I’ve talked about traveling a bit here and here but I wanted to give a little more practical advice on how to get the most out of your trip (and your dollar) when you’re traveling for b-boy jams. Toyz of Lionz of Zion also wrote a similar blog post on More Than a Stance but his deals more with traveling abroad (I still recommend it). I’m going to focus on the more mundane 5-10 hour car trip that’s pretty common for most b-boys.
Pack light. These are the essentials:
A pillow and/or sleeping bag – just assume you’ll sleep on the floor, you probably will. Even if you’ve been told there’s space, there have been plenty of times where at the last minute I was told “Oh hey, it turns out 9 more people from Florida are going to be staying in my one bedroom apartment tonight.”
A towel – This was the best advice Douglas Adams ever gave. There will never, ever be enough towels. Also, can be used as a pillow if you’re riding with the DJ who can’t accommodate your damn body pillow in their sedan.
Deodorant – You know who you are.
Toothpaste + Toothbrush – see above.
Travel size Shampoo/body wash combo – see above above.
Gear – I understand you need multiple outfits. B-boys started the fashion thing in hip-hop so I know we all need to bring plenty of gear. My best advice is to choose one pair of shoes (since they take up the most space) and base all your outfits around that pair. If your car is nearly empty, go nuts. Bring all the huaraches and change between every round.
Try to get everything in one bag if at all possible. It means less in the car and less for you to keep an eye on.
Don’t forget your music. Find out what kind of radio is in the car you’ll be taking . If its a cassette deck, get a tape adaptor. Just a CD player or radio, get a radio transmitter that hooks up to a phone or iPod or bring a CD book. You will run out of conversation after the first 3 hours if you’ve traveled together before or, if your friends are anything like mine, they will fall asleep once you get out of the driveway. My group have always decided that the driver gets choice of what to listen to on the ride. They’re doing the work so they get that privilege. Also, just a quick tip, I’ve always preferred to listen to comedy CDs or podcasts on the road. To me, those always make time pass the quickest as opposed to CDs I’ve heard a thousand times.
Work out the gas situation beforehand. There’s a few ways you can do this. AAA has a gas calculator you can use to get a rough estimate of how much the trip will cost. Let everyone riding know the deal and you can either split it even or something my crew has done a few times is that whoever is using their car, doesn’t have to pay gas. It’s their car that’s getting the wear and tear added on and getting the mileage.
Speaking of AAA, it’s not a bad idea to become a member. You never know when the worst might happen so its always good to have a little insurance. If you don’t know the benefits, AAA can offer tire changes, bring gas to your car if it runs out, tow your car for free (varying amounts depending on membership), get you discounts at hotels, on gas or at different stores or it can get you a car rental if your car breaks down (with more expensive membership plans).
Try to eat healthy. We’re athletes. We put our body through a lot and we should be trying to provide ourselves the best fuel possible to compete or cypher at our best. I’d recommend preparing some healthy snacks/meals before you leave to eat on the road. Fruits, veggies, sandwiches, wraps, etc. the less perishable, the better unless you have room for a cooler. I know it’s just about impossible sometimes to do that so if you do have to live off “exit food” (gas stations and the big fast food chains), try to make healthy decisions; drink water instead of soda, smaller portions, grilled over fried, etc. There’s dozens of websites and apps dedicated to making healthier choices you can use for reference.
Or you can do what I do most of the time and eat the worst things on the menu and feel horrible shame for days after. Jalapeño poppers taste great when you put them in a Sourdough Jack from Jack in the Box and Qdoba has amazing queso dip. Speaking of food…
Don’t turn down food. If food is offered to you, don’t turn it down. This is probably more because I really like food than anything else but it can also be a massive ice breaker. I don’t care if it seems gross or it’s outside of the norm, you should still at least try it. The whole point of traveling is to see and do different things. You may never know when you’re going to get a chance to try the home-cooking of a b-boy’s family that’s letting you stay in their house or when you’ll be back in that city to try out their cool burger spot (let’s be honest, pho spot)
Where to Stay. Before you travel somewhere, check with the locals, if you know any, for a place to stay. Most b-boys are pretty accomadating and do what we can to help each other. If you need a hotel, check kayak.com. They seem to have the best deals on a consistent basis but of course there’s a million sites now that can compare hotel rates. If you’re checking in at the desk, you’ll end up having to pay a bit more so plan ahead.
Their house, their rules. Non-negotiable. Whatever rules are set for you where you stay…no smoking, drinking, being loud, etc. follow them. I’m a big believer in hospitality. If someone is housing you, go above and beyond to be the perfect houseguest. If you’re thinking about doing something you know the owner of the house might not be cool with, always ask first.
And this should go without saying but don’t steal shit. I’ve housed dozens of b-boys and dancers in my house and I once had almost my entire game collection stolen. This type of thing is devastating, not just because of the physical loss of property but because you realize you can’t trust people in your community. If you’re traveling in a group and someone steals something or mistreats your host’s property, say something either to them or to the host, this type of thing shouldn’t be tolerated even if its one of your boys. If they’re pulling shit like that, they probably shouldn’t be one of your boys.
Hang out. You’re in a city with people you may not meet again, I fail to see the point of just sitting around in a hotel room or keeping to yourself. Seems counter-intuitive to me. Networking is the most important tool a dancer, DJ, filmmaker, photographer or any other artist has at their disposal. I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve gotten simply from being personable and friendly with people in various cities. If you plan on traveling in the future or getting anywhere, be social. This world really is about who you know most of the time, so get to know people.
At the same time, if your host is doing something you’re not cool with (i.e. smoking, drinking, partying, playing Super Smash Brothers), don’t compromise your personal beliefs. And if you’re a host and you plan on doing any of that, check with your guests before you do it. I’m not making a judgement as to whether any of that is good or bad, it’s just plain courtesy.
The Bus. Bus travel sucks. Even when it’s good it still kind of sucks but it’s probably the easiest way (sometimes the only way) to get to a jam if you don’t have a car or even if you do. Luckily, today there’s more options than just greyhound like the extremely cheap Megabus or “Chinatown bus.” All the usual rules for travel apply but keep a close eye on your stuff and I always recommend traveling with someone. In general, bus travel is pretty safe but it never hurts to take all the measures you can to make sure you and your property are taken care of.
Rental vs your own car. If you’re traveling in a group, traveling a long way or if your car isn’t at it’s peak, it might not be a bad idea to look into a rental. It seems expensive but in the long run you may actually be saving money since you’re avoiding wear on your vehicle. If you get a van you can also bring more people, cutting down on costs. If you’re a AAA member you can get discounts.
Be safe. Before you leave on a long trip, get it checked out. Do an oil change, check the brakes, air in the tires, etc. Do not drive if you are tired. I remember years ago a van in Italy was in a car wreck and killed several b-boys while traveling for a jam. Depending on the year, your chances of dying in a car accident are between 1 in 4000 to 1 in 8000 according to asktheodds.com. We’re on the road a lot and the more you’re on the road, the less those odds are in your favor. Personally I’m traveling on roads for out of state events 10-20 hours a month, sometimes more in a busy month. I know plenty of people that do way more traveling than that, particularly vendors and competitors. It’s a scary statistic but its one that you should keep in mind when you’re on the road.
Stay alert, obey the laws and travel safe.