Posted: Nov 6, 2017
**Guest post written by Andrew Tufano, Nashville based Acoustic Pop Singer-Songwriter.
"When you’re touring full time, every night is an adventure. It’s not always practical to only tour in cities that you know friends with couches you can crash on, and nightly hotels might not make sense in your budget. Finding cheap or free places to sleep is one of the easiest ways to slash your expenses on the road.
The following outlines what I did from age 19 to 21 to tour over 100,000 miles in 40+ states without bequeathing my life savings to the Holiday Inn.
Disclaimer – I’m a white male and every drop of my privilege was put to use while finding places to stay. I hope some of these strategies are still helpful for all DIY touring artists. Whatever your background, there will be times on the road when it feels like all the cards are somehow stacked against you. Focus on yourself, play to your strengths and use what you have.
Look for a living arrangement in your hometown where you only have to pay when you’re not touring. If you’re trapped in a lease or mortgage, sublet your room to a friend or Airbnb your place when you're gone. I couch surfed for 10 months before renting a room out month-to-month from a girl I met on Tinder (there was no romantic involvement, my bio just said I was homeless). My friends with couches probably hated me at times for taking over their living rooms, and I owe all of them.
On the road, I would often take a few minutes on stage to ask audiences at shows for a place to stay. The generosity of strangers towards musicians is astounding. Solicit the crowd near the end of your set. Mention that you’ve made friends at each stop along your route, and crashed on many a stranger’s couch. Ask if anybody in the room has a spare couch and wants to hang out later. Practice crafting your demeanor and stage presence at each show, and work to present yourself as safe and friendly.
If you’ve never slept in the car, it’s not as bad as it sounds! Find a Walmart Supercenter, park in the back of the lot, and wedge t-shirts in window cracks like curtains. If your car is big enough, put the seats down, lay your gear flat or across the front seats, and squeeze an air mattress in the trunk. The arrangement I had fit two people, and was honestly more comfortable than most motel beds.
If your car isn’t that big, or you don’t wanna look like a crazy person foot-pumping an air mattress in a Walmart parking lot at 1:30am, put the front seat back and wedge the pillow against the window. Be cautious – one time I did this and drove in my sleep from one parking spot to another. Despite pulling off an impressive parking job for an unconscious person, I kept the keys a little out of reach from that night forward. Brush your teeth in the Walmart bathroom that morning and buy a banana or two for breakfast.
Sometimes it makes more financial sense to drop $45 on a motel than exhausting yourself sleeping under Walmart floodlights in the backseat of a van. Every dollar counts, and if you know you’ll be less productive in the morning after several nights of rough sleep, take the plunge and look for discounted hotel rooms that night. Make the money back tomorrow when you’re well rested. Know your limits, take advantage of free continental breakfast, and get some sleep."
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