Since September 2014, I’ve been touring with Newsies throughout North America. Once the tour ends this October, it will have played 70 cities in 2 countries. So in the last 2 years I have seen and done a lot. Here’s some things I’ve learned:
- “Where are you from?” is a very complicated question
I am constantly asked this question from strangers and it often spawns many more. I don’t have a home anymore – all of my stuff is in a storage unit in Newark or odds and ends at my parents’ house in Maryland. I live in hotels and don’t exactly know when that will change. “Allover” gets the huh? response since it’s a fairly unique lifestyle. New York needs clarification on city or state and even down to which block in Manhattan. Now it’s Maryland – where I grew up and where I get the least amount of follow up questions.
- Stuff is just stuff
My husband and I both went on separate tours around the same time so there wasn’t much logic to keeping our expensive NYC apartment. We moved everything to storage and honestly, I’ve barely even thought about it. Some people get really attached to things. But you have to ask: do I really need this? When you live out of 2 suitcases, your priorities change and you constantly ask yourself whether you need something. I have certainly traveled silly things to then ask myself why and most of the time it gets donated.
- Long Distance Relationships Can Work
Adam and I got married and 3 months later the 2 of us (rather unexpectedly) went out on 2 different tours. It takes work to change how you communicate and coordinate schedules for visits. But it’s also made the time we have incredibly special.
- You could spend all your money OR you could save (a lot)
In addition to the career opportunities of going on separate tours, we also knew that this was a great way to save money. In New York we were POOR. Yes, we both worked on Broadway but unfortunately Associate Company Managers and even worse, Production Assistants don’t make a lot of money in a very expensive city. In addition to a salary on tour, you receive per diem which covers housing (in hotels with a group rate) and meals. It is entirely possible to live solely off your per diem (and pocket your salary) but also to even pocket some of the per diem. We did that for 2 years and now have a down payment for a house which I’m incredibly proud of. But there are definitely people I work with that talk about how they spend all their money and I just wonder how?! I’m sitting here with a ridiculous amount of money, we make a very good salary, AND I’ve still felt like I’ve been able to enjoy a nice lifestyle.
- Having a pet on tour is hard but is incredibly rewarding
I was pet-less when I started the tour but picked up an adorable stray Yorkie while on the tour. It’s definitely changed my life – getting up earlier, planning to come home between shows, planning daycare or dog walkers, not to mention when the dog gets sick. But having a companion to help me see the world and keep me company is amazing. I adore the bug and could not imagine life without him now.
(And you CAN travel with a cat – there are 2 cats on our tour!)
- Stay healthy
It is so easy to gain weight on tour. One – you’re eating out most of the time. But two – you’re in a new place and want to try all the new foods. I try to find that balance between working out and still enjoy everything. I’ve learned to eat right 90% of the time – and indulge every once in awhile when I know something is going to taste amazing or this is the only place I can get it.
- Life Stuff Still Has to Happen
It’s great that you can travel and feel like you’re on vacation all the time, but unfortunately life stuff still comes up. I’ve planned major dental surgery on my breaks from the tour, gotten sick in many a hotel room and foreign country, and unfortunately have to do laundry every 2 weeks. I try to plan as much as possible – figuring out where I’ll be in the the year and which my 3 (THREE!) dentists I’m going to see.
- Kitchens and laundry in unit are incredible luxuries
The magical kitchen. Bonus points for the Trader Joe’s a few blocks away!
Since I live in hotels for generally one week at a time, it’s very rare that I’ll get anything beyond a room and a bathroom. But when you come across that magical kitchen or even laundry in unit, it is fantastic.
- It’s OK not to be into a city
For every city, I tried to compile a “bucket list” of things to do, eat, etc. Some cities were harder than others and some I even just threw out the list because I wasn’t feeling it. If you’re traveling for a long period of time, this is OK. It’s easy to get fatigued or feel like you can’t see another museum or another ______. Those weeks were when I’d catch up on sleep and TV.
- There are homeless people everywhere
Having lived in New York and Chicago, I thought homelessness was only a big city problem. Turns out there are homeless people everywhere and it is a huge problem. One of 50-odd cities thus far, Greenville, SC is one of the only places I can recall not seeing homeless.
- Loyalty is key if you want to get ahead and rack up rewards
Staying at different hotel chains and flying every airline is not going to help you get any free trips. 10,000 points here and there won’t get you anything but 50,000 at one chain will. So choose your favorite airline & hotel – both of which will have lots of partners so you aren’t too limited – and try to stick with those most of the time.
- You attract more bees with honey
There are so many things that can go wrong with traveling. But I always try to keep my cool and be nice to everyone. I’ve always felt that you’ll get further by being nice to the hotel or airline agent than by being nasty and making demands. Wouldn’t you do the same if you were in their position?
- You can tell a lot about other people based on how they talk to strangers
When you’re on tour for 2 years with the same 60 people, you learn a lot about them. And one of the things I’ve learned is by watching them check in to a hotel or communicate with customer service. It says a lot about somebody when they’re immediately acting like a jerk to a complete stranger who is just trying to do their job.
- Traveling solo is awesome
Even though I am traveling with a big group on Newsies, I often like to go off on my own for sightseeing. It allows me to do what I want to do but also to talk to the locals and take in a new place without being distracted by another person.
- I am incredibly lucky
It is so easy to feel stressed or tired from the constant traveling. But when I look back, I realize I have seen so many cool things and had amazing opportunities working for Newsies and Disney. Most people don’t get to do all these things in their lifetime and I’ve gotten to do it all in the last 2 years. I will always cherish these memories.