Touring Musician 101: Pack Light

5 May

It’s obvious, but we all say it and then it’s really hard to do. Of course, you’re packing light for the consideration of the other people on the tour who need room for their stuff, and there’s also the fact that usually you travel with a lot of gear and that stuff takes up space.

Then there’s the sheer practicality of…who wants to carry that much stuff all the time? Every time you want to unload the gear, you’ll have to unload your personal bags and then load them back in the vehicle. Then when you need to put the gear back IN, you’ll want to unload and load your personal bags again so they are up front and handy. This is a crazy amount of moving stuff around.

Many times, unless you travel with 3 vicious canines like we do, you will also want to carry your electronic gear into venues and such with you so it doesn’t get ripped off. This means, pack even lighter. Here’s a math equation:

The weight of your crap is compounded 2.5 times per day spent on the road.

——- MATH TIME! ———-

W2 = 2.5^2 W
with W0 being your starting weight and W 1 being the weight at the end of day 1 and W 2 being the end of day 2
SW = Starting Weight
CW = Current Weight

CW = SW X 2.5^day

——- END MATH TIME! ———-

(Math Time was brought to you by my friend Stephanie, because I could never figure that kind of thing out. Thanks, Stephanie!)

If you leave the house with 12 pounds of luggage for a 14 day tour, you will be lugging around 4,470,348.36 pounds of sheer dead weight by tour’s end. This is not accounting for you acquiring anything new…this is just the strange mathematical force of your existing possessions actually getting heavier as they sit in a moving vehicle.

The general rule of thumb is…if you forget it, you can buy it. If you think you might need it but you’re not sure, leave it at home and if you miss it you can buy it. Caveat: this does not include things like portable electronic devices and their chargers. Chargers are expensive, don’t forget them.

The less is more principle also means you stand a lower chance of losing your stuff. The more stuff you have in a hotel room, the more you will spread it around and the more likely you will leave something. (See caveat about chargers. Do I sound like I’m speaking from experience?) Anyway, it’s way easier to eyeball your bags and make sure everything looks like it’s there if there’s not 459 items stuffed in them.

My favorite road bag is a Timbuk2 messenger bag. I drug one around for about 3 years before it got a tiny hole in the bottom from being scraped along the floor/street one too many times (see above paragraph about packing too much and then consider the fact that sometimes I ignore my own advice). I promptly replaced it with another. Also, they look cool. Spend some time at REI or something and find a high quality travel bag, ideally one that can mush up against other stuff. Reinforced steel framed luggage is good for flying, but not so much for shoving in a trailer.

Booking Hat

Or you can just wear a tall hat and shove your stuff in it.

These simple tips and equations will help you have a breezy and successful tour, as well as save you from a lifetime of spinal issues.

2 Responses to Touring Musician 101: Pack Light



May 5th, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Appropriately timed for me to read! It’s a tiny bit different, but really so much applies. Sheesh. 🙂



May 6th, 2011 at 12:56 pm

But you’re moving so don’t worry about the math equation as much 😉

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