Useful Travel Tips That Save Time and Money For Musicians
Musicians, bands, DJ’s, promoters, sound engineers, lighting riggers, catering staff, runners – they all spend countless hours waiting in airports, passing through security and customs, squashed on airplanes, standing at hotel receptions and all on little or no sleep.
The music industry can be exhausting, so the less mental and physical energy you expend arranging travel to your destination, the better prepared you’ll feel when you arrive at your destination.
Here are my most useful travel tips for touring musicians.
Before Your Trip / Enroute
It can be a hassle carrying around loyalty cards for various companies. So, follow travel companies on social media, especially Twitter, as often they run promotions, giveaways and special deals for destinations. Zalyn is another good website that gives you promotional codes for rental cars.
Make yourself a master packing list – adapters, chargers, noise-canceling headphones for traveling, comfy socks….anything that makes you adjust to life on the road.
Backup Your Material
Ensure that you have more than one backup (especially anything electronic like samplers, and drum machines). Use a cloud-based storage service like Dropbox with backup copies uploaded and ready if you need them. Carry a USB memory stick full of your music (for compatible CDJs and most computer systems). Maintain great relationships with all of your endorsing companies. You (or your tech) need to feel confident to be able to pick up the phone and have a spare or replacement part shipped out to you immediately if there are any emergencies.
Tuesday Is The Best Day For Booking Flights
Flight prices vary by airline and date of travel. Airlines are pretty good at cranking up flight prices to coincide with school breaks and holiday seasons. The best day to find airfare deals is Tuesday. Why? Because airlines generally release their promotions on Mondays, and by Tuesday competing airlines are fighting to lower their prices to secure passengers.
Choose Your Airplane Seat Wisely
When making your reservation, if you’re not lucky enough to be flying first or business class, try to book a seat at the back of the plane.
During the boarding process, passengers seated in the rear of the aircraft are boarded immediately after first class, business class, families and special assistance passengers.
As one of the first on-board, you will have more time to check out the overhead storage, and choose where to stow your luggage or instruments. Check out SeatGuru for details of plane seating plans, and pitch on seats.
Avoid Luggage Dramas
Checking in luggage? Put a ‘Fragile’ sticker on it. Generally, these items are packed last by baggage handlers so they are on top, and they are first out on the baggage carousel.
Most airlines give maximum allowable dimensions as L x W x H (total linear inches). Linear inches is basically the sum of the three dimensions. (For example, if your luggage has dimensions of 25′ x 10′ x 10′, the linear measure would be 45 inches.) So, while your luggage may not fit into one of those standard “size wise” measuring devices at the gate, it may very well be within the allowable linear maximum. Make sure you know the linear measurements of your luggage, especially if taking instruments or fragile band equipment as your carry-on allowance.
Remove all extraneous items from your luggage/cases. All tools and other items should be in your checked baggage, or carried separately to simplify the screening process. What may seem completely familiar items to you – cleaning fluids, tools, end pins, reed knives, tuners, metronomes – may seem dodgy to screening personnel.
Download These Useful Mobile Applications Prior To Your Departure
TripCase – Any travel bookings you make will feed into one itinerary with all your reservation and booking numbers in one place. Highly recommended.
AllSubway – Just 99cents on the App Store on iTunes, this app has the most important world cities subway maps. They can be downloaded offline to your iPhone or iPod touch. Very useful in case you get stuck without a driver, can’t find a taxi, and no data, you can find your way around.
iTranslateVoice – If you are crossing multiple time zones, this is a sanity-saver. A translation app where you speak your native language and it can translate into 42 languages.
Word Lens – A cool app that helps translate in foreign countries. Use it to translate traffic signs, menus, directions etc
Try Your Luck For A Flight Upgrade
Ever sat on a plane in a full economy class and seen loads of empty seats in business class? One of the reasons cabin crew don’t fill the empty business class seats with economy passengers is meal allocations (the meals onboard are allocated pre-flight dependent on passenger details).
Ask if you could move to business class but keep the economy meal.
The worst time to try and wing an upgrade is a morning flight or early evening as that is when corporates travel the most, and cabin crew will always upgrade (a) business people (b) passengers with loyalty points – before you. Your chances are really low if you’re wearing scruffy clothes.
At Your Destination / On Tour
Check in with family and friends via Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, FaceTime, email or phone.
Major hotels and airports would lose business if they didn’t have WiFi today. However, you may find being on the road means you drop connections. Try TunnelBear for VPN, or services like Tep Wireless. Sometimes, internet searches can find you free WiFi hotspots via sites like www.free-hotspot.com
Remember Where You Are Staying
Always write down the name of your accommodation or take a business card from the front desk. If you are in a foreign country at least you will have the name and address of the hotel, residence etc.
Look After Your Body
Eat well and try to exercise, even if you just walk around the block. Touring is tiring. Don’t go to the club every chance you get. Take some time off.
Lots of people in the music industry are also students. Use your student status to your advantage by asking if any student discounts apply everywhere you go – restaurants, hotels, train stations, attractions. 99% of places will ask for a valid student I.D, but you can usually travel with an expired I.D and not experience a problem.
Any Other Tips?