Road Worrior: The Vagabond Life

By Billy Lee Lewis

Published in DRUM! Magazine's March 2009 Issue

Spending extended periods of your life in a different hotel every night can be extremely disorienting. Having suffered and enjoyed a long career of 24-hour leases, I thought I’d pass on a few tips that allowed me to make the most of the vagabond life.

Let’s start with parking. Choose a well-lit spot, ideally facing a wall, utility pole, or the like, and back into it. This will preclude anyone opening the back doors. Oh yeah, be sure to get your stuff out first. Never mind how I know.

If rooms are booked in advance, reserving first floor rooms obviates a lot of extra schlepping – something none of us need more of while touring. If your luggage is accessible while you’re driving, er, riding, it can help to fill a backpack with whatever you’ll need until morning, i.e., toiletries, clean clothes, an so on. This will help take the lug out of luggage. If you’re a jeans and T-shirt person, you’re set. If you’re the hanging clothes type, put your gear on one hanger, strap on the backpack, and you’ll still have one hand free to try to figure out how the Motel 6 key-card works.

At check in, I find it helpful to have at least one master list of room numbers. This can be a lifesaver when the “death-napper” (and every band has one) has slept past departure time, and continues to doze blissfully through calls to room phone, cell phone, or even the simultaneous clarion call of both. If you forget the room list, try following the sound of in-hotel renovation, as these guys not only sleep the soundest, but snore the loudest, as well. Always establish departure times for your next group trip out to sound check or whatever. This way, you’re not chasing down several people when it’s time to go. Subsequent times can be established as needed.

Once in your room, construct a regular pattern for placing belongings, especially small ones. When not on my person, I keep the room key, cash, ID, and such on the omnipresent chest of drawers. This way, when you do sleep past departure time (and, at some point, you will), you’re not frantically tossing a strange room, searching for your necessities.