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Tour Life: Pros, Cons And Helpful Advice

By Jill Wolins

Life on the road. The subject matter alone evokes strong reactions. If you have ever spent a great length on the tour, you have surely heard other non-thespian types gasp in horror at the lifestyle. “I don’t know how you do it” is always a good one. “I could never live out of a suitcase” is another trusty response. “You have cooked on an electric burner in your hotel room?” Well, one can not live on late night bar food alone. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

To others, being a roadie is a dream come true. A constant stream of the new and fresh: cities, theaters, people, culture… the list is endless. Many artists are revived by the constant change and stimuli. Life is never boring, but does have its challenges.

I personally never thought much about life on the road. It was just my norm. My “studies” are based on experiences of tour extremes. The longest amount of time I have spent consecutively on the road was close to a year and a half with a Broadway Production Contract.

I have done countless industrials from cushy gigs in resort-type places, to one-nighters in towns I cannot remember. I never minded risk taking. I would get on planes alone and fly to the middle of no place in Russia, or China.

I thought nothing of this at the time, and was at my best in thought of a new job in a new place.

Let’s get to it: some good stuff, some bad stuff, and some ways to make your experience on the road the best ever.

The Goods

  • You are making money! And as an Artist! Cheers!
  • You are exploring the world, cities you have never seen, on someone else’s dime! I mean come on! This is also especially exciting if you get the opportunity to travel internationally.
  • Life is never boring. Each new city has something different to offer. You can check out museums, classes, or just enjoy the night life!
  • There are opportunities in each city to make more money and expand your teaching resumé. Seek out education sites like dance studios or colleges and market yourself as a master/guest teacher. These connections may pay off in the future.
  • A regular travel and show schedule may enable you to use your time to start or finish courses online.

The Bads

  • Finding healthy food is not always easy or convenient. Sometimes it seems like you are always working to find healthy eats. Like every day.
  • You suddenly realize that you do need a post office, and it is a pain to find one.
  • Online shopping is not as easy when you are constantly moving, and you do not know what hotel room you will occupy. Impossible? No. You just need to make an effort to chase down packages.
  • Relationships can suffer. Loved ones left at home don’t always fare well. Or life on the road can feel lonely, and convenient companions can easily turn into home wreckers.
  • Having extra time and money can often leave people falling prey to drugs and alcohol. Looking back on a chapter of life in the fast lane can leave a person filled with regrets of wasted time and money.

Tour Tips

If you are on the road for any length of time, any roadie will tell you that it can be a roller coaster. The highs are high, and the lows can seem endless. The idea is to get the most out of your time. Live your life, love your time, and have no regrets. If you have never been on the road, and do not have children or aging parents to tend to, this is your time! Take advantage of your youth while you have no strings attached!

  • Know what you are getting yourself into. If your job involves being on the road for a good period of time, know your travel conditions prior to signing the contract. If you are traveling the US, the best gigs may be in alignment with Dancers’ Alliance and Actors’ Equity Association.
  • If you are doing a quick and fun gig, let’s say for an entertainment company, keep it real. Don’t be disappointed when you are not staying at the Four Seasons while being fed foie gras. Take it for what it is worth and have fun with some new friends.
  • Consider packing your own sheets. If you are on the road for an extended period of time with little control over your hotel choice, consider packing light weight sheets of your own. Why be freaked out by creepy hotel linens.
  • Save money. Maybe even come up with a financial plan of what you want to have saved when you get off the road. Oh, and stick to the plan. Don’t go home with your Louis Vuitton handbag and Louboutin pumps being broke as a joke.
  • Set short term goals and stick to them. Maybe they are streaming fitness videos regularly, maybe they are taking voice lessons in each new city, or maybe they are committing to a healthy eating plan. Definitely find local grocers and set yourself up to eat sensibly. The months go by quickly, and the pounds pack on easily, thanks to the TGIFridays type last resorts.
  • Join all frequent flier programs, hotel rewards programs, and rental car company loyalty programs. You will be glad you did down the road when you are enjoying those upgrades.
  • If you are flying around the globe, take advantage of your whereabouts to see other new places. This may mean you book your own ticket home, and stop to see another city or country on your way. Who knows when your next opportunity will be to see these places?

The sad news is that the tour doesn’t last forever. OR the good news is that the tour doesn’t last forever! Either way, time flies. Enjoy the road, see every place you possibly can, and live your best life!

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