Band on the Run!
In between opening for Matt Maher and the trip to Mayalsia, was a 4-week tour where we had both Matt and Sam on the road with the family. Michael always loves to play with a band and this summer stretch was the perfect chance to try out the challenges of traveling together.
Nine people in the Airstream was never the ideal situation. We had talked about removing the dinette and building a bunk bed in that location. Ultimately, I pleaded to Michael. I thought that he should take the money that he would have spent on the bunks and use it for hotel rooms on travel days. If we wanted to travel with band members long-term, then we would have to upgrade to a bus or a second vehicle/RV of some sort. Right now, that was not in the budget. The guys were game for riding along in the van with the kids, so we scheduled the tour.
The tour started with opening for Matt Maher, which was awesome. From there, we went to much smaller, more rural concerts. "More rural" translates to a lot of driving in between. Since the guys did not have a bed in the Airstream, Michael booked as many dates as he could so that they could stay with host families.
We had some great hosts, some great concerts, and some great memories. Unfortunately, most of those were overshadowed by a lot of really long travel days. Our conclusion from the experience is this:
When the family is on the road and we have some days off, we find a campground, hide out, and have some time to ourselves. When the family and band members are on the road, no one ever gets a day off. The band members are either with host families, working, or with us. The family had more private time than the band members, but since the schedule was so demanding, it felt like we were always asking the kids to make a sacrifice instead of enjoying the time together.
Although it is always fun to play with a band and to have a full sound, I won't say that it was always justified. Often the concerts were small or the audience would have appreciated an acoustic version equally as well. It was hard to feel as though our sacrifices were appreciated.
To exasperate things, the kids got sick. We have been very lucky this year that we have managed to escape illnesses. There have been a couple of times that one or two kids have picked up a cold, a flu, or had allergy symptoms - but we have never had a bug go through the whole family. Until now.
Just a few weeks into the tour, everyone agreed that this model was not long-term sustainable. We looked forward to going back to a family-tour after the trip to Mayalsia.
So, what were the successes on the trip?
1 - We made it the whole 4 weeks without renting a campground. We found out that this was not hard given three circumstances. 1- we were able to have electric from our hosts. 2 -we changed locations every few days. It was easy to find a place to dump/fill water if we were already hitched up and on the road. 3 -we had a place to shower. If the guys were in a hotel, vacant rectory, or guest house it was not problem to borrow their shower as we were packing up the Airstream.
2 - The weather was great. After our experience in the north last October, we were anxious to reset our tour route to hit the northern states in the summer. We have had more than our share of 70 degree weather this year. We hit just a couple of hot days in Kansas. They had a nice waterpark, so it was all OK.
3 - The decision was unanimous. Traveling full-time together was just not a good fit. We did not leave the tour hating each other. Right now we are going back to the model that allows us to fly in the band members for larger rallies or conventions. We will look into other options like the family traveling for a few months and then the kids & I staying home while the guys all go our for a week or two. Possibly we could all travel together in shorter spurts or with different vehicles. Only time will tell.