Hidden Expenses of Taking Your Band on the Road?

Gas. Food. Lodging. These are the three major expenses anyone plans on before hitting the road. For musicians toting gear, instruments and other band members around, that means more gas, more food and more lodging. If you’ve never toured before, you can’t be blamed for not thinking about the extra, unplanned expenses that often crop up. A lot of the unexpected expenses listed here can be avoided with some advance planning. broke_man

Strings and drum sticks break, or get left behind. The small town club may not have the cords you expected they would. Guitar picks and tuners are something that many players take for granted, but they don’t magically appear on the road like they seem to at home. Scenarios such as these can leave you scrambling to find a music store open at 9 p.m. in the middle of Kansas.

Vehicle breakdowns and repairs
You may have been on dozens of trips without a flat tire or an overheated vehicle, so it’s easy not to think about breakdowns, but if you tour long enough it’s bound to happen. Alleviate roadside emergencies by joining the American Automobile Association (AAA). They don’t take care of all repairs, but a membership will provide a tow to the nearest service station, some minor repairs and even a locksmith service if you lose your keys or lock yourself out. Otherwise, you’ll be springing for all this on your own.

The importance of doing your laundry has been discussed previously in these pages, but it can’t be stressed enough: you will need to buy detergent and wash you clothes while on tour. Nuff said.

Sickness and medicine
One of those things no one seems to plan on before touring is getting sick or hurt while on the road. Medicine and emergency room visits are costly. Bring a well-stocked first aid kit that includes the most common over-the-counter pain relievers and cold/flu/sore throat medications.


Drinking water is a basic necessity we take for granted, until we’re stuck between towns and interstate exits with none around, or inside a dingy club with rusty faucets and filthy bathrooms. Be prepared by springing for a case or two of bottled water before embarking.

Worst case scenario: canceled tour and stolen gear
If you must cancel the tour for some reason, you’ll need money you didn’t earn from performances to get back home. Have a get-back-home-quick stash ready, just in case.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking thing that can happen to any touring act is having their gear and instruments stolen. It’s happened too many times to count, to acts big and small. If it happens to your act, you’ll need money (or enough credit) to purchase or rent new gear to carry on.