20 Tips For Touring Acts

1. Never EVER buy a pre packed sandwich with cucumber in it. It’s pretty much guaranteed to be soggy.

2. Always keep a pack of wet wipes in your glove compartment. They can be used to clean nearly everything! From dirty shoes to removing marks from a prop, plus you never know if some toilet paper will be available when you most need it…

3. Own a mic stand. Keep this in your car also. In five years there are only four gigs where I’ve arrived to find they didn’t have one already. On these four occasions, having one in my car was the difference between a good gig and a total nightmare. Plus it’s always best to have the thing you rehearsed with.

4. Be nice. You never know if that person you just screamed at in traffic is also heading to the gig you’re booked at, or if they’re the one who’s going to end up giving you the cheque. Plus as Lance Burton says ‘I never looked back on a situation in my life and wish I’d been more of a jerk’. So, be nice.

5. If you’re going to be on the road frequently, get two of everything that you need to get dressed in the morning. Toothpaste, brush, shaver, hair products, sprays…basically everything. Not having to take your wash-bag out of your suitcase for using at home, or worrying whether or not you packed all that stuff again saves you a LOT of time.

6. Keep your toothbrush in a little plastic toothbrush holder. Leave that holder out on the table with your suitcase when you go to brush your teeth. When you’re packing up and you see it, it’ll stop you leaving your toothbrush behind in the bathroom.

7. If you forget your towel, the bed sheet is your only friend.

8. In a lot of situations where there is purchasable wifi, going to page two of the ‘Register to buy’ page and closing Safari (on iPhone) will be enough to let you use third party apps like Facebook for free. A lot of people also post wifi passwords on twitter & foursquare, so check those too.

9. Always wear flip flops for flying. (Or loose fitting slip ons). Your feet will thank you during the flight and you’ll have a much easier time at the security check point. (Of course this does mean your regular heavier shoes will have to be packed, so it’s your choice)

10. Keep your car ruthlessly clean. Inside and out. People will see you arrive at shows in it, whatever it is, it always looks better clean. Secondly, having the car clean inside will make you feel better and happier while driving. Especially if you’re going to be in it for 6 hours non stop like I often am.

11. Travelodge is almost always much cheaper than Premier Inn. They both let you check out at 12 midday although it’s worth knowing that they class the new day as starting at 2am. So if you’re going to arrive after that you MUST ring, although it’s advisable to ring ahead if you’re arriving after 11pm.

12. The vending machine in the reception of a Travelodge will give you a big discount for buying more than one item, although it is not advertised. So if you plan to buy a few things, put all of the money in first, then select the multiple items. Often it’s as much as 40% off. I always get 2 bottles of water and a chocolate bar…

13. If you’re driving a long way, fill up before you leave. Fuel prices on the motorway are often 15-20p per litre more expensive and if you stop you’ll probably waste money in the overpriced shop too. (Although if you do stop, the Lemon Cheesecake Krispy Kreme donut is worth killing for)

14. If you get an email or text or anything that requires further action but can’t sort it out immediately because you’re busy, take a screenshot of it on your phone. Looking through your camera roll will jog your memory. You can also do this with venue postcodes you’ve googled, things that give you ideas. Basically everything I need or want to remember if in my camera roll. In my phone right now I have over 10 things that I should be getting on with instead of writing this.

15. When travelling abroad (especially countries with the euro) forget using the currency exchange.  You’ll get the same (of often better) just using your card to get cash out of an ATM machine. It saves you a hassle and you won’t have extra money that you may need converting back.

16. Keep a couple of those little circular touch-lights in you suitcase. You never know when they’ll come in handy and in some places I’ve stayed the lighting options are either prison yard white or completely dark. Dimmer lighting helps make it cosy.

17. If you stay in a hotel room with a constant airflow system, hang a wet towel on it. It’ll stop you waking up with a sore throat.

18. Keep a box in your car with a few drinks, pot noodles or other dry food (you can nearly always find a kettle), spare underwear and socks, a hand towel, more wet wipes (i just love those things), a toilet roll, spare glasses if you wear them, a cheap pay as you go phone (and charger), neck pillow, lighter, tea bags (lemon and ginger for me that don’t require milk). Every single one of these things has at some point saved or dramatically improved my quality of life in various situations. Whether it’s stuck in a non mover on the motorway for four hours or arriving in a town at night when everything is closed and your hotel is a dump.

19. Download an app that’s password protected and can store files, pictures and videos. I use ‘My Disk’, it has a 9 peg pattern code. You have to link them all together in a way that you designed. It’s great for saving pictures and videos that you’d prefer to keep to yourself and also handy to keep a photograph of your credit/debit card on and other things you may need if you don’t have your purse/wallet.

20. Find a cheap to mid price place you like eating that isn’t fast food. When you’re in a town all day with nothing to do, it’ll give you a nicer place to hang out for a while. At the moment I’m favouring Cafe Rouge, but it changes all the time.

Mark James
Sleight Of Hand Magic & Comedy

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