then, we’ve been trying to make it work in our schedules to go back together.

But I have changed a great deal since that first trip. I’ve played regularly in a dungeon and been exposed to a much wider variety of play styles outside the spanking community. I’ve attended various leather and BDSM events, including phenomenal experiences at BOLD (which you can read about here and here).

So I knew my expectations had changed and I anticipated that my perception of the event might be very different this time. And I worried a bit that, after talking about this for so long, it might not stand up to Craig’s expectations. All said, I approached the weekend with a set of nerves that went well beyond having brought the right clothes for the event. But like so many things we worry about, there was no reason to worry about this.

The dungeon was everything I remembered, but maybe even larger. I *need* that jungle gym in my life. Not for suspension or even a scene, I just want it! My first time at Thunder, it was unoccupied when I first saw it, so I was able to clamber up it in my heels. This time, there was always a scene going on within, so I wasn’t able to play on it. But I dream about having one of those for myself.
By the time that session was over, Lizzie was up and feeling better. We headed off to the next session, The Enema of my Enema is my Friend (winner best session name ever!). It was a pretty basic enema play class, but we still managed to learn a few new things.

After lunch we went to The High Art of Protocol, which I thought would be about new ways for subs/slaves to interact with their tops/masters, but instead it was about putting on fancy, high-manners Downton Abbey-style dinners. Evidently I hadn't read the description, because this was more Martha Stewart than Marquis de Sade.

We skipped the second afternoon session to explore the extensive vendor fair, discovering some vendor friends from the spanking parties and meeting new sellers with curious and clever implements and gadgets. If you checked out our video last week then you know what kind of stuff we found. We also picked up some new corsets for Lizzie, which she looks amazing in, of course.

After dinner we headed back to the dungeon, this time ready to play. I dragged my toy bag with me and Lizzie was dressed in a skin-tight sexy fetish-y black leatherette and spandex dress, with no panties, as I had ordered.

We waited in a line that wrapped around hallways probably 300-feet or more before the organizers opened the doors and everyone went in. With so many people in line I was sure the dungeon would be filled to capacity by the time we got there, but the space was so enormous that it still looked relatively empty when we went through the threshold.

Rather than tour the dungeon again, we beelined it to a St. Andrew's cross, wanting to make sure we staked our spot for our scene before the place filled up. Lizzie set to cleaning while I got out my roster of implements and soon I was tying her up to the cross, naked.
Just walking around the dungeon space that first night was overwhelming. Of course, traveling in that day didn’t help - I’m always far more bothered by travel than Craig seems to be. We met a few people and checked out a few scenes. The energy in the space this year was one of movement. Few people stayed to watch an entire scene the way they do at our local dungeons. Instead they move through the space, taking in bits of everything as they go. For me, this was a bit too stimulating so we headed to bed early.

The next morning I stayed in bed with a headache. Altitude and pressure changes are big triggers for my migraines, so I think we were both worried I would spend the weekend hiding in our room. But it wasn’t a migraine! The headache passed with a bit of extra sleep.

We went together to “The Enema of my Enema is my Friend,” the topic of which should be fairly obvious. It was geared more for people who were just starting to explore this topic, but there are always things to learn.

We went next to a Protocol class, which wasn’t at all what we had been expecting. Nothing wrong with the class - it was a well prepared presentation with lots of information about the topic of hosting a fancy event. But for us, I think that falls more in the realm of our vanilla lives. It did make me curious about planning something a little more elaborate at home for our kinky friends. I could combine my love of hosting with my overwhelming love of costumes into something quite picturesque.

We skipped the second afternoon sessions in favor of returning to the vendor fair. We posted a video last week showing our initial finds there. But we wanted to take a closer look at a few things. I tried on several corsets, and Craig bought two of them for me! (Did I mention that I love costumes?)
Both Lizzie and I noted after our scene it was hard to focus with so many sounds and activity around us. People screamed! There were odd mechanical sounds. Chain winches chick, chick, chicked. People paraded past behind us.

We had a good, intense, and hard scene (as you can see). Lizzie noted that as we played the cross to our left had three changes of play partners and the one to our right had two. And as we wrapped up there was a "queue" of two other play partners waiting to use our cross.

Needless to say, I still managed a dragon's tail, spanking, strapping, belt, cane, multiple paddles and my new new dastardly implements before our hour-long scene was done.

We walked around the dungeon and saw many strange and interesting things before grabbing a nightcap and heading off to bed.

In the morning, Lizzie went to a class on Anticipatory Service while I caught up with work email. After that, she came back to the room and set about to packing up while I went to an absolutely fantastic class, Creative Mindfuckery with presenter Danarama. What a truly great course that filled my head with so many ideas for future scenes. And Danarama has got to be one of the most creative sadists in the scene.

We headed off for the airport after that, sorry to miss the afternoon sessions, but it was Sunday afternoon and we had to get back to our vanilla lives.

It was great seeing the spectacle of Thunder and discovering so many new people outside the MDHL community we call home. The classes were great, the attendance impressive and that dungeon!
We also had time for Craig to try out the moves he had learned in his first session about rough body play. We have wrestled before, but I grew up as very scrappy tom-boy in a rural area, frequently wrestling with people both bigger and stronger than me. Most of the things he had learned were really useful. His demonstration of what he had learned turned into a scene of it’s own in our hotel room.

After dinner, we had plans for a scene in the dungeon. We had gotten a feel for the space and energy the night before, so we knew we needed to go early to stake out a spot. But we got there so early we ended up standing in a long line of people waiting for the dungeon to open.

Craig, as always, gives a better description of our actual scene. It was a good, intense, and lengthy scene. But I wasn’t able to sink into it the way that I usually do. I found the energy in the dungeon a bit distracting.

The next morning, I packed up our things while Craig attended a class. Then he caught up on some work while I attended a class. The classes were my favorite part of Thunder the first time I attended and that still holds true.

There’s something incredible to me about going to a presentation on a kinky topic. Regardless of the topic, I find there’s always something new to learn. And there’s something magical about people taking the time to share what they’ve learned about their kinks with the community. It’s easy to focus on the scenes or the play, but it’s special to see the insights and strength people have gained.

I’m very glad we had the opportunity to go to Thunder this year. I’m more motivated now to find other new events to explore. So if you’ve got a favorite, leave it in the comments, send an email, or send a message on FetLife!