Recently I resumed touring as a DJ, with stops in NYC and Philadelphia, and decided to jot down a few tips that can help you as you navigate your gigs on the road. I’m hoping most of you DJs out there know to bring your laptop, USBs, some clothes, and a toothbrush, so here are some other tips to make your adventure a little smoother and more memorable. Have a safe flight!
Backpack & Carry On Bag
When you’re trying to zip through the airport quickly from checkpoint to gate, a good backpack and carry-on are critical to your success. I recommend something like the Away Carry-On and Backpack because of a few features. The Carry-On is a hard shell that protects extra valuables such as a small DJ or midi controller, hard drives, or a backup laptop. It can also easily carry two pairs of sneakers. The backpack works in tandem and has a separate compartment for computers (perfect for removal at security) and a small hidden passport/wallet pocket. The bag also has a sleeve that attaches to the carry-on handle, allowing the bag to rest on top. Whether using the Away combination or any other DJ bags and carry-ons, just make sure they will fit on all airlines and avoid checking a bag at all costs.
Whether prepping for a set, listening to music to drown out flight noise, or watching the latest movie, noise-canceling headphones are your best friend when trying to maintain your own environment when flying. There are several different manufacturers of over-the-ear headphones, such as Bose and Master & Dynamic, and some in-ear-earphones that offer a noise-canceling feature from Bose and Apple. Either way, you’ll notice a tremendous difference in sound quality when traveling without flight noise in the background.
A neck pillow is an absolute must for me when traveling. I frequently make the LA to NYC trip and having forgotten a neck pillow once, it is now the first thing I pack and the final item that I check for before leaving my house. Especially as a DJ, the last issues you want are neck and back issues while trying to spin your set, and a neck pillow can almost certainly provide a smoother ride. Not all neck pillows are created equally. I suggest one made of memory foam, and there are even deluxe versions that attach to the seat for more comfort and stability.
Although most planes come equipped with outlets & USB ports – a power bank (even one with an AC outlet) can come in handy when waiting in airports or if something is wrong with the outlet at your seat. In addition, always having your phone, computer, and any other electronic devices charged up can provide more comfortable travel.
TSA Pre-Check Or CLEAR
I cannot stress both of these features enough. TSA pre-check is a must for DJs because at most airports, having pre-check allows you to keep your laptop in your bag and your shoes on during the security screening process. There are usually also separate lines for TSA that are much shorter. It’s $85/5 years for pre-check and worth every dollar.
If you want an even more expedited screening process, sign up for CLEAR, which is $200/year that allows you to check-in using your thumbprint and eyes. Once complete, you are escorted to the front of the security line (perfect for those DJs who tend to run a little late for their flights).
I typically never carry cash unless I’m traveling. However, I’ve had a few instances where there’s been fraud on one of my credit cards or a misplaced wallet, and having cash allowed me to grab last-minute transportation or place a phone call for much-needed help.
Many of us travel alone and don’t bring entire management teams or photographers & videographers with us on our travel dates, but that doesn’t mean we cannot get excellent content. Document as much of your travel gigs as you can to really capture memories and moments that not too many of us are fortunate to have.
A decent-sized water bottle like the TAKEYA 16oz is also a good thing to travel with just in case you need water for flight delays, any outings while traveling, working out, etc.
Because we will be living in a COVID/POST-COVID era for quite some time, having the essential PPE, especially when traveling, is critical to working in this climate. Initially, I figured most people know to bring a mask because you need one to travel – but I urge you to carry extra masks because you never know your mask could get drenched in red bull or soaked in beer….hypothetically.
A tablet to me is essential because most flights offer in-flight entertainment and wifi, and a tablet gives the ability to access all these features while leaving your laptop stashed during the flight. Also, a tablet is essential if you want quick access to emails, games, social media apps, and anything else to help with boredom during the flight. Furthermore, the tablet is excellent for staying in hotels that don’t carry your favorite channels or specific programming; you can still utilize Hulu, Youtube TV, and other major streaming services.
There are a bunch of items unique to each DJ or trip but I wanted to highlight some of the main items that most of us can use while traveling! Leave me a comment about your must-have travel item.
About the Writer
TK MAC is a touring DJ, fitness guru, artistic content creator, marketing aficionado, and innovative entrepreneur currently residing in Los Angeles. TK travels coast to coast from LA to NYC and Philly for DJ gigs. He thrives on keeping busy, keeping fit, and staying sharp.