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On Tour: What’s Worth the Splurge (And What’s Not)

on tour
By Melissa Bondar

I’ve toured several different ways. I’ve lived on boats and trains that were like a little apartment that stays with you the whole time you’re on tour. I’ve done week long sit downs in hotels, which also gives you a little of the home feeling.

But I’ve also done van and box truck tours and bus and truck tours and both of those leave your world feeling a little upside down. There’s not much room to spread out your life in a bus – and one-nighters in a 15 passenger van make you want to make life as convenient as possible each night when you hit the hotel.

Worth It: Daily Contacts


If you wear contacts, you know dailies are the most expensive option you can pick. A few years ago, I wrote a review for Sightbox and I was paid in contact lenses. They’re actually a pretty great company (even greater for people who are constantly on the road), but my payment was in six months of biweekly contacts. No problem – I had started on monthlies years ago, so I just picked up some contact solution and happily went about my life.

Until I landed a bus and truck tour and the inconvenience of finding somewhere my contact case would stay properly upright with leaking and going through all those extra steps to disinfect and clean them became a surprisingly major headache. I ordered some dailies and never looked back. It was so much easier to just pop one open in the theater bathroom on the morning and pry them out of my eyes and toss them in the garbage at the end of the day.

Not Worth It: Snacks


One or two snacks on the bus or van is fine, but the theaters and hotels usually have tons of free food. On Fame, I lived off of donuts (terrible idea health-wise, delicious idea taste-wise). On Clifford, I was a constant hotel breakfast scavenger.

It was really easy to buy a ton of food I didn’t really need, because there was almost always something already available to us. I’m also not a big bus eater. There were some in our crew who wouldn’t go to sleep no matter how late we got on the bus without heating something up for dinner, but when we were rolling onto the bus after midnight and I knew we’d be in the next theater by 7:45 AM, I just wanted some sleep.

Worth It: Schick Intuition


The first time I saw one of these razors was on vacation with my best friend. She had one and I thought it was fascinating but a crazy waste of money. The next time I was on tour and cramming a razor and a bottle of shaving cream into my bag and dragging that bag back and forth between a bus and a theater every day, I rethought whether or not it was wasteful.

I splurged on one. I’ll never go back. At least, not when I’m on tour and showering in random theaters every day.

Not Worth It: Neck Pillows


I’m not trying to start a war here or anything, but I’ve always found neck pillows really uncomfortable. I also don’t find it all that difficult to travel with an actual pillow. It makes a world of difference and I already own plenty of them.

Worth It: Good Luggage


Over the years I’ve gone through 3 sets of good luggage. I can’t even imagine how many I would’ve destroyed with cheaper items. Luggage really takes a beating on tour – you’re throwing it under a bus or into the back of a van daily and dragging it through all sorts of hotels – including some really awesome ones that don’t even have stairs (I’m looking at you Dude Rancher Lodge). Nothing makes a day crappier than trying to zip shut your luggage as you’re running to make van call and having the zipper explode or rushing through an airport only to have the wheel snap off. The extra money is worth it.

If you fly regularly for work, it’s also worth the extra money to pay for the feather light luggage. Don’t waste that precious luggage weight on the actual luggage itself.

And don’t forget your carry on – splurging a little on a backpack that can be easily organized to pull out what you need during the security screenings quickly is worth a little more – or get a TSA approved laptop bag, which allows you to lie your laptop fly on the belt with nothing obstructing it, so you don’t have to actually unpack it.

Worth It: TSA Precheck


Another splurge for frequent flyers, this one was suggested by my friends over at the Broadway Symposium.

TSA Precheck came out right around the time I finished up on cruise ships, but I recall the hot debates among the American crew about whether or not it was worth it. For $85 for a 5 years enrollment (which breaks down to $17/year), if you fly often, it totally is.

Worth It: Bar Versions of Liquids


If there’s a way for a liquid to spill all over your suitcase, at some point it’ll happen. Any items you can find the bar version of instead is worth the price difference. They make some cool fabric softener sticks that you can use instead of the liquid. Definitely go for the powder detergents.

You can get bar versions of shampoo and conditioner too. LUSH actually makes a ton of these, including versions for sensitive skins and even one that fights dandruff.

Published in Collaboration with brokeGIRLrich

brokegirlrich TheatreArtLife

Also on by Melissa Bondar:

Great Christmas Gifts for Your Favorite Theatre Nerd

Stage Managers: Investing In Yourself

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