Every band wants to go on tour.

It’s pure excitement, it’s the payoff of all those months spent writing and recording the new album, and finally, you get to take it on the road and play to fans across the country.

But after you finish touring and get home to check your bank account, you’re going to realize very quickly that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Here are a few easy ways to save a couple of bucks when touring and make it much more financially feasible to do again next time!

Pack Your Own Food

Food is one of the major expenses on the road, and no matter where you go to eat it’s a guarantee that it will cost more to buy that food than if you made it yourself.

Instead, why not invest in some non-perishable (or long shelf-life) food items for the trip? Trail mix, cereal, dried fruit, nuts, canned tuna, and peanut butter are all good, healthy options to keep costs down while keeping your spirits and health way up.

If none of those tickle your fancy, augment with them treats and perishables along the way that you can buy as necessary. Milk for the cereal, bread for the peanut butter and jam, and some pop tarts for when your drummer inevitably eats all the other good stuff.

If you’ve got a half-decent cooler, you can stop at a grocery store and buy everything you need to make a bunch of sandwiches that – while perishable – will still cover your lunch and dinner that day at a fraction of the cost. $7.75 for a roast beef sandwich? Come on, Subway.

Play As Many Shows As Possible

Shows are an opportunity to get paid!

Even if you’re a small band that’s getting ripped off and not even paid for the show – in which case we need to have another conversation later – you still have an opportunity to sell some merch. Any chance you have to make money to offset your costs, take it!

It’s nice to have a day off, especially in the summer to enjoy the weather and sightsee, but it’s costing you money. Don’t forget that. Keep the off-days to a minimum.

The more shows you play, the higher the chance that someone is willing to let the band crash at their place, or at least park the van in someone’s driveway so there’s a bit less fear of being murdered compared to the Walmart parking lot.

Don’t Waste Money On Hotels/Motels

Even a cheap hotel is gonna cost you a pretty penny, and that’s only if you managed to convince front desk to let 5 guys (or sneak them in) stay in a single 2-person room.

You’re far better off sucking it up and sleeping in the van. It’s not comfortable, it’s not clean, it’s not fun, but neither is going into debt while pursuing your passion.

You can always try Craigslist ads, couch surfing sites, and posting in local Facebook groups, but some of us aren’t quite as comfortable with strangers, so we’ll stick to the van.

If you get a room, try and use it as a treat and pick it strategically for when you really need a good night’s sleep or a shower.

Go To The Gym (Sort Of)

This is a trick I’ve used quite a bit…

If you’ve got a bit of money, buy a one-month membership on a family plan for a popular gym chain. While working out isn’t saving you money, it’s by far the cheapest way for you to have some great amenities, and consistently.

Between the whole band you’re looking at like $8-10 each for unlimited showers, internet access, an air-conditioned/warm and dry place (depending on the season), and water stations across the country. Some gyms have even more extended benefits for members like saunas and pools if you’ve got time to kick back.

You can always go without showering, or do your best to find a McDonalds with wifi that’s slower than molasses, or for a few bucks you can be way more comfortable and not have to wonder when you’ll get access to internet again to message the promoter back and tell them that they better still have a guarantee for you. You know?

Be Prepared

Many bands just wanna get up and go once they’ve got the shows booked, but careful planning is well worth your time. Saving money isn’t just about penny-pinching, it’s about preventing you from the same quicksand most bands fall into: an unsustainable business model.

The more money you lose on tour, the more debt you gain, the less likely you’ll be able to tour again, or buy a new run of merch, or pay for a new album to be recorded.

Be smart, plan ahead, and save yourself those few dollars to help ensure long-term success.

About The Author