How To Travel Well With Others (Part 2)
Sometimes, collaboration includes the element of travel excursions. For bands this could mean going on tour, for artists this could be traveling with an agent to a gallery opening across the country, for architects this could mean going to Europe to restore a historic structure and so on. No matter who you travel with, it's important to travel well. This blog will explore travel dynamics and offer some tips gained from experiences I've had on the road.
Protect Your Assets
Over the years I have heard horror stories about a band's trailer being stolen, or gear going missing from the side stage at the bar, or with hotel rooms being ransacked by sketchy staff. Protect your shit!! When traveling with a trailer, back it up to a wall where it can’t be (easily) taken or unhitched, make sure to lock your vehicle if you have equipment or resources stored in it, and if you have gear in the club, DO NOT leave it unattended. At the very least, pack it back up after the performance if possible, then return to the venue to promote or shmooze if that is your plan, and stay with your gear upon load in, by at least having band members take turns babysitting the gear. Whatever you do, just protect your assets because your tools are one of the most crucial business resources. And just to be clear, these kind of precautions are not just meant for amateurs. I recall years ago reading about a famous band, I think it was Streetlight Manifesto, but don’t quote me, whose entire trailer was hijacked while they were on tour. These kind of losses are crippling, unimaginable, and personally as well as professionally devastating. So use caution and keep eyes wide open.
Have An Emergency Plan
Even if planning measures have been thoroughly reviewed and verified, it’s still wise to have emergency backup plans. Maybe that’s the Capricorn in me, wanting to have an A ,B, and C Plan. It’s never unwise to have a secret stash of cash, to make sure you have some extra room available on a credit card, and to have some connections if possible wherever you are going, in case accommodations fall through or are unsuitable. It’s also a good idea to have a list of other local resources such as grocery stores, Airbnb's or if traveling abroad facilities such as embassies, exchange offices, or hostels. One last thing to consider is having important extras and replacements like a spare tire, coolant, a quart of oil, etc (if driving). Just take the time to think through the various “what if” or “worst case” scenarios.
Now Let's Talk About That Hypothetical Radio Argument..
I keep bringing this up because it's a very real situation that can literally ruin a trip, or worse yet, even the friendships or partnerships. Why?.. and How?.. Ok, so here's the thing. It's all about Mutuality, control issues, open mindedness, and willingness to SHARE. I have seen married couples fight over this. I have been in arguments myself over this. I have seen business associates bicker over it. One person wants to hear the news and the other wants to listen to music. One person hates this type of music, and the other person hates that type of music. Someone gets upset over the other person hogging the radio. And then there's the old classic “Well.. it's my car” and that ladies and gentleman, is when the other fights start. It's not usually that a large fight just starts out of nowhere, its most often a build up of little skirmishes that then start to erode communication, compassion, empathy, and listening.. and once people start to feel invalidated, or unheard, or misunderstood, the path to ruin easily comes to be the next stop on the GPS. Remember that you may have to spend long hours, days, or weeks with someone when traveling, so keep it cool and share. It can be very hard at times to put out a fire when there is no escape possible due to the limited size of a car, plane, train or boat or whatever.
Travel Checklist Part 2
Before you embark on your trip, make a To-Do list. Give yourself some time to let it breathe as well, otherwise a haphazard list thrown together the day before the trip will leave a lot of room for chaos to take root. The sooner the better; personally I like to plan for larger trips up to two months in advance. Especially if you are looking to save money, as prices usually go up leading to a flight or hotel on short notice. Here’s a little list to get you started:
Contracts, or Agreements
Do you have copies of your gig contracts on your laptop or mobile device, or printed copies?
Have all payment arrangements been secured? (Try to get a percentage upfront if possible!)
Do you have any contracts or agreements set?
Budget / Financial Projection
Have you made a budget?
Are you going to make profits or suffer losses?
Have you thought through all expenses, and explored all avenues of income?
Do you have a copy printed or on your mobile device or laptop?
Have you packed in a clean, organized way?
Is the vehicle clean on the inside for passengers?
Have you under or over packed?
Is everything packed in a safe manner? - This also helps avoid tickets!!
Have you checked the forecast for potential delays, or safety concerns?
Have you packed clothing, gear protection, or other materials appropriate to the forecast?
If relevant, have you considered saving money by packing a cooler?
Have you consulted the budget about food expenses?
Do all of your travel companions know about each others allergies, if any?
Remember to drink lots of water.. always. Did you pack any?
Hit The Road Jack…
Hopefully this blog gave some insight into the art of collaborative travel. At the end of the day, adventures are supposed to be fun, explorative, and exciting. So with that being said, AVOID disaster, catastrophe, and irritation by PLANNING, preparing, and thinking through all potential scenarios.
Travel well, adventurers!!