Nov 6, 2019

Here’s What I Packed For A Month-Long Road Trip With A Band

For the next few weeks, I’ll be touring the U.S. and Canada with a band (plugging the great Winnetka Bowling League and Sasha Sloan!) as their photographer and videographer. An entire month, a show almost every night, and what I’m sure will be thousands of photos

I’ve toured before, but this will be the longest I’ve been on the road in one go. However, I'm hardly a stranger to packing for long trips. This past year alone, I’ve spent about half the year in Los Angeles, half the year in New York, added London to the mix of cities I shoot in, not to mention the other tour I did this summer. There were a few months where I didn’t even bother to put away my luggage because I just unpacked it, did laundry, and repacked.

After the year I've had, I've definitely streamlined my packing process and there are several things that no matter how long I'm gone, I wouldn't dream of leaving out of my suitcase.

Click through to see some of my tour — and life — essentials. And if you want to come say hi along the way, check out the tour schedule.

Sarah Midkiff is a writer, photographer, and content creator who is passionate about music, working with artists, and capturing the unforgettable energy of a concert. You can find her on Instagram and at sarahmidkiff.com.
 
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Luggage

Because space is tight on tour, I keep my luggage situation simple: one large suitcase, my camera bag, and a larger belt bag to carry my must-haves.

I have a Large Away suitcase. It's big enough to live out of for a month on the road, and the hard case is essential for keeping my stuff protected when it's regularly getting stacked up with other suitcases and gear.

Away Large Suitcase, $, available at Away
Nearly all my gear fits in this camera backpack, but the best part is that this bag has adjustable sleeves for my camera bodies, lenses, and accessories. It also has a spot for my laptop. I keep my camera set up pretty simple. (Is 5 cameras simple?) This bag allows me to keep nearly everything in one place.

Bag Smart Camera Backpack, $, available at Amazon
Last but not least, I pack a large belt bag or sling bag. I was late to the game on belt bags, but now I am a total convert. A large belt bag is perfect for carrying extra batteries, memory cards, or a lens while I'm shooting the show without having to carry around my full camera bag.

Nike Nike Tech Sling Bag, $, available at Urban Outfitters

Clothing

On tour, my outfits can be broken down into two categories — show days and non-show days.

Versatility and the ability to mix and match everything is the key to tour packing. Think of it as the ultimate test for your capsule wardrobe. I stick to tried and true favorites that I know I'll wear like thick knit sweaters, leather pants, cute and comfy clothes for travel days, and shoes I can walk around all day in. I also have to pack for a few different types of weather. I might start a tour in the midwest where I need a heavy coat and a sweater, but end the tour in Los Angeles and I need something a little lighter.

That being said, I will throw everything into my suitcase and then take a little advice from Coco Chanel about simplifying. Pack everything you think you'll need, then before you go, take a few things out.


Free People Lucky You Rib Layering Top, $, available at Verishop
On a show day, I will be in head-to-toe black. It’s not me trying to look cool and mysterious (maybe a little), but my job is to see and not be seen. If I’m side-stage or getting a few shots from behind an amp or the drum kit, I don’t want to distract from the show, so I keep my outfit as dark as possible.

H&M Sweater with Dolman Sleeves, $, available at H&M
Wearing all black lets me move around and get the footage and the shots I need without most people noticing I’m there. I tend to stick to staples that I'll wear over and over again. Leather pants might not seem like a wardrobe basic, but trust me, they are.

& Other Stories Leather Kick Flare Trousers, $, available at & Other Stories
A henley shirt is the perfect example of a tour staple. It works by itself or layered under sweaters and jackets.

American Eagle Long Sleeve Ribbed Henley T-Shirt, $, available at American Eagle
I only pack things that go with nearly everything I'm packing. If it only goes with one or two things, it doesn't go in my suitcase.

Levi's Ribcage Straight Ankle Women's Jeans, $, available at Levi's
Sometimes I bring other shoes, telling myself that I’m definitely going to wear them, but if I’m honest, I pretty much live in Dr. Martens on tour. I’m on my feet for hours and they are one of the few pairs of shoes that won’t leave my feet aching by the end of the night. I'll rotate between a classic combat boot and a creeper like the Sidney platform.

Dr Martens Dr. Marten Jadon, $, available at Urban Outfitters
My non-show day outfits are, let’s face it, mostly black, but I do mix it up a bit, I promise! My top priority is comfort since off days are mostly spent on the bus. Thank goodness athleisure is still going strong because it's the perfect fit for rolling out of the sprinter van and going straight to exploring a new city with the band.

Adidas SST Track Jacket, $, available at ASOS
If I'm not out shooting with the band, you can count on me being glued to my computer editing. My glasses are prescription, but I think anyone that spends hours staring at a screen each day (read: all of us) benefit from glasses that cancel out blue light and screen glare.

EyeBuyDirect Movement Square Rose Gold Eyeglasses, $, available at EyeBuyDirect
While most of what I wear on tour is very casual, I learned that no matter what you do, always bring at least one cute outfit. I never know what the band and I will get up to.

All I know is that I won’t make a repeat of the last tour where I was frantically trying to figure out if my combat boots and Jurassic Park-era Laura Dern shorts worked for a pool-side party. A cute dress or a nice top that will pair well with leather pants is the one thing I'll bring on tour not knowing if I'll wear it, but I like to know that I have it just in case.

Reformation Bernadette Dress, $, available at Reformation

Camera Gear

My camera gear is arguably the most important thing that I pack the entire tour, but spending a month on the road means that I end up packing so much more than my camera and favorite lenses.

I edit whenever I can find the time and wherever I can find time be it on the road, backstage, or at a coffee shop on a day off. Having a heavy-duty external hard drive, portable batteries, and noise-canceling headphones are absolutely necessary.

Canon Canon 5D Mark IV, $, available at B&H
I always have my DSLR with me on tour, but some of my favorite photos come from much simpler cameras. I like bringing film cameras, some new some vintage, to mix up what I capture of the band.

Lomography Lomo Lubitel 166+ Camera, $, available at Lomography
I love to experiment with cameras on days when we have time to explore a new city. There's so much to see and be inspired by when I'm somewhere I've never been before and I never know when I'll want to pull out a camera and snap a few photos. All the more reason to bring something compact that fits in a small bag.

Polaroid Originals Polaroid Snap Touch Instant Digital Camera, $, available at Amazon
I don’t know where I would be without at least three pairs of headphones. I’ll have my editing headphones, my noise-canceling wireless earbuds, and then my Apple headphones as a backup because I am notoriously bad about draining the battery on my earbuds.

Beats Beats Studio3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones, $, available at Amazon
External hard drives are absolutely essential. High-resolution photos, HD behind-the-scenes video, and film scans take up a lot of space. I splurged and got extra memory when I bought my MacBook Pro, but I wouldn't go anywhere without at least one backup.

Toshiba Toshiba 2TB Portable External Hard Drive, $, available at Amazon

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