We are heading into winter tour season, meaning no more sleeping under the stars or staying in our cars in the woods; we are headed to the cities and toward freezing temperatures in most of them. Some of us will cuddle up and begin to hibernate taking a season off – but the shows do and will go on. We may have to change our touring habits as winter creeps in on us. No more dips in fresh bodies of water or three-night stays in a mini-world created by festivals. How can we keep our momentum going without breaking the bank? I have a few tips and tricks I have learned over the years.
Rule 1 : Time vs. Money
If I have learned anything in life, this statement is extremely true. That can be comparing pricing in flying or driving somewhere, taking the cheaper flight but having to stay overnight in an airport, looking into buses and trains or trying to use a ride-share, to what star hotel you choose even how you spend your money eating a drinking on the road. As you plan your trip think of what you have more of – and make moves toward that in every way.
Rule 2: Research, Research, Research
This doesn’t mean you have to have your entire trip planned out to “a T” with an itinerary but it is worth your while to look into cities and areas for deals and have some kind of game plan. I was recently in New Orleans for Halloween; did you know you can get an unlimited bus pass for three days just $5 instead than spending hundreds on Uber and Lift rides. It may not always be as convenient but go back to rule 1 – time vs. money, your choice.
- Investigate where you are staying and find out where happy hours are or weekly special when you do go to eat or get some drinks.
- Check and see if you are staying close to train or bus station to help save your dollars when going or leaving from a show.
- If I am driving I will even research what states have the cheapest gas. I use to use an app but now Google maps will tell you what gas stations are along the way – the price at each gas station and how far off you path it maybe. Every dollar will add up.
- Google maps has a function to “avoid toll roads”; the North East can be bad for that, helping you save $100’s on long trips. The PA turnpike for example is like $50 or more to drive on the entire thing; there are plenty of other routes that are not any longer just cheaper.
Rule 3: Loyalty Programs
When touring anytime I suggest finding reward opportunities. You are going to be staying in hotels – pick a platform and use that one all season long. You will be staying at these places regardless; you will get better treatment if you are a consistent and loyal costumer. If you are able look into credit cards that allow you to gain points, or always use apps like hotels.com or stick with Wyndamn Rewards. As long as you are taking advantage of some kind of loyalty programs you are making a small win. Trust me there will be one for every budget. Man, the times that I have been at the end of a tour and racked some free stays that turned into shining stars because my funds were scary low.
If traveling alone look into room shares, hostel and “Couch Surfing”.
Hostels are a cheap and fun way to travel. Most of the people who stay in hostels are travelers and looking to meet new people and want to explore the city they are visiting – by the end you can have new friends from across the country or around the world. They may not be as popular as in Europe but there are some in larger cities in the United States; I use a great app called Hostelworld to read reviews, see availability, book reservation, and compare prices and locations.
“Couch Surfing” is another great way to find a place to sleep for cheap and meet new friends. I even know some people who have been able to convince their hosts to come to the show with them!
Don’t forget that Airbnb isn’t only to get baller houses for you large groups of friends, but you can also find very cheap rooms/ beds for rent when you are just looking for a place to sleep and maybe some nice conversation in the morning during your morning cup of coffee. I would definitely read reviews when taking this route, but I have had some great experiences paying to sleep on a pullout couch or just a second bed in a spare bedroom.
Rule 4: Cut back on the extras
When looking for hotels or hostel check for a kitchen or kitchenette. This has saved me so many times; going out to eat adds up quickly, and no one wants to live off McDonald’s dollar menu the whole time. Extended Stays are a great for kitchens and having all the supplies you need to cook. Another hack I use is traveling with a hot plate. You can buy them for like $30 and use them to cook inside hotel rooms without kitchens. I have made entire Christmas dinners in one of those pans. In the summer I have been known to use a converter in my cigarette outlet and cook food in the passenger seat of my car. It may take up more space in your car to travel with your own food but it will save you a ton of money. Did you know you can bring your own food and a few personal airplane bottles of booze on the plane? Well, you can – I always bring food with me – you’ll see me on the plane in my $50 seat setting up a little charcuterie board, feeling super classy on a very small budget.
Lower or cut out you alcohol intake; buying beers at the show add up fast, that and quitting cigarettes probably added four more shows on to my tour one summer. How many beers or packs of cigarettes does it take to add up to another concert ticket? When I was touring the Northeast – not many.
Rule 5: GET YOUR OWN REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE!
To me, this seems to be the most basic suggestion of all! Not only are you helping the environment by not going through a ton of plastic water bottles, but you will save a crap ton of money. I take my bottle everywhere! I refill it anywhere! Festivals are starting to catch on with refill station and I think that is AWESOME. I wish it would be a requirement of all festivals to have refill stations and make their number one swag be cups and bottles (if anyone is listening out there). I have been known to fight security at the door if they will not let me bring my bottle in – while I have lost some, I win most. I now research the venue and see if they have a policy against it but more and more places are allowing refillable bottles. Lastly, buy gallons of water and refill you bottles rather than buying a cases of water.
A lot of these recommendation take time and forethought and can be tedious – you’ll have to cross reference things and not everyone likes researching – but get creative! Realize what you want to spend your money on and how a dollar saved here is a dollar you can put somewhere else. I truly believe you speak with your dollar. I’d rather give my dollar to buy a sticker from a tour kid then a bottle of water from the venue. Hopefully not every event is a penny-pinching game, but with these tips and tricks maybe you can throw in a few extra shows. Be real with yourself and learn what you need to have to be comfortable and to fulfill your needs without breaking you budget.