WHO ARE THEY? Anastasiia ‘Nastya’ Mishchenko (left), 25, and Oleksii ‘Alex’ Mishchenko (right), 34. The Ukrainian professional acrobats perform the aerial silk segment in Cirque Adrenaline, the theatrical show where they execute death-defying stunts suspended in the air with fabric straps. In one year, the married couple has toured with the circus with their five-year-old son Kyryl to cities like Melbourne, Beijing, Abu Dhabi, Lebanon and — from now until Dec 25 — Singapore. “We usually stay about five days in each city, but Beijing was the longest [stint]. We spent two months there,” shares Nastya.
1. Memorise your packing list
Thanks to their job, Alex and Nastya have to catch a flight every other day, which means they’re constantly packing and unpacking. They’ve whittled their packing time to just 20 minutes to an hour. Their trick? Have a mental checklist. “We travel so often that we’ve pretty much memorised what we need by now,” Nastya says. For the rest of us, there is the good ol’ pen and paper... or the Notes app on your phone.
2. Put your kids to good use
Shopped too much? Avoid overweight charges by using your children’s baggage allowance. “Whenever we’ve packed too much, we check in bags with the airline under our son’s name,” Nastya quips.
3. Being bendy helps you sleep better on the plane
Think about this the next time you’re tempted to skip yoga. According to Nastya, you need to contort yourself pretty much into a human pretzel to comfortably snooze on a flight. “I usually [fidget] in my seat ’cos there’s not enough space. Sometimes I end up drawing my knees up to support my chin as I sleep.” Alex also reckons it’s easier to sleep when he folds himself into a comfortable position in his seat. “We are very used to [contorting our bodies],” he muses.
4. Pack your workout equipment
Since being fit is part of their job, Alex and Nastya bring along portable exercise gear like elastic stretch bands and retractable poles so they can work out anytime, anywhere. For the rest of us, packing a yoga mat for a quick sesh may help alleviate that food coma from all that pigging out you’re doing on vacay. “We usually shift the beds and tables around in our hotel room so we can have more space to exercise,” says Nastya. “We also move our son’s bed next to ours so we can sleep next to one another.”
5. Pack things that pull double-duty
Nastya always travels with a bunny soft toy that Alex gave her as a birthday present which doubles up as a pillow on a flight. She says, “I hug it when I miss my son ’cos I can’t take him with me sometimes. People always think the rabbit belongs to him, but it’s actually mine! (Laughs)”
6. Double check that your luggage is secured in taxis
After boarding a taxi, Alex and Nastya did not realise that one of their suitcases had fallen out of the boot. Nastya recalls: “We were so careless. The suitcase that fell out contained my beautiful costumes with Swarovski crystals all over them. I loved those costumes! We never found that bag, and I cried and cried. Now we always do a check before the taxi moves off.”
7. Customise your bags to make packing easier
The couple’s prized possession is a props bag that they customised, which is decked out with straps hand-made by Alex, as well as metal links and loops that the couple uses for their onstage stunts. “We used to stuff our props into our own suitcases, but it was messy and things were everywhere. So we got a long bag that could fit everything in perfectly, and we just check that bag in,” says Alex. The couple also buys sew-on flag patches of their countries they’ve visited and sews them onto the bag as souvenirs. “We would’ve liked to add more patches, but they’re really hard to find,” Alex laughs.