Traveling to play music gigs is expensive. Being on the road also takes a lot of planning, time, energy, and day-of alertness for travel plans to be flawlessly executed. Whether touring around your favorite regions of the globe or traveling to a far off city for a music conference, there are a few tricks and tips that can help make your travels go smoothly, and keep your bank account afloat at the same time.
1. Get loyal. Brand loyalty is not just a figment of the advertising industry’s imagination. When you fly regularly on one airline, the miles add up fast. The same goes for car rentals, coffee cards, etc. Rewards, in the form of free flights, upgrades, or coffees, usually come at little or no cost to you. You just need to sign up so the company knows you exist. Of course, some airlines do not travel to where you want to go, so do some research and figure out where do you travel most (or would like to travel most) and what the airlines are that service those areas.
2. Rack up points. Use a credit card with points that go toward travel. Banks and airlines often offer their own unique card, like Citibank’s American Airline Advantage card. I tend to discourage people from using credit cards and falling into the temptations of “buy now, pay later,” so make sure to not spend money you don’t have in the bank and pay off the card every month to avoid nasty interest fees. If you stay on top of your credit card, it can become a valuable asset in saving when you travel.
3. Ask your fans for help. A lot of people don’t travel enough to rack up miles but they may have enough to help get you a free flight. It doesn’t hurt to ask your fans if they have any unused, or soon-to-expire miles they’d like to give you and your band to help keep touring costs down. You’ll have to pay a transfer fee which is usually only a percentage of what the ticket would have actually cost. On my first tour to Europe, I created what I called the “Airline Initiative” where I wrote to my fans and asked who had airline miles that were going to expire or that they weren’t going to use. Two out of the four band members flew for free, thanks to the generosity of a handful of fans! Make sure to reward these generous fans with free tickets to your show when you come to their town.
4. Know what insurance to have. Insurance on car rentals can nearly double the price of your rental. What a lot of people don’t know is that most major credit card companies cover you when you rent a car. Also, if you have your own car insurance you also may be covered. It’s worth a phone call to your credit card company and your insurance company to find out if you are fully covered. Also, airline or travel insurance is another investment that rarely pays off, mostly because the conditions that the insurance actually cover are so specific. On the insurance front: it’s very important to have insurance on your gear, your health, your personal or band vehicle, and your home, whether you rent or own.
5. Shop around and book in advance. The best deals available are usually those booked way in advance. Airlines rarely drop their prices last minute anymore, and tend to be more forgiving if your plans change if you booked more than 30 days in advance. Also, if you need to park or rent a vehicle, online deals can be found everywhere, oftentimes with coupon codes from sites like retailmenot.com.
If you give yourself enough time to set up the system that works for you (becoming an airline frequent flyer member, applying for a travel rewards credit card, giving yourself time to book the flights, car rentals, etc.) and letting folks know about your travel plans, you could be saving bundles of time and money in the long run.
Road Money image via ShutterStock.com.
Cheryl B. Engelhardt is a singer/songwriter and composer. Her website is cbemusic.com and you can follow her on Twitter @CBE. She authored the killer eCourse, “In The Key Of Success: The 5 Week Jump Start Strategy,” which will get your career moving in the direction you want (go get it now). Check out her composing reels and her new epic music video, complete with rock climbing and helicopter shots!
How To Tour As An Indie: On The Road