Band Tips for Flying to Shows

I’ve been spending nearly every weekend this month on a plane, playing gigs, so I haven’t had a chance to finish some of the articles that I’ve been planning to release quite yet. However, I’ve never really found a good set of advice for musicians who travel by air, so I thought I would offer my advice for it. These days, I probably only fly to 10-15 shows per year.

Preparing for Your Fly-Out Show

  • Make sure you have a clear, detailed, tech rider that explains everything you need. If you’re particular about a specific brand or make  of an instrument, let them know you need to be contact before alternate gear is selected. If you can, speak with the tech/production in advance so you know what you can bring and what you can leave at home. 
  • Buy ATA-rated cases for your gear. ATA-rated cases are built to withstand the rigors of flying. True, most airlines let you carry a guitar on, but sometimes you’re forced to gate-check it due to limited space on the plane. You don’t want risk destroying your instrument. Besides, ATA-rated gear is better for the touring band anyway, since it withstands much more punishment. Also, weigh everything in advance to see if there will be extra charges.
  • Bring back-up. You might not want to bring an extra guitar or bass, but an extra set of strings and some light tools can go a long way if something happens when you’re away.
  • Check the weather and flight as you would any other trip. Be prepared for a more lengthy process at security or baggage check-in.
  • Don’t forget your merchandise, a price list, and mailing list sign-up either. You might also want to print your set list ahead of time too.
  • Pack a number of medical remedies: airplanes are notorious for spreading sickness. Whether you believe that Emergen-C and Airborne  work or not, you should have some vitamins and meds with you.

During the Flight

  • Stay hydrated. It’s easy to get dehydrated on the plane, which affects your vocal chords. Try to get some rest if you can, as you’ll need the energy for your performance.
  • Keep CD’s handy. I always bring a few with me, you never know who you meet. In recent years, I met a the music director for a large video game company, a film director, and the keyboardist for a huge, national act. It’s a small world.

During the Show

  • If you are flying somewhere, you’ll want to work even harder to capture fans’ contact info. Get them to sign your mailing list and try to capture their zip-code so you can do a targeted e-blast later. In fact, in many ways, gathering fans’ contact information is probably more important than selling merchandise.
  • While you’re at it, get the contact info of every act you share the stage with as well. Chances are, when you’re touring through town, you’ll want some local contacts.

I have to pack for my trip now…but I hope this helps! What travel tips do you have for your fellow musicians?

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