In this Tour Tips segment, the folk duo, Vocal Few, give you some tips for being on tour. You can check out their tips and stream their newest single, “Go”, after the break.
Tour Tips (Practical Version)
It’s a big corporate evil, riddled with systemic injustices caused by its own unstoppable greed, I know, but allow me to embrace some of its positive aspects, like the fact that 95% of Walmarts allow you to stay overnight in their well-lit, relatively-safe parking lots. When my band started out, we practically lived at Walmarts. We’d circle-the-wagons with a couple other bands, forming a circle with our vans and trailers. Then we’d flip a shopping cart over and grill out in the center of it. Walmart is a friendly space for travelers. You can park the tour van, sleep, use the bathroom, and purchase a cheap apple to stave off scurvy. We’d buy $5 bags of socks, water for the stage, and whatever food items we needed. It was cheap, it was bright, it was clean, it was big, it had AC, and it was an escape from the cramped, dirty spaces our bodies inhabited most of the time.
2.) City Parks
It’s hard to find green in the concrete jungle highways and interchanges, so public parks offer a nice reprieve. We (Vocal Few) travel with our kids, who love to explore new playgrounds, meet new dogs, and exert energy – so we kill several birds with one stone by stopping at a park for an hour. We also don’t mind sitting under shady trees and connecting with our “roots.” Best of all, it’s free. Some rest areas have nicer green spaces too, but they can tend to have a more transitory vibe, which is less relaxing.
3.) GPS Navigation
Not the map app on your phone. You need a functioning GPS that lives on the dash. The most obvious reason is that when your cell service dies in the middle of nowhere, the GPS is there to save the day. It works off of satellites, and all the maps are pre-loaded into it, so you’ll never get lost. Other good reasons are that this frees your phone up to play music, run headphones for podcasts or calls, or at least not distract you while you’re driving.
4.) Pilot & Flying J Travel Centers
Contrary to what you’d expect from a truck stop, they have really nice showers. They’re free if you can fill up 50 gallons or more, otherwise, you pay around $10 for one, but it’s still cheaper than a hotel. The hottest tip is that Pilot Pizza is actually really good. They’ll make you a fresh one if you want, enough to feed a whole band, and it is way better than Pizza Hurt or Domiblows. Free wifi, too.
5.) Pack Light
If you start with less you can fill in the gaps as you go. If you start with too much, you are just dragging useless crap all over the country, encroaching on the precious square footage. Needs tend to reveal themselves, and despite the compulsion to “be prepared” before you leave for tour, stores are still open on the road! It’s easy to get what you need while traveling. You tend to pick up extra stuff as you travel, like a snowball rolling downhill, so it’s best to start with the least amount possible.