8 Things Every Touring Musician Should Carry
I’ve written plenty about travel tips in the past, from articles on saving money to hacking fly out shows. Today, I wanted to provide some recommendations for specific gadgets, tools, and things that every road warrior should have.
Aside from the obvious (extra strings, quality cases, etc.), these are some of the things that I keep in my backpack or suitcase to stay healthy, comfortable, and ready to take the stage. You can get all of these products here.
1. Hydro Flask Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Water Bottle
I always underestimated the power of carrying my own water bottle…until I came across the Hydro Flask product line. Of course, there are millions of reasons to avoid plastic water bottles (such as the ones provided on stage): the plastic is horrendous to your health, devastating to the environment, they’re more expensive in the long run, create more garbage in your tour bus..you get the idea. However, the options for an alternative are not all created equal.
This particular bottle is especially good at keeping things hot or cold (I’ve had ice water in this traveling through the desert for ten hours still be frozen). While they do offer a wide mouth option, I prefer the slim style and 24 oz because it universally fits cup holders and is easier to take on a flight. The lid is spill proof lid opens with an easy twist, making it ideal on stage. It’s one of the best investments I’ve made for travel, ever. Get it on Amazon for less than $30.
2. Po Chai Pills
Po Chai is a natural supplement that travelers love to use to deal with upset stomachs. It’s especially popular throughout Southeast Asia. When you’re constantly on the move and dealing with questionable sanitary conditions or unhealthy food options, this is a great way to mitigate any problems. When I feel bloated or nauseous, I just take two vials with some water and feel much better within a few minutes. Buy them from your local Asian market or on Amazon for $7 here.
3. Vigbagnia Garment Packing Envelope
This simple packing envelope helps save space in your suitcase (especially if you’re using a carry-on type) and keeps your clothes neat. It’s great if you have things that normally should be on hangers: button down shirts, slacks, tops, etc. Things fold nearly around the center and it seals in, which keeps things flat and wrinkle-free. It’s also a nice way to organize your suitcase so you don’t mix dirty clothes with clean, etc. These are normally about $15; get it on Amazon for $12.
4. Clip-On Guitar Tuner
While I usually use the G-Strings app on my phone for a backstage or acoustic tuner, sometimes it isn’t practical because of noise. Clip-on tuners are perfect for this situation – and you can leave them clipped onto the head stock of your guitar or bass as well. It saves the hassle of dealing with instrument cables when you just want to tune your instrument. They’re very inexpensive and easy to read. I have one in every guitar case. I prefer the Snark model because it is unobtrusive but has bright, easy to read letters. It’s on sale for almost 50% off now here.
5. 750W Power Inverter
For any driving tour, a decent inverter is a must. 750 watts is perfect to handle most needs: charging laptops, phones, and other devices. Any larger size, and you’ll start getting devices made for RV’s and large diesel trucks. Any smaller, and you’ll often be blowing fuses if you have multiple band mates plugging things in. I recommend the Ampeak brand, it’s been the most reliable unit (out of the 5 or 6 I’ve bought over the years). You can get the same one that’s in my tour bus here. Definitely buy this in advance instead of paying extra at a truck stop.
6. Portable Charger/Power Bank
I can’t tell you how many times a portable battery has saved me in situations where we needed to charge a dying phone (especially when you’re depending on it for GPS or on an important call). This was especially the case when I had bandmates addicted to Pokemon Go. While larger batteries are slightly heavier, they generally last longer and are able to charge multiple devices simultaneously. Better units, like the ones made by Anker, also charge more quickly. Believe me, it’s worth the extra $15 to get something decent. I’ve had good luck with this one from Anker.
7. Loquat Syrup
Loquat Syrup (especially the Nin Jion Pei brand), is the absolute best thing out there for soothing your throat. It has been made especially to help a dry throat, which can be caused by too much drinking or smoking (or just abuse on your vocal chords from singing too much). Everyone in my band swears by it, even my former singer who coats the inside of his mouth with it before breathing fire. Yeah, that’s intense protection.
Loquat Syrup is also pretty tasty. Just a couple of tablespoons work. If you’re skeptical of Eatsern medicine, an alternative would be some Vocal ESE throat spray (it also works great but is about $15 for a 1 oz bottle, compared to $13 for 10 ounces of loquat). Buy it here.
8. Dude Wipes
These are pretty much a baby wipes alternative, without the fresh baby smell. If you’re on tour and don’t always have access to a shower, these sanitary wipes keep your skin clean – this is especially helpful if you get sweaty during shows and don’t want to drench your fans at the merch booth. Dude Wipes has an “energize” line that have pro biotics, though I haven’t really felt a burst of energy from them myself. Be careful to buy the ones made for your face, not the toilet, if you’re trying to do a road shower. Get the right ones here.
Do you have a must-have tour item? Share below! If you are interested in any of these products, view them on my Amazon page here.