TOUR HACKS: What to bring on the road to survive a DIY Tour… (A Nervous & Prepared Musicians Guide)

Touring is probably the most freeing thing I’ve ever participated in so far. I live for it and I want to be on the road as much as possible. While touring is fun, there’s also a lot of stress and a lot of thought needs to put into it and what to bring!

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A lot of unexpected things can happen on tour! You may not be able to find a place to eat for hours. You may get lost someplace where there’s no cell reception. These things have happened to me and I’m glad that I had some necessary items to ease my mind and get me moving forward on to the next show!

This is a list of things that can help your tour, maybe even make or break your tour! This list includes things you wouldn’t normally think of, things that are outside of what you should have on your merch table, and outside of bringing extra instruments and instrument cables and picks. These are the things that many people look over…A tour is essentially a road trip where you are doing a lot of work. It’s a fact that you’ll be on the road A LOT and it’s a fact that living on the road is so much different than being in your apartment or home.


You’ll probably be in a car or a van or a bus if you’re lucky. It’s very important to bring some essential necessities for the car.

I recommend:

Jumper Cables (especially if you’re car is an older one, but hey, you never know)
A Spare Tire (If your car can fit one, most cars have one under the car under the trunk. I’ve had a flat tire on the road before! It’s not fun! If you know how to change a tire, you are way ahead of the game!)
Fix A Flat (If you need a quick tire fix to get you to the next gig and you have no time to change a spare, pull out your bottle of fix a flat and you’ll be on your merry way again and make it to the show!)
AAA (if you’re in a real jam like stuck in a ditch or blew out a tire, or don’t know how to change a tire, you can call AAA and they will come to your rescue pretty quickly! They’ve saved me so many times!)

Other vehicle advice: Get your oil changed before you get on the road by someone you trust. Read the reviews of the place! If you drive 3,000 miles or more, you’ll probably want to get your oil changed again. Most vehicle brands actually recommend this. Your vehicle is going to be on for several hours a day, working hard for several hours a day. Take care of your vehicle as best you can! You’ll probably have to plan a day that you can get your oil changed if you are on a long tour. That has to fit into your tour schedule! Plan a place, hours, and day before. Book an appointment in advance or find a place that does those 15 minute oil changes.

If you’re super DIY or indie you probably won’t be staying in many hotels or motels. You’ll probably be crashing at the houses of other artists or fans that you meet along the way. I always make sure to bring:

My own pillow and blankets (sleeping bags usually work the best, make sure you get the type of sleeping bag that goes with the weather where you are staying)
You can even get a sleeping pad that blows up and deflates easily. It may mess you up to sleep on the floor…get the sleeping pad! It takes up barely any space in the vehicle or in your bag!
Toiletries and enough of them. If you forget something basic you can probably find it at a rest stop (hopefully, so bring what you need!). (Lotion, Toothpaste, Toothbrush, Soap, Shampoo/Conditioner, etc…) Also bring any medications and vitamins you need with a vacation supply so you don’t have to refill in the middle of the country where they don’t even have the pharmacy you use!
Sleep Aids (Sometimes it’s hard to fall asleep on tour from all the adrenaline and from crossing through time zones, sleep aid can save your night so you can do your best at the next show. A really low dose of melatonin works great for me in this type of situation!)
An Outlet Adapter – So you can plug every band members phone in when you only have one room with one outlet!
Tide Pen, Lint Roller, Paper Towels, Baby Wipes can all come in handy… It’s likely that you won’t be able to do laundry often if not at all, and you won’t be able to bring many clothes


Sometimes it’ll be hours in between re-stops and if it’s late at night it’s sometimes impossible to find a place to eat! Most towns roll up their sidewalks and go to sleep ’til the morning. It’s happened to me before and it’s awful driving around in the dark when you are way too hungry to think. Snacks definitely help in these situations! You can bring some snacks like:

Cliff Bars or other type of snack bars
Peanut Butter
Chips, Pretzels, etc…
Astronaut Meals

Bring whatever you like that doesn’t spoil in the sun or without being refrigerated! And…make sure you have enough water that doesn’t get heated up in the sun!

I have made an amazon idea list with things I’ve brought on tour that have helped me a lot! I will add to this list any time I get a new idea! Feel free to follow it!


Written by Ryan Cassata w. help from Mae Krell & April Rose of the Rose Monarch
Originally posted on Indie Music Bus in August 2018 
Photos by Mae Krell 

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