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Three Things Touring Artists Must Do: Plan, Plan, and Plan.

Strategy is for amateurs; logistics is for professionals.

Translated, that means the big idea—getting on the road to promote your art or music and make some money—is important.

But having a solid plan for getting from here to there and all the points in between is critical. In fact, professional logisticians say one plan is the same as not having a plan at all because something always goes wrong. Having a primary plan and a backup is the same as having one plan because … something always goes wrong. Having three carefully thought alternatives may be your best shot at completing a sane, profitable tour.

One of the first things to think about is how life on the road will affect your mental and emotional health. How much sleep do you need to function effectively? How many headaches per day can you stand? If you’re traveling with others, how much personality grind is too much?

After getting as much of a handle as possible on all of that, here are some tips to travel planning:

Plan Your Trip

A change of scenery can be a huge boost for your artistic processes, so targeting a destination that speaks to your soul and creativity is a good place to start your tour plan. If you’re one of those people who think the journey is more fun than the destination, plan to overnight at spots that pique your interest and inspire you to create music, art, or write. That’s the fun part. The important part is putting together the details. How long will it to get where you want to go? What happens if something goes wrong (and it will) along the way? Where are you going to stay? What are you going to eat? Logisticians take those factors and others like them into account when developing their plans.

Plan Your Transportation

Choosing your transportation can be challenging. First, you must decide how you’ll get to your destination and how you’ll be moving around. If you’re crossing an ocean, you’re going to need an airplane or a boat. You might need a plane for a domestic tour, depending on how much time you have to get from Point A to Point B and how far apart they are. Most touring artists, though, are literally on the road, so a van, tour bus, or truck will work, again depending on how many people and how much stuff you have to take.

The type of vehicle you choose will depend on the size of your crew, budget, and schedule. For example, a dual-rear-wheel pickup truck has unique features that enable artists to travel long distances successfully. Duallies have two extra rear wheels and higher towing power. This means you can tow a camper where you can cook, bathe, and sleep, or a trailer for equipment.

Plan Your Finances

Everything about a trip is defined in dollars—especially how much you want to bank after all the expenses are paid. If you have a tour promoter, figure 15% will come off the top along with what you’ll owe the tax man. Another part will go to transportation, lodging, meals, and incidentals - that’s your break-even point. When making your budget, figure out ways you can earn some side money: Maybe offer some classes online, blog or vlog, or take a side job if you’re going to be in one place for a while.

Artistic creativity and traveling are an excellent combination, as they create a sense of freedom and inspiration. However, being a touring artist can be stressful if you don’t plan. To be a successful artist on the road, choose a destination that suits your interests, invest in the right transportation, and manage your finances wisely.

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