Whilst I was travelling to the latest gig I went to, it suddenly dawned on me exactly HOW MUCH I take with me when travelling for a gig. So, I thought I’d outline what’s in my bags and why. A couple of things I should say: 1. This is only what I take if I’m travelling and staying at someone’s house overnight for the gig, if I’m going out for the night and coming straight home I take way less. 2. This isn’t a “you must pack…” list, it’s simply what I take, obviously everyone would take different things to suit their needs.
The first thing to notice is the bags (plural!) part of what I just said. I have to take 3 bags with me for every gig I travel to and stay overnight as a standard, and that’s even with packing ridiculously light!
The first bag is a tote bag. This is probably the most important bag as it carries my wheelchair charger (which of course I only need if I’m travelling in my electric wheelchair). Yes, that’s right, my wheelchair charger gets its own personal bag all to itself! There is a chance my wheelchair would last the whole trip without being charged but I’m not about to risk getting stranded in a broken-down wheelchair on the way home from a gig.
Then there is my rucksack/backpack (depending what you want to call it) I would class this as my “real” gig bag as it contains 90% of the stuff I need when travelling. I take some pyjamas with me as the first thing, I likely won’t wear them, but I like to convince myself I’ll change out of my clothes once how from the show rather than just crashing in bed in my gig clothes. I also take clothes for the trip home the next day, this is again entirely because I like to convince myself (and everyone else) I’m an adult who doesn’t just crash in my gig clothes once home from the gig. If I’m travelling from parents’ house to London for a gig, like I was this summer, I’ll take my house key, so I can come and go as I please without interrupting anyone else’s schedule. Of course, I take my toothbrush because, well, dental hygiene, standard travel necessity to be honest. I also take a hoodie because when you leave a gig it’s usually like 11pm and cold, and let me tell you, when you have a condition that involves muscle spasticity, being cold is NOT a good idea. My phone charger is also key, so I can charge my phone before I leave whatever accommodation I’m staying in overnight and keep in contact with people while I’m out and about in case anything happens. This next item is a little blogger specific, but I always take my “blog book” and a pen so I can take notes for any venue access review while I’m travelling, for example, on the train home post gig. The final item is my blue Disabled Parking badge, if necessary. I’d only need this if I and the person I was going with had decided to drive to the venue or I was being dropped off by someone, which is rare.
Lastly, there’s my handbag. This is the bag I actually take to gigs due to bag size restrictions at venues. The first item in there will be will be my cardholder with my railcard and freedom pass in for travel (gotta get those disabled travel discounts!) The next important is my wallet for purchasing that all-important merch (I buy merch at almost all gigs, it’s sort of my must do thing). I also take my phone, purely for staying in contact with people as I don’t take any pictures or video at gigs (yes, I’m one of those “enjoy the moment without recording it” people, but that’s MY choice and you can of course do what you like). There is, of course, the all-important ticket that I also need to take. I also take the carer ticket or carer ticket confirmation. Now, why I say either carer ticket or confirmation is, depending on the venue, the carer coming with me will either have an actual ticket that arrives when mine does or I’ll receive a carer ticket confirmation from the venue which I then have to take with me on the night to pick up the carer ticket from the venue. Some venues also ask you to bring disability confirmation on the night, such as a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) letter. However, from my experience, venues that request that you bring this confirmation never actually look at it on the night. I would still suggest bringing it if the venue requests you do so though, because it’s likely the one time you don’t bring it is the one time they’ll ask to see it!
I hope this provides some insight into what I take with me when travelling for a gig as a wheelchair user!
Em (Invincible Woman on Wheels)