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Monday
Feb132017

Going Mobile: 4 Great Ways Your Band Can Save Money On The Road

Three words on the first-time DIY tour experience: exhilarating, difficult, and rewarding. Sandwiched between the positives – between the thrill and the sense of accomplishment – there’s the reality of what it takes to get it done. If you don’t understand DIY is going to be difficult, you’re coming at your first tour with expectations akin to fantasy.

When my band embarked on a three-week West Coast tour three years ago, we had no idea what we were doing. We weren’t rich, but we didn’t even look at advice on inexpensive touring. And we were at each other’s throats. But we survived. I’m here now to impart some of what I learned to you, so you don’t make some of the same money mistakes we did. I can just hear you now, saying, “Thanks, Dad.” 
You’re welcome.
Couchsurf, hostel, etc

There’ll be nights when you don’t want to crash in the van, and you just want a nice, clean bed and a shower (if, unlike me, you do shower on the road). Hotels cost a lot, and a hospitable local at one of your gigs isn’t always going to pop out of the woodwork. My advice to you is to look for hostels and look into couchsurfing.com. In my experience, the people on the Couchsurfing site are prepared to offer you good accommodations—they wouldn’t be on the site if they weren’t. And hostels are super-cheap, with an occasional free breakfast in the mix. You’ll meet people, make friends, and save money.
 
Use Wi-Fi calling, texting, internet
 
When we were on the road, I didn’t realize I could simply use Wi-Fi at any nearby coffee shop. My provider is T-Mobile, and I recently discovered their page on Wi-Fi calling. From there, I found out that Wi-Fi calling lets you make calls without using your cellular data. You can text with it, too, and of course you can email, you can Facebook, what have you. You just have to enable it on your phone. My phone bills skyrocketed astronomically as we made our way down the West Coast, so I highly recommend you take advantage of Wi-Fi. You can do all the phone stuff you need without using data.
 
Keep food expenses low
 
This might be the toughest one on the list. Fast food is cheap, restaurants are fun and the food is tasty. The temptation to eat out will be extremely high. Don’t give into it too often! If you do go out, take advantage of coupons and sites like Groupon. Otherwise, make time for grocery stores. Trader Joe’s has healthy food for relatively cheap, plus six-packs of Simpler Times beer for like $4. Grab foods with a long shelf-life, such as granola bars and bulk snacks, and tote them with you on the road. Food will be one of the highest expenses for your band on tour. Save on snacks, and you’ll have more money for the fun stuff. 
Get your rig shipshape

Have a mechanic inspect your rig before you leave, and look for ways to save money on gas. What’s the best way to save on gas? My friend, one of those know-it-all car guys, swears that good tires are the way to go. Fuel efficient tires save anywhere between 1% and 4% on the price of a gallon of gas. They offer less resistance to the road. Keep them properly inflated, because that gives you optimum gas mileage. When you’re rolling down the road in a big van full of equipment, anything helps. 
Another friend of mine swears by his Ford truck for touring. Seriously. He got a camper shell for it for free, because people are pretty much giving them away all the time on Craigslist. Then, he modified it with a catback exhaust (catalytic converter-back exhaust system). With the catback, you can get up to two more miles more per gallon. The system also improves your torque. You can find these for other big rigs besides a truck. But the nice thing about having a truck, when you’re not touring, there are a lot of other handy uses for it.

 

 

Going Mobile: 4 Great Ways Your Band Can Save Money On The Road

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