This weekend I’m on the road. We have quite many trips per year with the Finnish Navy Band and almost always we travel by our bus. It is in a way pretty smart. I just have to know when is our departure time, but still if anything should happen I can call to let people know if I’m for example coming late. And we are able to travel wherever there is a road. Someone is doing a lot of work to plan it everything ready for us and we just have to follow the plan. During the past few years I have found my own way to do traveling smoothly and here are my tips for all musicians.
I always prefer to take as little luggage with me as possible. That is easier in leisure trips than in working trips. But my goal is always one bag only. The best is to think about how can you carry everything at once. Backpacks and over shoulder bags leave your hands free for opening the doors.
You also must consider which things to bring with you on the coach and which items can travel in the luggage compartment and divide them in separate bags. Even if you didn’t need some hygiene products during the drive it might be wiser to take them with you since during the winter it might be too cold for some cosmetics and too hot during the summer. We usually stay in the hotels so there is no need for a towel. This time we stayed only one night so I could fit all my personal items in one large backpack.
Instrument and accessories
For the working trips I need to bring my instrument with me. At the moment I usually need only my B flat clarinet. I have few different kind of cases but I prefer two of them. One is with a shoulder strap and other one is a small hard case. The small case is possible to fit inside a bigger bag with other things. Because wooden instruments are sensitive with temperature changes I always keep the clarinet in the passenger department and take it with me in the room for the nights. It depends a lot about the work how many accessories I need but usually they won’t take too much space with my personal stuff. Sometimes we need to bring also the note stand and my bigger reed case doesn’t fit inside the clarinet case. Of course you have to take care of your sheet music material too.
I’m not the huge fan of suit bags but sometimes it’s handy. Usually if I take it with me I will pack my other clothes or stuff in the bag as well. But most of the times I just pack my uniform with other clothes in my personal bag. The material of the uniform is in this way really good because it doesn’t get wrinkled very easily. My experience is that you can pack also most of the dresses in a loose roll for the traveling and then let it hang for a while. This time I took one cloth hanger and keep my uniform jacket hanging in the bus. It also provides a good shade from the bright winter sun so I can still see what I am writing on my laptop.
Food and water
I always have a water bottle with me or buy one on the road. It’s good to take a look of the travel plan if it’s possible and plan when there is a break for eating. Few years ago I started to follow the rule of eating every 3 to 4 hours and my life got a lot better. It meant that I also quit snacking between meals or if I know there is over 4 hours between the meals, I will eat a small healthy snack like yogurt or a fruit to keep the hunger away just little bit longer. Okay sometimes it is difficult to eat all healthy during the trips and I admit, sometimes I also have sweets or chocolate but it is fine when it doesn’t happen every week. I plan my meals for the day when I now the timetables. If we leave, let say, after midday I will usually eat a proper lunch before the trip begins. If we have really early start it might be smarter to eat breakfast in the bus. Cooler bags are great to store the food for hours and the overhead compartment in our bus stays quite cool all times. We also have a microwave oven so it is possible to get a warm meal as well.
We don’t have a toilet in our bus and that is one reason I sometimes bring the breakfast with me. I love to drink tea and we don’t stop every hour so I have to be ready to hold for at least two hours. Yeah, this is not always very convenient. But it is part of the traveling and planning.
Try to make the traveling as fun for you as possible. Watch movies, listen to music, play games or read books. I also brought my laptop with me so I can write this blog and emails. For me the time goes a lot faster if I have something to focus on. Of course if you suffer from travel sickness you need to keep your eyes on the road but you can probably listen to music or even audio books. I try to think that this time I spent on the road is also time to relax and do nothing or do the things you have in your to-do list but you feel like you can’t just waste hours for them at home. For example I still didn’t update the list of all concerts in my Performances-page since August… I might do it later today.
At some point of the trip you might feel very tired and of course you can just sleep and rest. To make it more comfortable you can create a nest for you. Use your jacket as a blanket and any sorts of pillows are good. I also have ear plugs or I will listen to music with my Bluetooth headphones. Occasionally also eye masks are useful. If you are lucky enough you will have two seats just for you to make it easier to change your sitting position. Sometimes we have to sit together with someone but it can be fun too if you a very social.
I hope you will find some of these tips useful or get some ideas to improve your traveling.