Van essentials. Now here is one that can be a bit tricky. Not a lot of people really think about the needs their bands might have moving forward into this whole clusterfuck. However – knowing what to take on the road is going to be essential if you want to have an easy time of it, or at least not have the nightmare that many bands experience early on. There are of course tour pack lists that you can find anywhere on the internet, but I wanted to break down tour necessities into a few key concepts that I personally think are going to help make your tour experience a lot less stressful. The best part is that all of these things I’m going to be listing are fairly cheap or, more than likely things that you already have in your home. Sure the total cost might be a few hundred bucks, but that is a huge part of making the general experience more pleasant and smoother.
So first off – baby wipes. Every veteran band will tell you that baby wipes are a great way to not just keep yourself clean but also avoid a lot of the general stickiness of tour. Odds are your tours are going to be fueled by booze and gross sticky food. This is going to lead to a lot of mess that baby wipes are designed to handle. I know that this sounds a little silly to some people but it is a great way to just keep fresh. Remember – you’re not going to be sleeping in clean and nice places. You’re not going to be in a situation where you aren’t eating with your hands. This is a fucking gross thing you are getting yourself into and that’s okay. You have to embrace it though, you have to keep driving through and if you’re not covered in much then I can personally guarantee that your mood is going to improve and you will feel more capable of embracing the day to day challenges that your average tour is going to throw in your face.
Next up – Clif bars or some other form of easily obtainable and easily stored energy bar. Don’t use candy bars – those will just make you feel like shit. They have empty calories and are only going to make your life miserable. Instead – sit down and embrace your favorite energy bar. Realize that it is going to probably replace a ton of meals for you for better or for worse. You need to come to terms with that early on. I like Clif bars because you know that you not only are getting a lot of good calories but you also are able to easily obtain them in a variety of flavors. This keeps things from getting staid and monotonous. Breaking up the monotony on tour is obviously an essential and finding ways to handle this can be as simple as having a unique flavor of Clif bar on a given day. Find your energy bar and stick to it. In sticky situations, especially if you have dietary restrictions it s going to serve you extremely well.
Moving right on down the line now I want to talk books. I know that you are probably used to electronic entertainment options, and I’m getting to those, but trust me – books are probably just as important as your digital devices. This is for a couple reasons – first and foremost – you probably aren’t going to have service everywhere you go on tour. You are definitely going to have a few hours driving through Nebraska or whatever where you don’t get connection. You need to have something to do in that moment because the monotony might literally kill you otherwise. Furthermore – call me old fashioned but I feel like you can get lost in a book and disconnect in a book in a way you can’t with your phone. Tour has a lot of ‘hurry up and wait’ and if you embrace that then you are going to find the time going a lot more easily.
Spark plug adapters are the final key to this whole thing. You want to have as many as possible, ideally one in every spark plug, and in your average 15 passenger you can have up to six. If you’re able to have outlets in your vehicle and a way to charge your phone you are protecting yourself against a lot of potential dangers, like your phone battery dying or being unable to run other essential items. It also just generally makes tour life more comfortable to have easy access to electricity and gives you a lot more opportunities to really relax and enjoy the ride. It’s always a struggle when you are on tour for weeks on end, so you want to be able to pamper yourself in any way possible, even if it is relatively minor and could potentially be pricey. This is in fact probably the priciest thing listed here but also one of the most essential.
At the end of the day – you can never get too many goodies to make tour life less painful. It seems that even for the bands trolling around the country in nice buses there are shitty aspects to tour – that’s just how it is. If you can buy these four things though and try to have a positive attitude about it then you are going to find some more success. His isn’t always self evident and frequently there will be a lot of other limitations and costs you didn’t expect to come up, but this can be a way to ensure that you’re not going in completely blind and you maintain the opportunity to keep a good attitude and grow what you are doing beyond the limitations of your hometown scenes. This can be tricky – like I said, but spending some money to improve your tour lifestyle is almost always worth it.