Go the Distance! Tips When You’re on the Road

I’ve created a whole series of articles filed under Tips for Touring, which you can pull up here.

I recently returned from doing a national tour myself. We crammed nearly 10,000 miles worth of driving in about 15 days. Most tours involve intense amounts of driving and they’re often done on older, less reliable vehicles. So before you undertake an ambitious series of out of town gigs of your own, it’s best to know a few things that can save you from disaster.

Here are some basic long distance driving tips when it comes to the road:

  1. Check the vehicle often: Learn how to check the basic fluids: oil, brake, transmission, coolant, and power steering. If you’re using an older van or bus, check during regular stops. It doesn’t take long and you can expedite the process by assigning each member of the band one responsibility to take care of when you’re filling up on gas. It can save your transmission, one of the most expensive repairs on a vehicle.
  2. Prepare for emergencies: Speaking of fluids, it’s a good idea to carry a little bit of everything. Also, make sure you spare tire is in good shape and that you have some emergency roadside kits: flashlight, jumper cables, rope, and basic tools.
  3. Get roadside assistance: It’s a good idea to get AAA or another roadside assistance service. Some cell phone companies offer it as an add-on for only a few dollars per month (and you don’t even have to add the service all year long, just activate it shortly before your tour and then drop it when you’re done).
  4. Have a regular driving schedule: We started creating a regular driving schedule so everyone would know who was driving each day/night. Shifts generally run 3 hours per person and areas to sleep in are reserved for the drivers next on deck. At night, we shorten up shifts and always have a co-pilot up to make sure that the driver stays awake.
  5. Research the route: You might have GPS on your phone but have a backup plan if you enter areas where you don’t have service. I often also print out some maps via Google, just in case.

These are some basics. What’re some of your tour tips? Stay safe out there!

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