plastic bottles. with caps. always.
February 24, 2008 5:03 PM   Subscribe

What stuff should I bring with me on tour?

OK, I'm leaving for tour on the 28th for a full US tour (with one or two dates in Canada). I'll be on the road until around April 10th, so it's a long haul away from home. I have probably everything I am going to need, gear wise, but I'm looking for some other suggestions on what to bring. My bags are 1 hiking style backpackfor clothes, 1 messenger bag for laptop etc, and 1 backpack for misc gear. What am I forgetting? What can't I live without? What would be nice to have? What came through for you in the clutch?

As far as the tour goes, it's in a 15 passenger van, six dudes, with trailer. Time wasters are good. Things that make driving easier are better.

thank you.
posted by knowles to Travel & Transportation (30 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Handy wipes. There's nothing better than being in some strange place with dirty hands and being able to wipe them clean. Esp. good when your van breaks down and you get those fingers grubby.
posted by furtive at 5:14 PM on February 24, 2008

Travel Scrabble (with some special alternate rules) really helped me get through my last tour.
posted by drezdn at 5:15 PM on February 24, 2008

travel/mini board games, a few good paperbacks, iPod, good earphones (with some sort of noise cancellation if you can afford it).
posted by willie11 at 5:23 PM on February 24, 2008

Bin bags
posted by fire&wings at 5:29 PM on February 24, 2008

camera, journal/sketchbook
posted by silkygreenbelly at 5:34 PM on February 24, 2008

Tube socks. Wear new ones and throw them out.
posted by jon_kill at 5:35 PM on February 24, 2008

you're going to need a car adapter for your laptop or you're gonna be looking for power ports pretty much all the time. a second battery is going to be nice, too. days inn and local libraries usually have free local wifi, so you can just pull up in their parking lots to check email without wasting $5 or so on starbucks wifi service. that being said, their monthly deal may prove worth it for you.

I'd also pack a small bag of absolute necessities that I'd keep separate from my other stuff in case it got jacked or wet or all that stuff. included should be a bit of cash or a debit card, some clothes, perhaps a second form of id (or a copy) and perhaps some prescriptions or other necessary items. think of it as your "if I should get stranded" pack.

books are something I'd recommend were you not travelling with bandmates but since you are, take a crappy digital camera and snap away. have fun!
posted by krautland at 5:41 PM on February 24, 2008

posted by The corpse in the library at 6:06 PM on February 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

ziploc bags, floss, duct tape, rubberbands, MP3 player/voice recorder (make notes to yourself, interview other people, listen to music/books, tune out bandmates), a few books that you know you'll like especially one on magic tricks and another on hypnotism and one on knot tying, extras of things like sunglasses, extra medicine, esp pain pills and things that help you sleep [benadryl], hidden Powerbar for when you're 100 miles from the next stop and SOMEONE is having a sugar crash, finger puppets, postal addresses of friends/family so you can send them postcards + stamps, sketchbook, pen/pencil box with sharpies, exacto knife, tape, moisturizer, handi-wipes, extra toilet paper, string for practicing knot tying, road atlas to mark your trip and see what fun stuff is coming up, hip flask, epsom salts for hotel bathtub, incense if you swing that way, an extra hat, a special "I'm gonna be home tomorrow" pair of socks, leatherman tool for cutting salami and apples, a good book of "are we there yet" car games, tiny cooler for chilled soda/beer, one "get out of tour free" ticket that you can keep in your wallet and refer to when you're having a really tough time. Have fun!
posted by jessamyn at 6:13 PM on February 24, 2008 [7 favorites]

Addresses of people you want to send post cards to. Even better if you can print them on labels in advance.
posted by furtive at 6:14 PM on February 24, 2008

dental floss + needle = all kinds of repairs. I add a small pair of tweezers but that's maybe not needed if you're not outside getting thorns and splinters.
posted by anadem at 6:23 PM on February 24, 2008

When I was hip and cool and young and on the road with a band, I liked having my own pillow, the ones at Motel 6 are nasty.
posted by Echidna882003 at 6:26 PM on February 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

nintendo gameboy DS with car charger and a bunch of cheap games. Gameboys network, so you can play against the other folks in the van.
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:26 PM on February 24, 2008

You'll probably be doing laundry at laundromats, so pack a dirty laundry bag you can use until you get to a washer/dryer.

You also have a few days before you leave, so as you go about your daily routine, try to make notice of things you use and ask yourself if you can live without them until April 10th.
posted by NoraCharles at 6:52 PM on February 24, 2008

Six dudes in a van? Glade. And a couple o' bottles of Beano.
posted by Rewind at 7:37 PM on February 24, 2008

The all important medicine bag. If you are going all over the place I would have some allergy meds. Stuff for your gut is a good idea and the other basic crap you don't want to have to go find in the middle of the night.
posted by bkeene12 at 7:39 PM on February 24, 2008

Time wasters are good.

Try this. This puzzle is probably one of the hardest electronic puzzles I've ever attempted. They're hard to come by though, you have to watch ebay for them. If you finish it before the end of your tour, my hat's off to you.
posted by JimmyJames at 7:42 PM on February 24, 2008

Most of the suggestions so far are good. The one thing I forgot to bring on my last tour that I missed most was my camera. Earplugs are important. Don't forget your cell phone charger. Addresses are a good idea. Make sure you have some kind of notebook to write things down. Rubber bands and saran wrap will be helpful. Definitely hand wipes. Make sure you've got some movies and music on your laptop you've been meaning to check out. Plenty of headache medicine. Also the best weed you can find.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:44 PM on February 24, 2008

Make sure you have any prescription meds and also useful OTC (tylenol, pepto, etc). Also, if your prescriptions aren't already with a national pharmacy, I'd switch those pronto in case you need refils.
posted by radioamy at 8:31 PM on February 24, 2008

A#1 is comfort items. Whatever you need to get in some decent sleep, and not feel like a hobo, these are the important things. Sleeping bag, one of those travel pillows that goes around your neck, soap etc. Don't worry about a razor. Tour Beards are the norm and fans won't trust you without one. You've got considerably more space than we had (7 dudes in a mini-van, yes we should have left the "tour manager" at home), so you're going to be so so much more comfortable than we were regardless of what you bring. Nothing like driving across Arizona one day and New Mexico the next, and then Texas the next, when you've got a bunch of sweaty band mates and a van that will overheat if you are as demanding as to request that it tow a trailer AND pump AC at the same time. Speaking of vehicles not doing what you want to... bring an owner's guide for your van that describes the basics of maintenance, so that you can take turns ensuring that you'll make it in one piece to the next venue.

other random things in no particular order...

-Extra pad-locks. You'd be amazed how often these will break, and what they're useful for. The pin holding out trailer to the van came out somewhere between las cruces and Dallas, and we would have been townie food unless a hearty cowboy type stopped by on his daily rounds to see what we were up to at 5 am on the side of the highway, and suggested using another padlock to replace the pin. "case-hardened steel...yup that'll hold'r."

-Seconding the car adapter for your laptop charger.

-A change of clothes specifically for when you play, wear this every night. Keeps the rest of your clothes relatively clean.


-ideas for where you'd like to spend the rest days if you have any. we got to hang in a few national parks that none of us had seen before, well worth it.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 8:51 PM on February 24, 2008

flip-flops or Crocs - theres nothing like sitting around doing nothing all day to make my feet stink like crazy. Unfortunately this is a cycle that feeds on itself - once you feet/socks/shoes start to stink a lil bit, everybody in the van is going to bitch at you to keep them on all the time (trapping the stink inside, but also making it worse, meaning you really have to keep them on all the time, continue until you are forced to throw out shoes and socks and buy new ones). Despite thinking crocs were the stupidest thing ever created and making fun of people who wore them for several years, I ended up loving mine. They are incredibly uncomfortable and resistant to stink. Also - it sucks to have to throw socks and shoes on when your making a 10 minute stop at Sheetz for gas and snacks, just throw on the flops or some crocs.

Gold Bond Medicated Body Powder - helps keep areas that are prone to getting stanky smelling fresh and staying dry. Can't recommend this enough for when you're going out post-show and don't have time to shower.

Internet Access - sidekick, laptop, iphone, cellphone the ability to get on the internet for directions is a make or break ability. Long overnight drives can be made easier by the ability to check your email/myspace/send txt messages while driving (clearly this is a stupid idea, but sometimes...)

Empty Plastic Water Bottles and an incredible level of comfort with your bandmates - A time will come when your request for a bathroom break with be voted down and you have to do what you have to do, in front of at least 3 other people in a van hurtling down the highway. Have an empty water or gatorade bottle ready for this moment. A tip - kneel or crouch so that your head is pressed firmly against the roof, this stablizes your body pretty effectively and allows you to relax the muscles around your crotch enough to get the flow started. I also recommend fully inserting yourself into the bottle, when you hit a bump and hose down your band mates you are likely to have a long walk in your immediate future. (On preview, I see that the title of the question makes reference to this, the head to roof trick really works wonders)

Gum, Cold Water, Peanuts - all help me stay awake when driving through the night. Anything that keeps me moving even a little bit helps. Chewing gum or shelling peanuts are good for that.

Sigg or Nalgene bottle to get free water (3 $2 bottles of water a day start to add up.) If you have to buy it, buy a gallon jug.
posted by youthenrage at 9:33 PM on February 24, 2008

more general tips...

a PLAN for loading equipment into your trailer/the back of your van. One specific band member should be charged with loading up all the equipment the day BEFORE you leave, and remembering how EXACTLY it all fit together. You never know when you need to make a quick exit from a show, and it sucks to be exhausted, sweaty, dirty, and possibly drunk and have to unload and reload everything FIVE TIMES before it all fits in the van. Draw a map if you need to and tape it to the door to the van/trailer. We have an possible aspergers/mildly autistic weirdo guitar savant in our band who happens to LOVE ordering things, so we have an advantage.


if you're staying in a hotel/motel, back the van or the the trailer up against a fence or wall, as close as you possibly can, so close that the doors can't open more than an inch or two. This is a priority. A masterlock takes 1 hit from a hammer to open, or a pair of $12 home depot bolt cutters. You are going to be sorry if you do not do this. If you're crashing at houses, don't leave anything in the van that you were planning on keeping.


If you're not on a label or your label sucks, find some silk screen shops that are down with the music scene around the country(ie NOT some guy who makes all the youth soccer shirts for bumfuck idaho ever year) to reorder merch on short turn around. TDT in New Jersey is a reccomended east coast shop. Nothing sucks more than having to find a safe shipping address 3 days in the future, having to pay for Fedex 3day for 100lbs of tight american apparel tshirts and HOPING that the stars align right and you have enough time to get the merch before the show, etc...
posted by youthenrage at 9:49 PM on February 24, 2008

Response by poster: all epic suggestions. also, less than three TDT.
posted by knowles at 10:12 PM on February 24, 2008

Oh, I almost forgot, make sure you have equipment for changing a tire and that it's the right size for your vehicle.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:29 PM on February 24, 2008

Panera bread is a national chain of coffeeshops/restaurants with 100% free wifi. The stores close at 10 or so, but the wifi is 24x7. I try to know as much as I can about free internet along my route. Never toured musically but I've been to 48 states, most of them wandering about in a VW van. Internet access is very handy for directions and all kinds of other unexpected things. Using your own laptop is safer than any public use PC. Who knows what kind of password-harvesting key-stroke-grabbing software could be on there. You also generally can't use a rental PC from the parking lot when the place is closed.
posted by jester69 at 10:43 PM on February 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you are traveling in a van... bring a pillow, or better, several since everybody will fight over them. Helps you sleep while travelling. A good clasp knife (I used Opinel big size) that can double as a small kitchen knife for cutting bread and eating in hotels (Swiss Army won't cut it.) I actually carry a tea mug and electric coil water heater so I can have tea in my hotel rooms. And ditto on Ziploc bags, big ones - breakfast buffets are your lunch and snacks for the day... (of course, I tour mostly in Europe.) Also: a walkman, MP3 player, anything with headphones. After traveling and working with my musicians (who keep awake while driving by arguing and playing bad 70s music on the stereo and make snarky comments on everything... in Hungarian, no less) the last thing I want to do is tell them to shut up and turn that damn music off in the van - so I just listen to my walkman, hide under my pillow in the back seat, and tune them out.
posted by zaelic at 2:38 AM on February 25, 2008

Mod note: comment removed - if you want ot give the OP shoplifting tips, feel free to do it over email, or in metatalk
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:34 AM on February 25, 2008

n-thing the water bottle idea. If you have something of decent quality, you'll be better off.

Bring a metal tube (like, part of an old metal vacuum) that will be handy for changing tires. Nothing sucks more than trying to change a tire in pitch black on the side of the road with only the wrench that came with the van. Use that metal tube for extra leverage (there's something in there about simple machines. I think it goes the farther away from the fulcrum that the force is applied, the less force required...)

Also, a small, powerful flashlight, that doesn't take wierd batteries. The ability to change batteries is worth it, and relying on cell-phone light gets old fast.

Hit up used book stores along the way. Get cheap books on things you never thought you'd learn about. My favorite was cosmology. If you finish a book, you could always sell it at another used book store at a later town. Having rad things to talk about can make for very interesting conversations at shows.

Specify who moves what gear at each show. Make sure people have responsibilities, and won't take off when stuff needs to get done. And make sure that your bands money is safe. Keep good tabs on it, so that you don't end up losing chunks of it.
posted by tomcochrane at 10:06 AM on February 25, 2008

I came accross Bandago (15-passenter) tour van rental -- the electronic features (video/ipod/xbox) looks like they would be useful/entertaining.
posted by fourstar at 10:37 AM on February 25, 2008

Bring some work-type gloves to use when loading gear in and out of the van: this can help eliminate scraped knuckles and such, which you don't want if you have to play your instrument every night.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:25 AM on February 26, 2008

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