For those of you that travel several weeks or even months out of the year for gigs, over time you tend to develop (and try to keep) some good habits as well as maximize your office space. Here are some tips – and all pictures link directly to an Amazon page:
When packing for a long time away, make sure you know your laundry situation before you leave. If you will be provided with opportunities to send away your laundry to a fluff and fold, then plan to have a day or two more than you may need in between laundry runs.If you will not have any time to do laundry, then pack as much as you can and see about bringing larger luggage / checking bags if you don’t normally do that. Having enough laundry is so important, especially on the final days.One cool gadget to make sure you’re under the weight limits imposed by your airline is a luggage scale (like the one pictured). These will help ensure you aren’t caught having to pay extra money at the ticket counter and they can also help you determine how much your laundry will be (often, it is $1/pound) when it’s time to get it washed at the gig.
One great addition to my luggage was having a large laundry bag to keep dirty and clean clothes separate. This can also double as an easy way to send out your dirty laundry when it’s time. Make sure you always have some cash and envelope handy to tape on your bag, along with labeling the bag with your name somewhere, so it’s easy for them to process your laundry.
For longer gigs, I normally can get by with 1 large suitcase, 1 duffel bag, and my laptop shoulder bag. I’ve been able to fit my laptop, second monitor, numeric keypad, printer, and all cables in it, which leaves more room in my luggage for clothes, tools, and shoes. Don’t forget to put anything sharp in checked luggage – I’ve had a leatherman get confiscated before that I forgot about at the TSA checkpoint.
If you want to keep your daily fitness routine going, first find out the hours of your hotel’s gym, and then try and see how you can fit that in before or after your scheduled hours on-site. If you’re a runner, look to map out a route near the site and/or the hotel that you can easily do before or after work.
Try as best you can to stick to your normal diet once on-site. Most catering setups will have some healthy options, and you can always see about adding some healthy snacks to your team’s runner list. As enticing as those white chocolate cookies may be everyday at lunch, you’ll pay for it in trying to stay awake an hour later.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – as much as possible, avoid caffeine-based drinks that are full of sugar, and try to stick to green tea, coffee (although as a diuretic, both should be consumed in moderation), or super-hydrating drinks like coconut water, Vitamin Water Zero or kombucha. My all-time go to drink is the Synergy Brand Kombuchas – they are the most bitter tasting, but I feel they are the most energizing.If you’re in a part of the country that doesn’t have easy access to those kinds of drinks, or you’re in the middle of the city but can never leave, see if you can order some via InstaCart or Amazon and get it delivered.
As much as possible, aim for the amount of sleep you normally need to stay functioning at a high level – for some people that’s 8 hours, others it’s 4. You know your body, and if you get the gig off to a sleepy start, it’s going to make it harder for you once it’s show day.
Most festivals provide staff with office space, but it usually is at a premium. That said, finding the best balance of what’s best for your productivity versus what space you have is key. I have an 11″ Laptop with a USB powered slim monitor (pictured) and a number pad so I can easily type out invoices / spreadsheets.This uses little more than what my old 17″ laptop used to take up, but it gives me a lot more flexibility. I also make sure to bring along a power strip just in case.
If space allows, I also recommend a portable printer, like the Canon pictured to the right. I can fit my laptop, monitor, printer, and all cables in my shoulder bag, believe it or not. It makes for a very quick setup when you have to be up and running and can’t wait to connect to the main printer or if there isn’t going to be one.
If your job has you in the office or trailer for long periods of time, make sure you get up, walk around, take a quick walk outside – even if it’s really hot or awfully cold. This help reduce eye strain / fatigue from staring at the computer as well as get the blood pumping. If you’ve got a FitBit or other exercise tracking device, see if you can still hit your daily goal even by taking short breaks every so often – you’d be surprised what a ‘lap’ around the site can do; one event day I walked over 45,000 steps!
And if possible, try to find the most comfortable chair, or bring your own if it’s a local gig. Having to sit on a plastic folding chair for weeks on end is terrible for your posture and back. If possible see what other options may be around you, or ask your supervisor if they can help. At the least, you buy a cushion / pillow to help keep you comfortable.
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