How to Go on Tour*

by Emily Panic

*Or Have an Amazing Road Trip

Hi ladies! We’re going on tour! This is great; we’re so excited about the combination of playing a million shows and sitting in a van for a million hours. We love it. This is how we do it right.


We want to have cute show outfits and comfy clothing for travel, we want to pack light, and we want to tour cheaply.

1. Resist the urge to pack one million show outfits. You’re playing different cities every night, no one will know if you wear the same thing twice (or three times!).
2. Pack accessories/separates/shoes that can be matched with most everything. I always bring a good pair of black leggings and two pairs of heels — one silver and one gold. One of them will always match and metallics look great on stage.
3. Bring something comfortable to travel in that’s still cute — like leggings, some cute t-shirts, and comfy flats or sneakers. I also make sure to bring socks with grippers on them for when I take my shoes off in the van. Don’t forget a sweatshirt or sweater.
4. Pack weather-appropriate, and be as prepared as possible. Check the weather, you might need a pair of warm, durable boots and a jacket.


I always bring a book, a graphic novel, and a magazine, which I find covers all of my reading needs, and I load my iPhone up with podcasts, music, standup comedy, and games. My favorites from last tour, respectively: How to Talk Dirty and Influence People by Lenny Bruce, Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron by Dan Clowes, Comedy Bang Bang, The Podcast with Scott Aukerman, Edip Akbayram — self titled, The Top Part — John Mulaney, backgammon, Chicktionary, and Words with Friends.


These are things I don’t scrimp on, and I find that they are almost more important than clothing. My essential products are:

Face wipes that also remove makeup and don’t require rinsing. When you come home from a show either drunk or just exhausted, you want to exert as little effort as possible before bed. Also: facial moisturizer, ear swabs, razor, bobby pins, portable hair dryer, hair smoother, and hairspray. Sometimes I bring shampoo, conditioner, and lotion (although these are generally provided in hotels). Get travel sizes OR buy travel bottles to fill up with your normal products. Top picks: Ponds face towelettes, Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizer, and Bed Head Afterparty.

For makeup I always bring cover up, powder, black mascara, highlighter (looks so good on stage!), an eye shadow or two (at least one shimmery kind for the stage), and two lipsticks — one pink and one red. My favorites are Stila Perfecting Concealer, Buxom Lash Mascara, Benefit High Beam, Nars eye shadow in Divine and Night Star, and Lime Crime lipsticks in Retrofuturist and Countessa.


You will be compelled to snack often when you’re sitting in a van for hours, and you’ll be forced to eat badly on the road. Before you leave, pack some healthy snacks like fruit (apples, clementines, dried apricots), trail mix — good source of protein (almonds are best) — and health bars (Luna, Special K). All of which should be eaten in moderation. To make the best of your bigger meals I suggest:

1. When possible stop at a supermarket. They often have prepackaged salads, cut fruit and vegetables, yogurt and hummus (to be eaten immediately). They also have deli counters where you can get a wrap.
2. At regular restaurants I’ll often try to split a meal with a bandmate (portions are so big and it saves money) or order an appetizer or salad.
3. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and eat at fast food restaurants. In this case I try to either get something small like a snack wrap or salad, or get a grilled chicken sandwich and remove half or the whole bun (no mayo, bacon or cheese) or abstain and eat some trail mix/nutrition bar instead.*

(*Exceptions to this are certain fast food restaurants like In-n-Out or Chik-fil-A, which are regional and delicious and should be properly indulged in at least once.)


1. Shower as often as possible.
2. Carry your toothbrush/paste in your purse and continue brushing at least twice a day. Also carry gum.
3. Deodorant: Wear it.
4. There is very little personal space to be had on the road so if a bandmate smells, you have to tell them. Don’t be accusatory but be direct. Everyone will thank you for it.
5. Carry hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes in your purse. I use Summers Eve Simply Sensitive Cleansing Cloths.

Do’s & Don’ts

DON’T take your purse with all of your money, iPhone, etc. drunkenly to the beach at 2 a.m., put it down and then walk to the water, even if the guys say “it’ll be fine!” It won’t be! It will be stolen. Don’t put your purse down anywhere in the open and walk away, and don’t keep all of your money, IDs and generally important stuff in one place; stash some of your money in your luggage.

DON’T engage every person who tries to talk to you and/or buy you drinks in conversation, especially the creepy French promoter who is WASTED and keeps touching your bare shoulders. Be very blunt with him. Be nice(ish) to everyone else, but keep it short and walk away if you’re not interested.

DON’T get wasted before the show (obviously), but also don’t get TOO wasted after the show if you can help it. You’re playing so many shows! Being hungover in a moving van all day sucks, seriously. Also, touring is hard work and exhausting, so try to get a good night’s sleep when you can.

On a related note: DON’T do too many drugs! When your agent hands you ecstasy stop and think about whether you REALLY need to be on ecstasy right now at 4 a.m. Just think about it. (Ed.: Do NO drugs!)

DON’T drink too much coffee before a long drive — your bandmates will get mad when you have to stop and pee 10,000 times.

DO have a pillow in the van.

DO be nice to/make friends with your crew; they work so hard and are responsible for your sound and stage setup and acting like a diva will not get you anywhere. Also, they’re usually pretty cool and have good stories! The same goes for the other band(s) you’re touring with: You’ll be spending a lot of time with all of these people and it’ll be much more enjoyable for everyone if you all get along.

Being frugal is important, but DO treat yourself to a nice meal or splurge on a piece of clothing at least once. How often do you get to eat in Paris or go vintage shopping in Cleveland? (TIP: Vintage and thrift shopping is best in smaller towns and cities because they are generally cheaper and less picked over.)

DO look up friends and family in the cities you’re going to and invite them to your shows. Being on tour is a great opportunity to see people you don’t often get to, and for them to see you in action!

A Few More Tips

Sitting in the van for hours makes you feel sluggish, so the guys and I do jumping jacks at every rest stop to make up for our lack of physical activity

Keep your camera ready! There are some ridiculously stupid/racist/religious signs out there, and also beautiful sights that you should definitely document. Also, it’s fun to have a cheesy disposable camera. The best part is getting it developed at the end to see what you came up with. The instant gratification of a digital camera can take all the fun out of it.

Pack aspirin.

Great! So we’re all ready for our tour now. We’re sure to overpack and also forget something important, and we will definitely have at least one regrettable makeout or other drunken incident that our bandmates and friends will hold over our heads for many tours to come, but that’s all part of the fun. Have a great trip, everyone!

Emily Panic plays bass in some bands and sometimes she does other things!