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Planes, Trains and Tour Vans

Musicians_Tour_Advice

Contemplating a U.S. tour? Before you pack your bags, buy your tickets or start contacting venues, read this guide to getting around the U.S.

Get anchor dates then fill in the blanks
The first date is hardest to get, so don’t act like it is the first date. Build on your existing bookings. Offer specific date options and start contacting venues months in advance, not weeks.

Select places that make sense
The U.S. is monstrous, so unless you have unlimited budget and time, break it up. There are four main regions: Northeast (New England and Mid-Atlantic), Midwest (East North Central and West Central), South (South Atlantic, East South Central, West South Central) and West (Mountain Division and Pacific Division).

The East Coast is the easiest option by car, as the major metropolitans are fairly close to one another. The West Coast is far more spread out. Look carefully at the distances between each show—is it realistic?

Bigger isn’t always better
Sure, New York, LA and Chicago are tempting, but you may have an easier time scheduling shows in smaller cities. Be the big fish in a small pond. Look for places where the type of music you play is on the upswing.

Visas
Don’t wait. See Legal Do’s, Don’ts and Visa Tips for Touring Artists.

Planes
Southwest Airlines, a budget-friendly domestic airline allows you to check two bags (under 50 lbs) for free, a bonus for any touring artist. Flexibility is also important when you’re on tour—tickets are changeable and partially refundable.

Trains
Not as cool as where you live.

Automobiles

  • BandWagon is the best option for a five-to-nine-person vehicle. It is approximately $400 per day, plus the cost of fuel. You do not need a special license, the RVs are custom built for touring musicians and sleeping in the vehicle means not spending money on hotels.
  • Bandago is recommended for vans and sprinters. Clean and spacious with entertainment features. Costs $90-$200 per day, plus fuel.

Smaller cars work well for duos and trios. You can rent a car for a month with unlimited mileage at reasonable prices.

Pack light
Get your merchandise manufactured in the U.S. to avoid schlepping it overseas.