Travel For Musicians
You've booked you gig, your tour, or you've got to travel a few states over to do some studio work for a few days. You'll need to make sure you've gotten a few things in order before you head out the door.
After you have your material ready make sure you have created a list of all the things you will need prior to your trip so you have enough time to pack and gather anything you don't already have.
I travel a lot for gigs and working with other artists and producers so what is probably the most important is my ride. Even if you have a car that is 10 years old you'll want to make sure it has the basics. Have 4 good all weather tires and a spare. AAA is cheap and definitely has come in handy for more than a tow. They offers lots of services from a battery jump or getting you back in your car after you've locked yourself out. They will even bring you gas if you are stranded.
The best cars for you will depend on how much space you will need. Don't discount sedans in your search for the perfect vehicle. Some are huge and can really save you of gas. My cover band fits our entire PA system into one of the bandleaders sedan. A great thing to do is bring a piece of equipment if you're looking for a new vehicle.
The next best thing is renting a vehicle. If Avis, hertz and the rest won't work for you,
try Bandago. They specialize in renting large vans to bands and they even include some equipment rentals.
Remembering your GPS will save you lots of time or having the address ready on your phone GPS is great also. It's always a good habit to at least mapquest your directions so you have a general idea of where you're going in case your GPS goes haywire while your in transit.
Check to see what equipment the venue your are booked with may have. If you have a chance to check it out before your performance day, go see how things are setup and what condition the equipment is in. Every venue will take care or its equipment differently and some not at all. You don't want to find out which you're playing at when you arrive without the pieces you may need to replace.
Aside from your regular equipment, you may want to bring some extra especially if you're traveling far or in an area that you don't know if you'll be able to replace something important. Have extra batteries for your cordless mics and guitar pedals, mic clips, mics, extension cords, earplugs in case you or a band member forgets them and have extra cords for your amps. Don't forget some black electrical or duct tape can really save the day on a number of things!
Don't overlook bringing toiletries. You may forget you ordered onion rings and your show consists of you going out into the crowd a few times. The last thing you want is to turn people off by blowing your hot breath oniony in their face. Bring some mouthwash or toothpaste and a toothbrush. Sanitizer and/or wipes will also come in handy.
Take some time before you leave to figure out your options for lodging if you're traveling far. If you take your chances waiting until the last minute, you're last resort may be sleeping in your ride and that just may get cramped if you don't have a comfy van or tour bus.
Would you stay at a strangers house while on tour?
Don't rely on just hotels in the area. See if you have friends or family nearby where you'll be. Also, there you may want to try out some new services like Couch Surfing and Better Than The Van to stay with people who sign up to let people stay with them for free. Some musicians will shout out to their fans to see if they can crash at their space, especially if they are doing a performance at someone's house. It's not for everyone, but it is an option. I haven't tried either of the latter, but it works for people and maybe you'll want to explore those options.
Just don't forget what I mention all the time, bring your business cards. They should be with you at all time's just like your ID. Once you hit the road, grab a water and make sure you do this last and very important thing: Enjoy yourself! Traveling as an artist or musician should be fun. You're getting a chance to display your talent and maybe make money from it.