In response, I started writing my own list.
Here are my
7 Essentials Bands Often Forget to Bring on Their First Tour:
#1. Contracts in Triplicate
We never leave for tour without well-organized contracts. I have copies online, copies on my computer, and a binder with printed copies. It gives me all the practical info about time, place, and contacts. The printed copies are handy to pull out when you arrive at the gig and there are disagreements about fees, etc.
#2. Non-Perscription Drugs
Obviously you need your prescriptions, but I also bring a stash of antihistamines, aspirins, and vitamins. I've been known to put a thermometer and cold medication in my bag during cold/flu season. To save space, I pack our pills in small baggies (one baggie for each pill type). Write the name, dose, and instructions for each pill on the baggie with a sharpie. You never know when a headache or sniffle will hit, and Murphy's Law tells you the closest Walmart will be an hour away.
#3. GPS - Online & Offline
We love the ease of using Google Maps on our iPhones. However, on our first few tours, we found ourselves in rural areas with no signal. Since then, we've added an offline GPS to our phones. They take up a bit of space as you need to download the maps to your phone, but they're worth it. If space is an issue, just add the ones you need before the tour and delete them after.
#4. Car Care
In the rush before the tour, your car can be overlooked, but on the tour itself, a healthy car is vital. Before leaving, get an oil change, ideally at a garage that includes an overall safety check. Make sure your CAA/AAA membership is up to date. And depending on season and area, consider purchasing new windshield wipers or snow tires.
#5. Change of Season Clothes
Before leaving for tour, check out the general weather reports for your tour area, and be aware of changing seasons. In our first tours, we packed for fall, but winter came early. We found ourselves shopping for winter coats and mittens. It was annoying to have to buy items we already had at home, not to mention the added time, and trying to find space for big coats in an already full car. Now, we pack a bag for our daily clothes, and store anything extra in vacuum-packed bags under the seats.
#6. Your Smart Phone
Okay, I know you're not going to forget your phone, but taking advantage of apps will save you a tonne of space when packing. In addition to being our phone, my iPhone is also my camera, video camera, alarm clock, tuner, metronome, voice recorder, GPS, and e-book reader. We use songwriting apps to turn hours of driving into creative time. My phone contains my vocal warm-up, my Bible, and my morning devotional. And one of the most valuable tools: my phone takes credit card payments! How, you ask? Read on...
If you sell CDs or any kind of product, you need Square! Perfect for the indie musician, Square is a free app that allows you to take credit card payments. I could write an entire blogpost about how much I love Square. It's easy to use with lots of free resources. They take a small percentage (which you can write off) and handle the full transaction for you. The money is literally deposited into your bank account, so you're not responsible for handling anyone's credit info. And you'll find a huge increase in sales. People without cash will be able to purchase CDs, but also, folks with only a $10 in their pocket will sometimes choose credit cards so they can make a larger purchase. Seriously, I could talk all day about Square...
BONUS: #8. Paper Towels
Poke a roll of paper towels and/or wet wipes in the back seat. At some point, a drink will spill or mud will get on the speaker or some other type of mess will happen. At that moment, you'll be so glad you thought to pack them!
So, these are my 8 essentials for your tour. It should go without saying, but remember extra cords, batteries, chargers, and any other small tech thing you might need. Have a backup of any midi programs, tracks, etc, on a hard drive.
Our motto: It's better to have it than wish we did!
Please feel free to add your suggestions in the Comments section.
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