In Part-Two of of Laura Lloyd’s Series: How to Tour Like a Decent Human Being, the No Joy band member gets deep, exploring road food (good and bad) and how to score accommodations. Enjoy!
So, you’re a new act. You may not have a booking agent, manager or even developed enough brainpower to figure out how to survive on tour. Money is tight and everyone is broke. You hardly know what day it is, let alone which state you’re in. This is normal. Here are some tips on how to survive as a broke bum on tour.
We need food to live, so don’t fuck this one up. Fortunately, when you’re young your body can probably handle a month of caloric-trans-fat abuse. This is a really fun and exciting time in your life. I’ve been to a lot of fast food restaurants; some are good because they are greasy and soak up all the booze from the previous night and some are even better because they actually seem somewhat fresh (lol). Here are my picks if you dare go the fast food route.
Best gross fast food:
Whataburger (VERY large delicious burgers. Option of Texan toast bread)
Carls Jr (I can’t tell you what’s good, only that our drummer loves it)
Chik-fil-a (Morals aside, everyone swears their chicken sandwich is the bomb)
McDonald’s dollar menu (For the extremely un-balling budget)
Best less-gross fast food:
In & Out (Freshly made, milkshakes, lemonade, ice tea, vegetarian options)
Chipotle (Enough food to feed you for an entire day, also delicious)
Every few days on tour (or every day if you’re of the my-body-is-a-temple tribe) you’re going to need to eat something that will trick you into thinking you’re being healthy (realistically one green meal a week is not going to cut it, but the placebo effect is all you need to maintain your sanity). Here are my picks.
There is no other option: Whole Foods has pre-made food that is healthy, including a build-your-own salad bar with shit like kale. Warning to you foodies out there, their kale is not pre-massaged.
Another great way to save money in regards to food is to ask for the right shit on your rider. Not candy, not cigarettes, and not pita chips – unless you want to hate pita chips for the rest of your life. Ask for things to make sandwiches – bread, cheese, cold cuts and veggies. This is stuff you can take with you when you leave the venue and eat for breakfast the next day when you pull it out of your van’s cooler. Your van should have a cooler (don’t let chicken bones roll around on the floor).
Finding a decent place to stay is an artform. Here’s a trick I picked up on the road: ask people whether or not they are having a party at their house. If you’re like me and require regular sleep, assessing the sleep sitch (A.S.S.) is essential. If you are offered a ‘parents’ house to sleep in, this is by all means the jackpot (read: free breakfast, guest rooms, clean bathroom, family dog (bonus)). If you are offered “floor space and a spot in my bed” avoid this situation. This person is likely a creep for offering to share a bed with you, a virtual stranger. The tricks to pick up on for a decent place to stay are: a bed, an air mattress, 2+ couches, less than 3 roommates, and someone who doesn’t have to leave at 8am for work, thus kicking you out. To avoid a party, ask: “what are you doing after this? Are you having people over?”, any answer other than “nothing” is completely unacceptable.
If you are a band that can splurge on the occasional hotel, Priceline and Hotwire are your best friends. If you want the best bang for your buck, pick a neighbourhood that is outside of the city center, preferably in the direction of your next show. Airport area is desirable. Boom you’re in a 4 star Hilton double room for $60 in Madison, Wisconsin. Does life get better at that moment? Yes. When you put on the complimentary slippers. Also, note that if you are a CAA (or AAA) member, there are usually always additional discounts. Word to the wise: make sure to check under the mattress for bed bugs before settling in. Some of us learn the hard way.
In conclusion, touring is a valuable learning experience. When you’re in the thick of it, it may not seem glamorous but in retrospect it’s always fun! Those memories are great and often cherished. Truly the definition of love to hate your life!
Posted by Laura Lloyd
Laura plays in a band called No Joy, she also loves eating tacos and petting Llamas