Travel tips for DJs
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I have previously travelled to places like Los Angeles and China. I have travelled to see acts like David Guetta, Nero and Rudimental. Several DJs have given me ideas for this article.
You can either let your event manager book your travel or book your travel yourself. You would give information on your travel needs in your hospitality rider; this is part of your technical rider. Click here for details about technical/hospitality riders.
I'd advise you to do as much preparation as possible regarding music before your trip. The trip would be less stressful and more enjoyable.
Hotel and public wifi can be insecure. In my experience hotel wifi can be slow, and sometimes impossible to use.
Getting your own mobile internet there could be worthwhile. Previously I got mine at the destination's airport.
You can also use a local SIM card to text and receive calls. This could be useful for dealing with promoters etc.
Roaming with your current mobile provider is probably an option for you, but this could be expensive. If you go this route, then make sure it's enabled prior to leaving.
It could be a good idea to pack 90% of what you need two days before your trip. This will help prevent you from rushing around five minutes prior to leaving.
It's best to empty out all bags and things like record boxes before you start packing them, you never know what you might leave in there.
Some airlines have frequent flyer schemes and lounges with free food/drinks. If you fly frequently with them then it could be worth joining these.
Flights get delayed or cancelled. If you can afford it get your flight a few days before your trip. Try to get connecting flights at least two hours apart if you can, because from experience I know that things can be stressful if things don't go smoothly.
You may want to arrive 30 minutes earlier than required, in case you get held up.
If your trip is international, you'll need to have a valid passport. Make sure that you know where it is and it's not expired.
You'd probably need a work visa, you can get deported if you don't have this. You may need someone to sponsor this, some venues will do this, but many agencies do this too. Don't try to skip this step, or you may end up at a detention facility.
Immigration officials can check social media to see if you've played in the country before etc. Lying to them by saying you're just going on holiday may be a bad idea. In some cases you may get banned from the country.
You may also need to get some vaccines.
Getting a Universal Power Adaptor could be necessary for some trips otherwise your some of your devices may not work.
Get a universal power adapter at amazon.
A smartphone can assist if you don't speak the native language of the country. Personal translators are expensive but I had one in China once.
You should research what season it is in the country that you're traveling to, then you can pack appropriate clothes.
I always stock up at Duty Free. Occasionally I will purchase some and drink it on the trip.
Most E.D.M. DJs don't localize their music; they would do their sets with English lyrics.
Mainstream songs have versions in other languages. If your set contains mainstream songs, then you may want to check with the promoter if acquiring them would be appropriate.
Ear plugs can be useful if you need to sleep and there's noise. Accommodation can be noisy and also flights could be problematic for sleeping.
I was once staying on a busy street in China and ear plugs definitely helped me to sleep.
Depending on the accommodation, you will hear noises from the other guests. Ear plugs also help with this issue. I wish that hotels were more sound proof!
You may want to avoid staying at backpackers as they can be noisy.
A good sleep the night before could be worthwhile before domestic trips, too.
You may find an eye mask useful.
I have tried sleeping pills, but they don't seem to work on me.
Lots of people recommend Melatonin, but you should talk to a doctor before taking it.
From my understanding, you can become reliant on sleeping pills if you're talking them frequently. I would consider Melatonin every three months, but again you should assess options with your doctor.
My best tip would be to not to look at screens for an hour before you sleep, because blue light from screens can keep you awake. I am including your phones with this. You may need less time.
You can get apps to shut off blue light before bed, and whilst I found this helpful; I still need relax for at least 15 minutes before I head to bed.
I always listen to music before bed, because this helps me sleep. I got insomnia before I started relaxing before bed. It's not guaranteed that my suggestions will work for you.
To ensure that I enjoy trips, I arrive a day before or have two days free after the gigs. This might be a good idea if you want to enjoy the scenery etc.
You might not want to do this if it isn't financially sustainable, or if you have a family to get back to.
Do DJs usually travel with equipment?
Most DJs would just take a USB drive and/or a computer.
They don't travel with other equipment unless they're using custom equipment. The amount of DJs who would travel with custom equipment is small.
Most promoters provide equipment, but renting items is an option if you're organizing events yourself.
Checking with the promoter if you need to bring anything a week or so before your gig could be worthwhile.
If you do need to travel with equipment, then I would recommend ensuring they're small enough so they do not have to get checked in. Checked in luggage can cost to check in, and can get damaged easily.
You wouldn't want to lose your USB drive with your songs on it before your gigs. You should probably have a back up of your drive at home, in case you lose your USB drive after the gigs.
If you do lose your USB drive, an online back up could probably save you. You would buy a USB drive at the location and download the songs. You'll need good internet access for this plan to work. If you lose the drive a few hours before your gig you may be out of luck as shops may be closed or you won't have time to download songs.
Many people would bring a laptop or tablet. It's good if you don't like the in-flight entertainment. I like to use flights to write books.
You'd probably want to back up your drives before your trip. Sometimes things get lost or stolen. If your files disappear, I imagine it isn't a fun time. Most people use clouds to back up these days, but external hard drives is also an option.
You may want to take a good camera, or phone with a camera. You may want to take pictures of your trip and post them on social media. Perhaps you just want photos to help you remember the good times.
Physical cash could be useful. It's especially useful depending on where you are in the world.
You may not want to have all cash on you when you go out. Some accommodation providers would have a safe that you store cash in.
You can also just withdraw cash in increments. You could get a debit card which doesn't allow you to overdraft if you need to budget a set amount. Using your A.T.M. card is also an option.
Some credit cards allow you to exchange money at the bank without currency conversion fees. I have one of those credit cards.
It's best to know what food you can have before your trip. Trying the wrong thing could give you food poisoning, and you don't want that before a gig or flight! I basically lived on McDonalds when I went to China, but I am a very fussy eater!
It's probably a really bad idea to drink too much before a flight or gig, and then fall asleep. You might want to drink only a sensible amount.
Also, be mindful that shots can be bigger depending on the country and alcohol quality can vary. You may wish to reduce the number of drinks if you're feeling merrier than usual.
You may want to buy bottled water at your location. The water may be dodgy and you could prevent getting sick. I do this sometimes.
Purchasing travel insurance is standard, but from experience it offers no compensation when you're at the airport and you haven't noticed that your passport has expired. Travel insurance is still worthwhile getting.
If you don't get medical insurance for your trip, then it could cost you thousands of dollars if you need care. Getting medical insurance for your trip is worthwhile.
Some credit cards offer free medical insurance when you travel. I have such a credit card, but I don't qualify for the perk because I have a pre-existing condition, so that's just useless!
Lists can be helpful if you tend to forget things. They can be on a phone/computer or you can write the lists down on a notepad.
You can have one for packing and one for just before you leave for the gig.
Be sure to set alarms when you need to get up, either before a gig or flight. You can usually request some hotels to call you as an alarm. Setting other alarms could be worthwhile, too.
Smart phones have an alarm. You may want to turn other notifications off if you do this.
Booking the trip yourself
Most promoters would handle tasks such as booking flights and doing the promotion for you, but here are some tips if you need to do these things yourself.
You probably would want to see if the chosen date for the gig conflicts with another similar gig before you book. It's possible that some would come up after you've booked, but there's little that you can do about this.
How to travel cheaply
If booking yourself it may be wise to have a credit card that gives you frequent file miles. However this works best if you have lots of expenses that you can put on your credit card, and you can pay it off every month.
The cheapest accommodation would be staying with friends or a backpacker's. When I was going to concerts every few months I just stayed with a friend. I've also done a gig and stayed in a backpacker's.
Some airlines have deals on their website occasionally, or there may be a special website with booking deals for airlines. Keep an eye on them and see if you can get a deal.
Facebook advertising is an option or Facebook groups. You'd want to join any Facebook groups at least six months in advanced as some will take a while to approve your membership. Before posting, you should see if the group allows for promotion of events.
Facebook advertising allows you to target people by age groups and location. This may be a good option. You could also look into advertising on other platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.
You could pay local influencers to promote your gig and/or offer them a free ticket.
You may want to find out what the popular event listing websites for the city/state/country and list your event on those websites. You could do the same with other local websites and newspapers.
Contacting and/or advertising on local radio stations in the area may be an option. If you're an EDM DJ then find out if any dance oriented radio stations in the location exist.
You could contact local people and have them hand out flyers, or see if a local club will take your flyers, they would print out the flyers.
I have written another article on event promotion.
Costs of traveling
If you're booking the trip yourself, then you'd probably need to pay for the travel to the location and back, traveling around the location, food, insurance, reliable internet, other fees, and more.
Travel expenses can be written off in most cases, but you should talk to an accountant about this.
You need to pay for a passport every so often. Vaccinations may also cost.
Potential things that can go wrong
You can lose your passport and wallet. A former manager of mine lost his passport when I was doing a gig in Melbourne.
At least twice when I returned from overseas my credit card information got stolen. This could be a coincidence but I doubt it. Maybe you should get a second credit card to take with you, because changing credit cards for all of the sites you're a member of isn't fun!
You could get held at gunpoint and/or mugged. Luckily this hasn't happened to me, but this is a rare possibility. You may want to research the crime rates of the town/city that you're going to.
Crime can happen at your local club, too.
The club could get raided. I'd advise not to have illegal drugs at clubs to minimize problems arising from this. You may want to research if raids are common in the area that you're going to.
If the accommodation booking isn't confirmed you could be without accommodation. Sometimes the accommodation provider will require someone to contact them on a certain date, and will cancel your accommodation if it's not done. You may want to contact your accommodation provider a day before your trip to verify the booking is confirmed.
Thanks for reading
I love traveling and hope that you found my tips helpful.