12 Must-Haves For Any Tour (Besides Gear)

Every band that dreams big dreams of going on tour. It’s a rite of passage and an essential piece of any serious band’s promotional efforts. But most of all, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience that will push you to the limits of your ability to perform as a musician — and to survive as a person. And while some musicians are truly born to be wild, thriving on dirty floors and blacked-out trips between gigs, most folks will feel happier on the road with more than a few creature comforts.

Trust me, you won’t want to find out the hard way that the biggest mistake any band or musician can make as they prepare to hit the road is to travel unprepared. And while there’s no set list of what a person needs to be content on a weekend or 5 month tour, these items will practically guarantee that your next tour is the best tour ever. You’ll be happier - and so will your bandmates.


Sunglasses are a crucial part of any successful tour. They make it easier to face the world when you have to hit the road early in the morning. You won’t spend hours of your next driving shift squinting at the road. A good set of shades makes it possible to try and catch some shuteye during the day on long stretches. Red eyes from late-night parties will be hidden, making gas station and motel clerks identify you as a productive member of society.

Plus, sunglasses make you look cool.

You probably already have a set, so make sure to add sunglasses to your tour checklist. Spend a little bit more money than you usually would, too, and you might not lose them as easily as usual. (If you lose them, though, it’s not the end of the world—just pick up another set at the next gas station.)

Phone chargers & batteries

Unless you’re dead-set against joining the smartphone-owning world, you’re probably going to have an iPhone or Android on you at all times, so it’s not even worth mentioning. But you’d be surprised at how many common solutions to road problems rely on phone access. Directions to the next venue, distance to the nearest rest area, calling roadside assistance, dropping a pin at the car so your bassist can find his way back tomorrow—without a phone, these options are all closed off to you, so make sure you’re able to charge your phone wherever. USB car chargers are a classic standby, and spare batteries provide some extra insurance in a pinch.

Power Inverter

Power inverters are for anybody looking to take a step up from USB car chargers. A power inverter lets you turn your van or vehicle into a living room — you can power just about anything from a car battery. This is perfect for hooking up TVs, video games, laptops, recording devices, even cooking devices. Just make sure to only use when the car is running or the battery might drain quicker than you’d expect!


Small duffel bag

Pack your wardrobe light and tight. The size of your duffel bag should be just big enough to fit the clothes you’ll need for the length of the tour. This gives you room to pack cooler stuff, while forcing you to minimize amount of clothes you bring. Having a few pieces of clothing really helps you to not lose anything. Plus, if you roll up your clothes instead of fold them, you’ll conserve space and keep your ZZ Top t-shirt wrinkle-free. If you’re going on a longer tour, you might want to pack fewer clothes and plan on doing laundry someplace on the road. Different bandmates have different tolerances for “road funk”, and that’s okay. We’re not judging. We’re just saying.

Towel and toiletries

Sure, this might seem like a bit much. But “I’ll just use the towel/soap/etc at the place we’re staying tonight” doesn’t work when 3 or more other people are thinking the same thing. Make sure to take what you need -- and that includes other necessities you can’t count on others having, like contact solution or allergy medicine.


A decent set of headphones for everybody in the van is the single best way to avoid coming to blows on the road. Most tour vans will easily seat at least four people, but only have one sound system. And while the lead guitarist is happy to continue listening to hour 3 of the Dead’s Europe ‘72 tapes, maybe you’re feeling like you’d rather listen to Slayer.

Beyond the messy democracy of picking out tunes for the road, finding time to yourself on tour is extremely important. Since you’re going to be spending most of your waking hours in the same van as your band, having something to listen to is a good way to find that “me time.” If you’re not sure what to listen to beyond your favorite music, you might want to consider getting into a new podcast or a book on tape.

Headphones Shop Now

Wi-Fi Hot Spot

Are you ready to live like a 21st Century Internet Bandit on the road? Consider purchasing a Wi-Fi hotspot that’s compatible with your cellphone service. Often offered on a pay-as-you-go plan or purchased in chunks of data, you will be able to surf the internet from your laptop or, more importantly, handle urgent band issues like promotion, graphic design, and emailing while on the road. This will help keep your tour on course, and minimize the need for stopping at random places to use the Wi-Fi.

Before you do buy, though, be aware that most modern phones can double as Wi-Fi Hot Spots. You might be able to use your cell phone to connect your laptop or tablet to the internet on the go—just make sure to look up your data plan to double-check that your phone provider won’t blindside you with fees.



While you may be nervous about bringing your laptop, it will make planning and executing your tour much easier. Typing long messages on your phone will leave your fingers cramped, and being able to design flyers in Photoshop or record music on your iRig will increase your productivity on the road. Just make sure to keep it in a sturdy case and to keep an eye on it at all times, and you won’t regret bringing it along for the ride.

Like many other touring musicians, you might be checking in for your day job on the road, too. Having your laptop on you can mean the difference between “I’ll have this back to you in an hour” and “Let’s talk about it on Monday.”


IK Multimedia iRig 2

IK Multimedia iRig 2

It can be fun to stare out the window and watch the world zooming by, but productive musicians know that traveling from gig to gig is a great opportunity to work on their craft. That’s what makes the iRig2 so cool. This tiny little device lets you connect your instrument and a pair of headphones to your iPhone, mobile device, tablet, or laptop. You can practice, just play, and even record without making any more noise than your instrument makes acoustically, without any cumbersome cables or interfaces to get in the way in a crowded van.

Camera (digital or film) and/or video camera (good or bad)

Bring a camera, any kind of camera, to document the insanity of your tour. If you or a bandmate have a high-quality smartphone, taking videos and pictures for social media websites like Snapchat and Instagram are great ways to promote your shows and music. Traditional handheld digital and analog cameras are also great ways to document the tour, and create interesting source material for any future promotions.


Two pairs of shoes (or more)

You’ll be happy to have an extra pair of shoes when you get caught in a rainstorm changing your van’s flat tire by the side of the road. Trade your soaked shoes for a fresh pair of kicks and feel like a million bucks instantly. Or better yet, bring an extra pair of shoes just to look cool on stage. Make sure the ones you wear off stage keep you comfortable and looking your best and you will feel like the world is your oyster. (And by the way, it should go without saying that if you need an extra set of shoes, you’ll probably want an extra set of socks, too, so be prepared.)

An extra pair of glasses or contact lenses (if you need ‘em)

Breaking your glasses or losing a contact lens on the road is a sure-fire way to make your tour miserable. Having to squint at everybody you meet will make your tour more stressful than it should be. If your contact lens prescription is special (like mine), good luck getting a pair within 4 days. Pack an extra pair of glasses and contact lenses and you can get as wild or careless as you want and still be able to identify the promoter when you show up to the venue.

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