If you’ve followed the Ultimate Guide To Planning Your Tour so far, you’ve determined that you’re ready, decided where you want to go, chosen the right venues, and successfully booked each venue. Now it’s time to decide what you need to bring on the road and make sure you don’t leave anything behind. Remember to pack light, because there won’t be much room.
This is going to be different for every band, so you’ll have to take the time to make this yourself. Include EVERYTHING: guitars, backup guitars, guitar tools, drum keys, bass drum pedal, drum stick, cab chords, amps, mics, cable bags, pedals, tuners, even extra strings. Try to put things back into the van the same way and in the same bags each night, so that you are sure to not leave anything behind. Refer to this checklist after every show to ensure that everything get put back into the van.
In Your Tour Book
Name of each venue and date
Directions to the venue (or use a GPS)
Time that doors open
Your set time
Set lists for each show
Names of other bands you are playing with
Merchandise Inventory checklist – keep track of what you sell and give away each night.
Summary of contract agreement – are you getting a guarantee or percent of the door, and what are the agreed upon numbers? Are you getting free drinks or half-off food?
Copies of contracts/email conversations with venues – every once in a while, you may run into a promoter who doesn’t want to give you what you previously agreed upon. Bring documents to prove your agreements.
Healthy snacks – you are going to be eating copious amounts of cheap junk food on the road, and you don’t want anyone getting sick. You’re going to be in close quarters with everyone, so if one person gets sick, everyone’s getting sick.
Towels and Washcloths – shower every day, and keep clean. You are going to be meeting tons of people on the road, and will be in close quarters with your band mates. Nobody wants to talk to the oily, pimply, smelly one.
Camera / video camera – even though the flip cam has been taken off the shelves, find a way to document your trip. Uploading daily photos/videos is a great way to stay engaged with your fans from the road. But also, touring is a lot of fun, and you’re going to want to remember the incredible things that you see and do on the road.
AAA card – just in case. Vans break down, and you want to do everything you can to not let that get in the way of a great tour. Also, take care of your van, and keep the oil changed.
Appropriate clothes – always bring an extra pair of shows and more than one pair of pants.
Phone chargers and laptop chargers
MIFI card – if you can afford one, get one! It’s a great way to get Internet on your laptop from the road, so you can stay in touch with your fans. Otherwise, make sure that at least one band member has a smart phone, so you don’t disappear from the rest of the world.
Business cards – you’re going to be meeting tons of people on the road, and you want to be able to give them something to remember you by. Business cards are standard, so try to invest in some quality business cards.
CDs and Merch – Set a goal for how much merch you want to sell each night, and try your hardest to meet that goal each night. It’s a great way to get extra gas money on the road. I know that merch can take up a lot of space in the van, but the last thing you want to do on tour is run out of things to sell to your fans, so plan accordingly.
Bottled water – you don’t want to be dehydrated on the road, and you definitely don’t want to live off of sodas and sugary drinks the entire time either. Water bottles are easy to refill, while gas station drinks will add up to be rather expensive.
GPS – these are great for finding places to get food, and will also help you find the venues and get there on time.
Extra show posters and handbills – If you get to your city early and want to try to drive in a little more traffic to your show, carry around a few extra handbills wherever you go. Ask locals for advice on where to eat and explore, and let them know that you’re playing a show and that they should be there!
Safe / Moneybox – Keep this secure! Avoid internal arguments about money by keeping all revenue in one location. Whenever we got paid each night, we would put the money directly into an envelope inside the safe, and would use that money for gas. You can also decide on a per diem, and take that money directly from the safe each day.
Credit Card reader – you will sell exponentially more merch if you have the ability to make credit card payments. Get a free square credit card reader and download the app for your smart phone or iPad.
Sleeping Bags / Pillows – decide as a band if you want to have these or not. They take up a lot of space, but if you are going to be driving through the night, crashing on floors, or sleeping in the van, then these will definitely come in handy.
What are some other checklist items that every touring band needs? Share them here!