PACK LIGHT: TRAVEL TIPS FOR MUSICIANS
“You’re packing like you’re moving to China”, is something my father always told me when leaving for family vacations. Always one to have at least two bags, “Bag Lady” by Erykah Badu is my theme song when traveling. I’m always receiving warnings about future back problems because of it. But I rebuke that, lol. I like to bring enough stuff to make sure I am very comfortable on long trips and prepared for any situation.
As a traveling musician however, you would be ill advised to do that. There is not enough room on the bus and you don’t want to be overloaded as you are running through the airport terminal to catch your flight. Here are several ways you can pack light on your tour.
Purchase a travel case that will hold all of your personal items, instruments and equipment. Find one that has multiple compartments or one that will allow for multiple travel packs, where you can safely store your equipment, clothing and accessories.
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A tour “uniform” allows you to pack only the essential pieces you need for performances and public appearances. Pack costumes and clothes that will provide multiple fashion options as you travel. Look out for hotels and laundromats along your tour route to wash when necessary. Make sure you carry enough change for the washing machines and dryers.
Carry an IPAD or a small laptop for business affairs. Use your cell phone to send and receive emails, journal your tour experiences and to hold conference calls with your manager, promoter or important staff.
Bring essential staff such as a manager, publicist, assistant or roadie with you to manage your business, run errands or to take pictures while you are busy doing promotional runs. If you are going on a large tour, a good sound person is worth the expense to travel with you, to bring out the best sound possible for performances. Bring a body guard if necessary. Traveling with a large group of people while on tour increases your hotel, food and transportation costs; not to mention staffing expenses. Lesson your load by handling small tasks such as hair and make up to keep your tour budget to a minimum.
Carrying around large sums of money while on tour is dangerous. You may get robbed or better yet, be tempted to spend the money and not have any funds left at the end of the tour for your personal expenses. To minimize theft and overspending, have the promoter deposit the funds into your bank account right before your performance, so that you can receive the funds and verify the deposit before you step on stage. If for some reason you prefer to be paid in cash, make deposits along your route to ensure you will have some savings at the end of the tour.