Theatre: 10 Ways to Maximize Your Per Diem on Tour

Theatre: 10 Ways to Maximize Your Per Diem on Tour

Touring is one of the best ways to make money in theater. Your per diem is nontaxed money in addition to your salary which you can use any way you want, which means you can bank the extra each week. Here are my tips for maximizing your per diem so you can add to your salary each week:


  1. Get a roommate

Hotels on tour are already pretty cheap with the group rate. But if you get a roommate and split the cost, the room is even cheaper and can save you $350 that week. If you’re not a fan of the double beds, consider getting a 2 bedroom in extended stay accommodations like a Residence Inn or the Oakwood in LA. The room rate might be more expensive but if you compare it to the studio rate, it might actually work out to be less and you’ll still have your privacy.

I stayed in a 2 bedroom/2 bath at the Oakwood in LA
  1. Stay in the Cheapest Option

Obviously, choosing the cheapest option is your best bet to save you money. If you’re on a Production Tiered tour and the options are around the same price, it might seem like either option is good EXCEPT when you consider the Housing Cap (which is paid out every 13 weeks). The cheapest option is this case will actually save you even MORE when you add in each night you stay there.

Aloft was the cheapest option in Durham & it was brand new!
  1. Shop Around

In some cities, tours have a hard time finding affordable options. So try AirBnb or even other hotels and you might find a great deal. AirBnb has so many options and if you really want to save money, considering sharing a room or getting your own room instead of the whole place to yourself. My friend paid off her mortgage by sharing rooms for $40/night.

I found a cheaper place in Seattle on
  1. Stay with Friends and Family

This is really the cheapest way to save money. Even if you have to travel 30 minutes, your rental car will still be cheaper than a whole week in a hotel.


  1. Always get your points

ALWAYS add your rewards points. Even if your hotel is paid for by the company. This will come in handy when you want to take your own trips or even if you want to redeem points for a closer hotel, etc. plus you’ll gain status very quick which means upgrades and free things like bottled water and snacks. Don’t forget to add your frequent flier miles to your flights too!


  1. Get a travel credit card

There are so many options when it comes to travel credit cards but the one thing that they have in common is extra points when you pay for hotels, flights and even gas stations. If you’re pretty loyal, a specific hotel or airline is a good bet otherwise the Amex Platinum or Chase Sapphire are good general travel cards and come with great perks as well.


  1. Go to the Grocery Store

Food is the #2 expense to your per diem. If you want to save money (and your waistline), consider taking a trip to the grocery store the first day you arrive in each city. You’ll save a lot of money if you can get creative with the microwave or even just for snacks. If you’re a big drinker, consider getting your booze here rather than the hotel bar. Trader Joe’s is one of my favorites as all locations are consistent and their frozen products are easy and delicious.

  1. Don’t go to the bar

This might be one of the hardest things to do on the road as theater people, especially stagehands. But how many times have you gone out and ordered rounds of shots for everyone and ended up with a $100 bill at the end of the night? You can be just as social grabbing your alcohol from the 7-11 and drink in the hotel lobby as you are at the bar and it will save you a lot of money.


  1. Don’t forget to budget!

I have been a huge culprit of being a little irresponsible with my cash and avoiding a budget but it can save you a lot if you keep a budget and watch where your money is going.


  1. Invest the rest

The best way to maximize your money is to invest it. If you have extra per diem, this is the perfect time to invest or even better, add to your retirement account. You’ll be grateful for it later.

Per Diem Pinterest graphic


Doggie Database

Doggie Database

Since Bruno has been to a lot of daycares and stayed in a lot of hotels in the US, I decided to create a database of doggie-related things in each city to help out fellow doggie travelers and will update as we keep venturing:

Albuquerque, NM


Fairfield Inn

Candlewood Suites


Appleton, WI


Radisson (this hotel doesn’t generally take pets but makes exceptions for tours)


Austin, TX


Drury Inn


Charlotte, NC


Candlewood Suites


Chicago, IL


Pooch Hotel – 2 locations in Chicago. Most Pooch Hotel locations are 24/7 but the West Loop location had standard hours for daycare last summer. Pick up and drop off also available.

Dog Park:

Park at Lakeshore East (dog park inside park, a bit hidden)



Along the lakefront

Lincoln Park


West Loop Vet – I LOVED this vet and if we lived in Chicago, this would be our go-to.


Cincinnati, OH


Dogtown Cincinnati (24 hours)


Denver, CO


Woof in Boots (drop-off and pick-up available)

Dog Parks:

Railyard Dog Park (small & large dog areas)


Woof in Boots


Curtis by Doubletree


Commons Park


Durham, NC


21C Museum Hotel – I LOVED this hotel. Check out my post here.


American Tobacco Campus


Indianapolis, IN


Candlewood Suites – there’s a great walking trail around a pond across from the hotel


Good Dog Hotel & Spa


Eagle Creek Park


Kansas City, MO

Dog Parks:

Penn Valley Off-Leash Park (small & large dog areas)


Hotel Phillips


Las Vegas, NV


Luxe Pet Hotels


Delano – read about our stay here.


Strip is dog friendly 5am-12pm


Los Angeles, CA


Pooch Hotel

Pet Store:



Minneapolis, MN


Marquette Hotel (Hilton)


New Orleans, LA


Blakemoore Bark


Q&C Hotel (Marriott)


New York City


Spot Canine Club

LIC Doghouse

Dog Parks:

Theodore Roosevelt Park


Central Park

Prospect Park


BluePearl Brooklyn

LIC Veterinary Center


Oklahoma City, OK


Mrs. Doolitte’s Pet Stay N Play


Wyndham Garden – request a room with a window outside, it sounds odd but most rooms have windows facing hallways/atrium


Omaha, NE


Downtown Hound


Downtown Hound



Great Walking Areas:

Old Market


Orlando, FL


Best Friends Pet Care (at Disney World) – you want to ask for Boarding with Play and Stay. Hours are 1 hour before & after parks open & close.


Home2 Suites


Portland, OR


Virginia Woof Dog Daycare (nonprofit that employs homeless youth)


Hilton Portland


Waterfront Park

Great Walking Areas:

Pearl District


Sacramento, CA


Grateful Dog Daycare


Holiday Inn Express


Salt Lake City, UT


Hyatt House

Residence Inn


San Diego, CA


Sofia Hotel


San Jose, CA


Pooch Hotel (24 hours!)


Zoom Room Campbell


Seattle, WA


Citydog! Club – one of my favorite daycares. There are windows into the play area so you can see how your dog is doing.


Zoom Room Seattle


Spokane, WA


Doubletree City Center – the doormen have treats!


St. Louis, MO


Residence Inn Downtown


Tempe, AZ


Graduate Hotel – pet friendly rooms are on the first floor with sliding door access to fenced in grassy area.


Tulsa, OK


Holiday Inn City Center

Why You Should Use Food Delivery Services on Your Next Trip

Why You Should Use Food Delivery Services on Your Next Trip

After over 2 years living in hotels, I’m now staying in an Airbnb in New York. It’s been awhile since I’ve had to consistently cook, so I started using Plated. I get 3 meals each week which feeds 2 and all I need is salt, pepper, olive oil and standard cooking supplies.  Which made me think how perfect a meal delivery service would be on the road – it’s perfect for an Airbnb or extended stay hotel.


Here’s some options:

Meal Delivery Service like Plated, Blue Apron, or HelloFresh

img_4246Plated: Available in all continental states. Minimum is 2 dinners for 2 people for $48.

Blue Apron: Available in all continental states. Minimum is 3 dinners for 3 people for $59.95.

HelloFresh: Available in all continental states. Minimum is 3 dinners for 2 people for $69.


I use Plated but the services all tend to be very similar in that you choose your meals ahead of time (rotating recipes every week), you get a delivery with all recipes in packaging that will keep your food cool even if you aren’t home.

Most programs also offer vegetarian options and will indicate if a recipe is gluten free so this could be helpful if you have trouble eating while traveling.

Plated literally sends me everything – little packets of flour, small containers of cooking wine, etc. so this is perfect because it doesn’t require you to buy a lot of ingredients. All I’ve needed to provide is olive oil and salt & pepper.

Ingredients with labels
Ingredients with labels

All plans also are easy to cancel or skip a week so it can fit your schedule and travels.



Instacart is a brilliant app that lets you order groceries and have them delivered to your home or hotel! It’s not available everywhere yet so you’ll have to check your zip but they do deliver in a lot of big cities.

You get a choice of stores ranging from Costco (no membership required!), Whole Foods, Petco, and local grocery stores. You shop in the app and delivery is available in as little as an hour.

This is a great option when staying at a hotel or Airbnb. I used to head to Whole Foods every Monday, grabbing an Uber and stocking up on snacks and frozen meals. Using the app saves you a ton of time and can save you tons of money.

Get free delivery with this code:


The Uber of food delivery. DoorDash has saved me in a few cities where GrubHub or Seamless weren’t available. It also opens up your delivery options, including McDonald’s and other fast food type places.

You place the order in the app, your DoorDasher picks it up and then brings it to you. So easy!


Liquor Delivery – Drizly and Minibar

And now we have alcohol delivery! Located in quite a few US cities (and a few in Canada!), you can order beer, wine and liquor AND in most places, it will arrive in 20-40 MINUTES. You will have to be home though to accept the delivery in case they need to check your ID.

In order to booze, you can also order mixers, ice and plastic cups. It really is the perfect app for throwing a party.

Favorite Bars in the US

Favorite Bars in the US

Carousel Bar 

Location: New Orleans, LA


Located inside the historic Monteleone Hotel is the Carousel Bar which features a real carousel and yes, it spins. No horses here, though. You’ll get your own bar stool and the rotation takes about 15 minutes so most likely you won’t get dizzy. The drinks are delicious too. I love the French 007 but the Pimm’s Cup is also refreshing.

French 007
French 007


Location: Memphis, TN

fullsizeoutput_28Flight is actually a restaurant but is one of the best ideas ever. Most people know of flights in terms of wine. This restaurant takes it to whole new level – everything is a flight. You can get a salad flight, a soup flight, and each entrée can be mixed and matched.

And yes, you can get wine flights.



Location: San Francisco, CA

If you live or ever go to San Francisco, you must head to this bar immediately. It is one of the coolest bars I’ve ever been to and the drinks will always be delicious because they are made specifically to your current mood or tastes.

Located down a little alley, head to the room on the left, called SRO. There are only a few seats at the bar so you may have to wait, and each drink takes some time, but trust me it’s worth it. Once you have the bartender’s attention, he will ask you a few questions then custom make a drink for you. The first time, my friend mentioned she had sushi for dinner and loved Manhattans so he made her a yuzu Manhattan.



Location: Chicago, IL

This is my absolute favorite gay bar, not only because they have Cosmos on tap and frozen drinks whirring, but because they have Musical Mondays. If you’re any kind of musical theater fan, you will love MM. They play clips all night and there’s plenty of sing along’s and Rocky Horror-type audience interactions. Even if you just go to watch, you’ll have a good time. Plus the frozen pineapple mai tais are DELICIOUS.


The Violet Hour

Location: Chicago, IL

img_3285This speakeasy-type bar serves up some very delicious cocktails. They use loves of unique flavors and are all about the bitters and egg whites. Their menu changes frequently but you can still ask for a former drink. The first time I got a Romeo & Juliet which was herbaceous and fell in love with it so I asked for it again the last time.


Three Dots and a Dash

Location: Chicago, IL

img_3312Another speakeasy-type bar in Chicago (hmm, I wonder why). This one is in the basement and is a Tiki bar paradise. The drink menu is fun and each drink comes in its own special glass (which you may purchase, and I did). Be careful though, the drinks can be potent! I fell in love with the Surf Report, complete with salty foamy goodness.

Top 5 US Aquariums – Ranked

Top 5 US Aquariums – Ranked

Early on in the tour, I found this Roadtrippers article on 5 of the best US Aquariums. . Add in a new obsession with taking photos at aquariums and I have visited all 5 and have lots of opinions…


  1. John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, IL

2016-06-29-15-59-44-2This aquarium was a big miss for me. It’s on the small side and I found the exhibits to be lacking. The penguins WERE very friendly and the Beluga whales were playing with a trainer which was adorable. BUT it was not great for photo taking (glare from other exhibits, few jellyfish, sorry! I’m obsessed)

$39.95 adult admission


  1. New England Aquarium in Boston, MA

enhance-3The best part about this aquarium is the large penguin exhibit at the beginning of the aquarium and then it ends there. Sure, there are many levels of fish and other things to look up but as I was going up the spiral walkway, all I could think about was how great the penguins were and how boring the rest of the aquarium was. The New England Aquarium DOES have an amazing program that rescues sea turtles as well as their resident turtle, Myrtle.

enhance-4$26.95 adult admission


  1. Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, CA

dsc_0577  Not only is the aquarium located in a cool city, it’s also in an old cannery building with gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean. The aquarium has many areas including an adorable sea otter exhibit. You can also head outside to the decks to view humpback whales in the ocean.

dsc_0587$49.95 adult admission


  1. National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD

I grew up in Maryland so I will admit that I’m biased about this one since I went many times growing up. But it is a fantastic aquarium and the National Aquarium just recently announced that it’s going to build the first dolphin sanctuary in North America:

The aquarium also has so many fantastic exhibits that just seem to go on and on. My favorite exhibit is their new-ish Australian immersive environment where you’re around tons of animals you’d only find there. The Tropical Rainforest is also a favorite where you get to experience the humidity, birds and frogs.

$39.95 adult admission


  1. Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, GA
Whale Sharks
Whale Sharks

This is hands down THE best aquarium I have ever been to.  It was originally the largest aquarium in the world but has been surpassed by Singapore. Their largest tank holds 10 million gallons of water with fish, stingrays and even WHALE SHARKS. Standing in front of that huge pane of glass that’s barely separating you from what appears to be the ocean is incredible. Other notable features include the Ocean Voyager exhibit tunnel and all the jellyfish (and props to all the other great photo taking opportunities).

georgia-aquariumAfter taking in the aquarium, head just outside and you are at Centennial Park, World of Coca-Cola and a great part of downtown Atlanta.

$36.95 + tax for adult admission

Newsies Tour Wrap-Up

Newsies Tour Wrap-Up

After over 2 years on the road, Newsies has played its final performance. It’s been a crazy ride, and although tough at many times, I look back with fond memories. Here’s my wrap up:

Total # of performances: 761 (with 15 previews)

Total # of Calls: 173

13402136_492068974322645_1357946411_nTotal # of Cities (including returns): 70

Total # of States: 34 + Washington, DC

Total # of Canadian Cities: 5

Total # of Baseball Stadiums Visited: 3 (Cubs, Red Sox, Houston Astros – twice in one week)

img_3272Total # of Aquariums Visited: 5 (Shedd, Monterey Bay, New England, Georgia, Sea Life Sydney – on vacation)

dsc_0586Total # of Visits to a Disney Theme Park: 3 (I had only been to Disney World once before)


Favorite City: Tie between San Francisco & New Orleans

Least Favorite City: Columbus, OH


1st City: Schenectady, NY

In Schenectady, NY
In Schenectady, NY

Last City: Austin, TX


Favorite Abode: Corporate apartment in Toronto, ON – right next to the theater with large terrace

Least Favorite Abode: Millennium Hotel in Nashville or ANY Extended Stay


Favorite Tourist Attraction: San Francisco Bay Bridge

2015-03-06-13-22-42Most Overrated: The Alamo


Most Memorable Meal: Meat & Potatoes in Pittsburgh (went 3x in one week) and Flight in Memphis

Food flight @ Flight
Food flight @ Flight

Collections: You Are Here mugs from Starbucks and photos of every Stage Door

Stage Door in Chicago
Stage Door in Chicago

Best Travel Day: Driving the Pacific Coast Highway from San Jose to Costa Mesa

dsc_0674Worst Travel Day: 12 hours on a bus through mountains and thunder storms from Nashville to Durham


Most Visited Airport: Detroit (6 times)

Most Visited State: California (6 cities + one return to LA)

Most Visited City: Chicago (2 engagements + 4 visits to my husband during Book of Mormon and Spongebob)


Best Newsies Moment: Tie between Calling the show for the 1st time in Chicago and Filming the show for release in movie theaters

(Calling the show means the Stage Manager calls all lighting, sound, automation cues, essentially anything that happens in a show is called by a SM first, so it’s a big deal. Chicago was where I got my start so it was very special)

img_3600Worst Newsies Moment: Loading in to our smallest venue in DC summer with broken A/C and down a Stage Manager…


Second Chances

Second Chances

A few weeks ago, Newsies played Durham, NC for the second time. I didn’t think much of the city on the first visit but developed an affinity for it this time. I’m so glad I gave it a second chance.

Durham reminded me of a mix of Brooklyn and Atlanta. It was industrial cool with non-chain stores and restaurants (not even a Starbucks downtown). Condos are going up everywhere and seems very livable. I envy all the workers at the American Tobacco Campus with their refurbished factory offices and parks for lunchtime.

Here’s some factors that can affect your first impression of a new city:


Where You’re Staying

The first time, we stayed at a hotel at driving distance with not much around it. I’d drive in to the downtown area for shows at the DPAC but didn’t venture much further than a few blocks. This time, I stayed at the 21C Museum Hotel just a few blocks from the theater.

Being close made a huge difference. It allowed me to go for morning walks, check out the Saturday morning farmer’s market, and really get a sense of the city. I loved being close to everything.


The Weather

If the weather stinks on your trip, there’s no way you’re going to be able to get out and see the city. The weather was so-so the first time and this time it was summer, so I was happy to be out and about. The American Tobacco Campus is a cool area with grass, tables and a man-made river which was an awesome place to hang out. If I came in the winter, I would be less likely to hang out there.


Lack of Planning

One of my favorite things to do is research. I love to check out what to do and where to eat ahead of time, even down to the closest Trader Joe’s or Starbucks. If you don’t plan, you won’t know about the cool things to do in a city or even if there’s something special going on. For example, I didn’t know about the Saturday Farmers Market the first go around. I’m so glad I went the second time. Bruno loved smelling all the stalls and especially the abundance of dogs and children. We had a great time checking it out but easily could’ve missed it if we hadn’t done our research this go around.


Have you ever given a city a second chance?

When the Weather Sucks on Your Trip

For awhile the weather was not the best for me – going from 120 degree days to 60 and rainy has made it a little difficult getting out and seeing the cities I’m in. Here’s some tips for when the weather is blah – whether it be the middle of winter and 0 degrees, raining or just way too hot.


Research the Weather Ahead of Time

Once your tickets are bought, there’s not much you can do BUT you can research the weather day by day AND by hour. Make a list of everything you want to do and if there’s a day that might be a little nicer, plan it then. Also, if it’s going to rain but not in the morning, then get your butt up at dawn and take a disco nap later when it’s raining. (BONUS: the touristy things will be less crowded that early anyways!)


Take Advantage of Indoor Activities

Check out museums, go to great restaurants or do a bar crawl. Find the tallest building and go to the top for great views of the city. (Pro-Tip: In Chicago, go to the bar at the top of the Hancock vs. the observation deck. The drinks might be a little pricey but you’ll still get the views AND you get a drink out of it).


Take a Hop On & Hop Off Tour Bus

Book one of those cheesy buses that will drive you around to all the tourist attractions. On those open air double decker buses you can choose to stay dry on the lower level or take a complimentary poncho and ride on top. You’ll still get to see everything but you can do so with minimal weather interaction.


Take Uber or Taxis to your Destination

If you’re still keen on sucking it up in the bad weather, take an Uber or a Taxi rather than walk to your destination. This is also a great time to ask a local tips on what to do (or what’s not worth your time).



If you’re on vacation, this is a fabulous time to do what you came to do – relax. Whether it be a spa day or simply hanging out in your hotel room with some room service, this is the perfect time to stay indoors and give yourself some R&R. In Tempe when temperatures soared past 100 degrees (and at that temp, “it’s a dry heat” does not work as an excuse), I took the time to check out the amazing Arizona spas AND hang out at the pool. So maybe I wasn’t getting out and about but I relaxed AND had some gorgeous desert views.


Suck It Up

Dress for the weather and get out there. In Vancouver it was misting a little so even though it was overcast and rainy, I managed to get out the rain coat and umbrella and still walk around a bit. The only time I would not suggest this is if it’s going to be dangerous to you. In 100+ temps in Tempe, I would NOT be doing anything outside.

What are some of your bad weather ideas?

How I Travel for Work

How I Travel for Work

In honor of Labor Day, I thought I’d explain how I labor day to day as it is kind of unique.

I am a Stage Manager on the touring production of Newsies. The show is a Broadway musical that travels the US and Canada – anywhere from one week to two months.


My Job

Describing a Stage Manager is really tough. I’m part of a team of 4 that essentially maintains the show. After opening, the Director goes away and the Production Stage Manager is tasked to maintain the Director’s vision which includes natural shifting of the show, as well as putting new people in. During the show, I’m either running a side of the stage – making sure everything happens at the right time, keeping my eye out for safety, and dealing with any situation that may arise. That could be anything from a missed cue or an injured dancer. I also call the show, which to an audience member means that anytime you see the set move or the lights change, that is all directed by a stage manager so that everything is happening at the right time, together, and on the music.

It’s an intense and busy job but incredibly rewarding.


The Tour

I travel with the show everywhere it goes. I receive a per diem which covers housing & meals. I’m given two hotel options which are group rates and much cheaper than if you booked online. I am also free to choose my own option by booking an AirBnb or staying with family. If the hotel is over a certain distance, I also receive a rental car.

Travel is paid for by the company. Depending on the distance between cities, we will either travel by plane or chartered bus. I have even rented a car between certain cities, like to drive the Pacific Coast Highway between San Jose and Costa Mesa, CA.

I am extremely lucky that not only do I have an amazing job, I also get to travel to places I love, places I’ve always wanted to go, and places I never thought I would go – and might surprise myself.


Do you have a job that allows you to travel?

A Perfect Day in Banff

A Perfect Day in Banff

Banff is an easy 90 minute drive from Calgary. So when I had a day off I knew I had to go up to one of the dreamiest places on Earth.


Banff National Park

The massive park includes the town of Banff as well as Lake Louise (as well as many other lakes we were unable to see in a day). You have to pay an entry fee to get into the park. It cost us $19.60 for a car of 4 people.



The town of Banff is adorable, although a bit touristy now. We had a hard time finding parking, even on a Monday afternoon. We walked around the town then up to the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel. Fairmont’s are very fancy and this was no exception.

Outside the Fairmont Hotel in Banff
Outside the Fairmont Hotel in Banff

After grabbing snacks from the coffee shop off the lobby (iced maple hazelnut latte and soft baked chocolate chip cookie for me) we headed outside to the patio where we had gorgeous views of lakes and mountains.


Lake Louise

After the midday snack, we headed back to the car and drove up to Lake Louise, which is an additional ½ hour. There is another Fairmont just off the lake, called the Chateau Lake Louise, which would be an amazing place to stay. The lake is absolutely stunning and the pictures do not do it justice. It is the coolest shade of blue and so peaceful, even with all the tourists.


If you have the time, I would definitely recommend waiting in the long line to rent a bright red canoe. We skipped this but I have seen many amazing pictures with the pop of the red next to the bright turquoise water.


Moraine Lake

DSC_0295We then headed up to Moraine Lake, which is an additional 20 minutes from Lake Louise. You see the sign to turn off on the way up to Lake Louise so it’s very easy to get to.


We arrived pretty late and were a bit disappointed after seeing Lake Louise but I have seen many gorgeous photos of Moraine Lake and I think the lighting/time of day just wasn’t right for us.


Dinner in Banff

There are so many great dining options in Banff. We opted for the Keg Steakhouse, which is actually a Canadian chain. We ate in the bar area and had all of the food. I got the sirloin with lobster, scallops, shrimp and crab with rice on the side and we shared Brussels sprouts at the table. We drank a delicious red blend wine from BC. We left incredibly stuffed.


It really was the perfect day. It’s an incredible place to visit and I can’t wait to go back and spend more time!