In this Tour Tips segment, the singer-songwriter, Matt Hires, recommends advice for being a musician on the road. You can check out the tips, after the break.
Sitting here thinking about tips for touring artists made me really miss actual touring. I’ve spent a lot of time on the road over the past 12 years, so while it’s been good to have some solid time at home during this pandemic, It will be nice when the day comes where we can all get back out there again. Whenever that happens, here are my tips for touring artists (and really just anyone who travels a lot).
1) There are a handful of apps that are essential for touring life. Some are kind of obvious, but some others may not be. I use Priceline and Hotwire for all of my hotel stays (more on this coming up next). Waze is great for those unexpected traffic jams, and Gas Buddy (one of my favorites) will find you the best gas prices in your area or along your route. Some other apps that I find myself using a lot are Rest Areas, Toll Calculator, and Weather Underground, especially for those winter tours.
2) Circling back to the hotel apps, Priceline has their Express Deals, and Hotwire has Hot Rate deals. These options don’t let you know exactly which hotel you’ll be staying in before you pay, but they can save you so much money, especially if you book the day of or the day before your stay. I will say that you should be careful booking some of the lower star options through Hotwire. Those have landed me in some pretty terrible hotels a few times (I typically prefer to sleep in a room without bloodstains on the wall). Some things to always consider are proximity to the venue and value. It also helps to be close to a Taco Bell, for that post-show meal that you may or may not regret later. Oh, and there are some websites like Room Revealer and Hotel Revealer that can sometimes tell you the hotel you’re getting before you pay for it.
3) Another app that I use so much on tour that it needs its own category is Yelp. I know, I know. Yelp reviewers can be terrible and complain about the dumbest little things, BUT when you’re in a new city it can be really helpful when you’re looking for the best spots for food, especially when you’re tired of that late-night Taco Bell. I’ve found my favorite restaurants in the country in some of the most unexpected places. Nepalese dumplings in Columbus, Ohio. Incredible tacos in Helena, Montana. Super authentic Chinese food in Champagne, Illinois. Great Vietnamese pho in Montgomery, Alabama. I could keep going. The Yelp community has its flaws for sure, but it can help you find some of your new favorite places to eat all over the country. Use it.
4) I know everyone has their go-to podcasts, but I thought I would share a few of mine. Good podcasts are essential for those long drives. For that reason (and many more), my favorite podcast is You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes. It’s a comedy podcast that is so much more than just a comedy podcast, and the episodes are suuuuuper long. I love getting into this one and having three hours pass like it was 30 minutes. More of my favorites are Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend, Reply All, Armchair Expert, The Daily, and The Liturgists. A good audiobook is also a solid move, or a dramatic podcast like Blackout, We’re Alive, or Limetown.
5) Lastly, I would say to just always try to be cool to all the venue staff and sound people out there. Whether you’re paying dive bars or theaters, most of the time the people working there just want the night to go smoothly. I know you can run into some less than ideal situations out on the road, but kindness usually will get you farther than being an asshole, so try to let that be your default. At least until after you get paid. Safe travels.