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D. Yoder
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I've seen a lot of posts and videos, and read several books and articles about the nuts and bolts of doing a show on the street. That part I think I get.

What I'm not seeing is how to live on the road as in how to eat and sleep cheaply, how to keep clean without a daily shower, how to get from one city to the next or one pitch to another without a car, where to park a car if you do have one so that you aren't paying parking fees, etc.

Example:
Once or twice a year I go to Baltimore to busk in the area of Inner Harbor and at Fells Point. If I take public transporation, I usually stay at a Youth Hostel in North Baltimore and ride the free purple tourist buses to get around. At the hostel I have access to a kitchen, showers, a bed in a dorm room, and a locker. Since I'm only there a few days, the cash doesn't build up to a level that I can't manage. If I drive into town, I put the car in a parking garage and pay the fee. However, the cost of the Hostel and parking can easily eat up a good share of what I make in a day.

I'd enjoy hearing how the pros do it.
Lundonia
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I don't have any experience in this subject but this should be an interesting thread. Smile

There are a few hints in Mario Morris' pdf 'Street performing manual' such as to live in a motor home and get your food from the supermarket and not in the restaurants etc.

I think there will be only a few bits of solid advice here as we all accept different standards of living. The topic doesn't just apply to buskers but anybody who wants to live cheaply.
Personally (without any experience in budget travelling for busking) I think the main obstacle is to overcome the urge to get comfortable in a hotelroom or a restaurant, even just for one night or one meal. Make your personal plan, stick with your budget. Buy your groceries at a local supermarket and stay at the cheapest place possible - may it be a hostel or your own RV.
"Only two things are infinite; the universe and human stupidity - and i'm not sure about the former" - Albert Einstein
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jakeg
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Ahdn I akrked fairs, I would sleep in my car the first night. Do an early check in at a cheap motel the next day. Ask for a late checkout time. That would give me a shower every day and a bed every other night. If I knew some other person working the fair we might split a room.
Dick Oslund
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My late good friend, George Johnstone,returned from WWII and produced a flash act with his wife Betty. He used flowers that he had salvaged from the Blackstone (PERE). He was successful, but, the market for that type of act faded. George turned to doing a single comedy act. He was very successful. Based in Chicago, he flew to many club dates, He was seldom "at liberty". A few years before he retired, he was booked in a large city on the east coast. Somehow, a young magician managed to "sneak in" and caught George's act. He even got backstage to meet George. George, always the nice guy, made the kid welcome. In the course of a brief conversation, the young lad, asked George, "Where are you staying?" George replied, "Motel 6." The young fellow came back with, "I thought you big professionals would stay at the Holiday Inn." George smiled and said, "I'm here to MAKE MONEY, not spend it!"

I started working schools for the major Lyceum managers when a decent small town "Mom & Pop Motel" averaged $5.00/nite. When color TV "arrived" The price "jumped" to $7.00 or $8.00. Affordable. You could get a good breakfast for $2.00 to $3.00. Then in the fall of 1971, gas prices jumped from $.25/gallon to $.75/gallon. Motels and restaurants followed with increases.

In mid America, motels were closing because of competition from "chain" motels. School performers sign a contract for a year. Suddenly, they were driving extra miles to even find a motel.

Many of us bought motor homes. Usually we could park overnight on the school parking lot. Often,we were offered electric plug ins. A home cooked meal, not only helped the budget, it usually was more appetizing. And, it wasn't necessary to unload suit cases of clothes, plus the props every night. Granted that RFs are a major investment, and motor fuel is not cheap, but the convenience makes the investment worth it I used motor homes for about 40 years. I was very happy.

Can you make a good living "on the road"? Well, whenever I bought a car--or RV--I paid CASH for it.

I did not use confetti cannons or pyro effects in the program.(schools don't like programs that leave a mess to clean up) My "nut" per show was very little.

Touring schools is NOT busking(There's a check after each show) and there's no need to sleep on a park bench, or eat in a community soup kitchen, but you do need to make a budget and live within it.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
MagiCol
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Meals: Buying meals on the spot can easily burn through your money if you don't watch it. Eating is a balance between eating healthy and eating cheaply. Rolled oats is the cheapest breakfast cereal, being only about 1/3rd the cost of 'instant' cereals, but not the easiest to make and clean up afterwards.
On my day outings to busk, I always take a cut lunch from home [but I usually buy myself a McDonalds ice cream if handy, as a treat.
I eat my lunch at my pitch and that makes me available for a bit longer for people to come up for balloon models.

Some accommodation places here in New Zealand have a 'park over' place for vehicles at a minimal cost for you you sleep in your vehicle. No toilet/bathroom facilities provided though.
Freedom camping here in NZ the past 3 years or so has got tough at scenic locations. Two reasons - literally the **** that some people left behind before departing, and the camp ground owners complaining due to their reduction in potential campsite fees. Camp sites with an administrator on hand keeping an eye on things are probably the cheapest safe alternative to sleeping in a vehicle on the sides of a street or out in the country.
The presentation makes the magic.
gallagher
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I, with my Lady, travel and perform, only 'on the road'.
The benifits,..... a polished Show,..
the danger,.... a "ground" Show.

Traveling, we find it important, to create space.
As much quiet room, as possible.
Hotels, Motels, bording Houses,...coach-surfing never gave it to us,..and,.. toooo expensive.
Creating your own space, while traveling,..that's the Secret.

Another direction we went, is to travel slow.,
.....AND, avoid big jumps.
We learned to play smaller venues,....it cut the stress,...
And Saves on the tank.

We also force ourselves to move.
It doesn't matter how good a town is,.....two days is the max.
We have the feeling, the town stays "fresh".,...
maybe it's in our head,... but,...
It's nice coming back to a town,two years later,.. after they loved you once.

Cooking, and so, we do. in our Waggon,... but between Shows, I love the Café.
And, it think it helps a lot,..breeding with the locals.

I think, "the Travel" has to be part of "the Joy".
,...then the journey becomes pleasure.

parked under a tree, in Chenmitz,
fighting with an IPad,.... with 'Corrective Spelling",
gallagher
Eric Evans
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There are a number of things that have been mentioned here that are relevant to street performing in the 'states.

In the 'states there are a number of things to do to cut costs. The most essential is to invest in a mini-van. It provides shelter at night, a place to nap should that prove to be needed, and a place to store necessary provisions. I keep a cooler in the back, having removed the back seats provides me with a lot of space for a bedroll and storage room. The cooler I use operates off of the car battery keeping sandwich meats cool, cream for my coffee, hydrating drinks and beer to relax and decompress at night. If I use an amp, I can charge it at night on my way to a super WalMart.

WalMart is my home away from home. I can buy everything I need there while traveling, have a place to legally park at night, and a bathroom 24/7. Baby wipes are a requirement to stay clean between showers and finding a laundromat close by is required so that I can change my socks and underwear everyday. I do laundry every week on my day off which is usually Tuesday, sometimes Wednesday.

I'll generally rent a hotel room every third day so that I can get a shower and enjoy some mindless TV (see decompress above) after I've cleaned and organized my van.

As far as parking goes, if you're in a new area, talk to other performers for they'll often know where the free parking is located. I know several performers in Europe that have bikes so that they can remain parked in a good area while riding their bikes to get supplies.

Posted: Jan 1, 2014 4:14pm
Oh, two more things I neglected to qualify:

The reason I stipulated performing here in the 'states is because these days I have a completely different regimen in Europe. Gallagher lives there year round so my approach is different from his.

And the reason I said to buy a mini-van is because I'll often drive a thousand miles to get to a good pitch. The cost of gasoline would be prohibitive for an RV and I still have the space that I need to live out of my vehicle fairly comfortably. Another consideration is cost of repairs while on the road. I prefer Dodge Grand Caravans as they're rugged vehicles, the last one I had I put two hundred and sixty thousand miles on and would've put more but opted to try a slightly smaller Pontiac because it was lighter and got better gas mileage. I'm back in a Grand Caravan these days. I love them.

While on the subject, try to never let the gas level drop below half a tank as I've yet to replace the in-tank fuel pump. A repair that runs about $700. Found that out the hard way. And change the transmission fluid at sixty thousand miles as they are notorious for having transmission problems otherwise.
Dick Oslund
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I forgot to mention that MOST WAL MARTS WELCOME RV OVERNIGHT PARKING. Some don't! Local ordnances sometimes override Wal Mart. In some areas, RV Park owners have "lobbied" local governments. I pulled into a WalMart in Sheridan Wyoming in the late afternoon. I was jumping from an eastern tour (School Assembly Service) to a western tour (National School Assemblies). The perimeter of the lot was posted with "NO OVERNIGHT PARKING" (HOMEMADE) SIGNS. Yet, there were 3 or 4 Rv's parked along the perimeter of the lot. I knocked on an RV door and asked the occupant. He said I should go and ask the manager of WalMarts. The manager told me I wss welcome! He further said that local RV Park owners would put them up! The manager would tear them down. (WalMart feels that anyone that parks on their lots, will spend some money.) The RV park owners would put them back up! And, the WalMart Manager would tear them down, again!

The WalMart in Bull Head City, Arizona, in order to get a building permit, was required to agree to "No o'nite RV Parking". Many of the Orlando, FL (Disney Land!) WalMarts: DITTO!

FLYING "J" Truck Stops WELCOME RVs! Many have holding tank dump stations, and fresh water sources. All I've seen have propane. Many have small laundromats (for truck drivers) but often they can be used--ask! Ditto: showers, for a small fee. PLEASE, DON'T ABUSE THE PRIVILEGE!!! I've seen some RVers open their awnings and set up charcoal grills which take up space for other RVers. Also,buy your gasoline there,etc.

Most casinoes allow o'nite parking. Not in Biloxi MS!!! Biloxi DID, until some apparently disgruntled gambler, DUMPED HIS HOLDING TANKS ON THE LOT!

In Florida, the state now haa armed guards in their interstate highway rest areas. Ask the guards! They MAY say OK.

I drove into a North Carolina medium size town on HALLOWE'EN NIGHT. "Hallowe'en high schoolers were on the streets!!! I stopped at the Police Station, and asked if there was anywhere that I could park. (There was NO RV park locally). The desk sergeant said: "Park in the lot out in bsck, where the police park their personal cars!" (I never felt so protected!)

In general, act like a gentleman and you'll be so treated. I used RVs for 40 years, and always found a place to park. TED CARROTHERS (magic shop owner in Toledo OH. had a small parking lot next to his shop. After we got acquainted, he installed an electric outlet just for me! Ah! I miss those Brick & Mortars! Jay and Fran Marshall handed me the key to the "side door" when I first played the Chicago area in the '60s. I could run an extension cord under the garage door. Fran said that I was welcome to stay in the "CHARLIE MILLER SUITE". So,I did. It was the beginning of a wonderful relationship. Often I stayed over a weekend, so I would help behind the counter. In December, Fran would book me local club dates. Jay introduced me to Howard Schultz (the best agent I ever worked with!) Howard booked me on the BOZO SHOW many times.

I've gotten a little bit off the basic topic, I hope I've made the point: In general, you'll be treated like a gentleman, if you act like one!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
D. Yoder
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I'm impressed with the voices of experience that are providing helpful advice. Thank you!

It is exactly the kind of advice that I was hoping to receive when I started the thread.
MagiCol
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I'm reminded that back when touring bands used to play at various places and stay overnight, they would roster one person to sleep in the van to protect their expensive gear, and would back the van's back doors against a wall so they couldn't be easily opened to unload the gear from.
I've sometimes thought that a wheel-clamp used on one's own vehicle could immobilize it from being driven off.
The presentation makes the magic.
Dick Oslund
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Old roadie "trick">>When eating in a restaurant try to park under a light at night. Try to park where you can see your vehicle from your table in a restaurant (this "works" best in a "sit down grab joint" like McD's Wendys Burger King etc.

When I was using motels (before I bought an RV, I ALWAYS CARRIED THE PROPS INTO THE MOTEL.(Props traveled in ONE case) Clothes were in ONE suitcase. I carried two suits, one to wear and one for the next day. So, THE suitcase and THE suit "hanger bag" went in.

I also carried a "catalog" case containing a small electric coffee pot, coffee and tea, instant oat meal, (for those small towns where there was no morning restaurant!) --Yes!, I played some 'ONE HORSE TOWNS'! (IT DON'T TAKE BRAINS TO BE UNCOMFORTABLE!)

DON'T PAINT "WHITESTONE THE MAGICIAN" ON YOUR VAN OR CAR. Jeff Wawrzaszek had signs in the windows,on his first school tour. Before he hit the road, I bet him a milkshake that he would remove the signs before his first week. I won the milkshake. Moral: Don't advertise that you're "on the road".
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
ed rhodes
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I understand and agree with the "mini van" vs the "RV" thing, however.

There's a favorite book of mine, "Callahan's Key" by Spider Robinson. Short version, a group of people convert a team of school busses into motor homes and transport themselves from Long Island to Key West to open a bar and save the universe (in that order.)

While I know a full sized school bus would be impractical. I kinda thought it would be cool to get a "short bus" and try something like that.

Would probably eat a lot of diesel though.
"There's no time to lose," I heard her say.
"Catch your dreams before they slip away."
"Dying all the time, lose your dreams and you could lose your mind.
Ain't life unkind?"
Dynamike
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A car will not be easy. A full size van will not be as hard. Sleeping in the back of the van on the floor is less noticeable. Parking in a 24 hour lot where others vehicles go in and out will make it less difficult to be notice by any of the workers. Get free tickets to a exercise building to get free showers every morning. Keep a bag of soap and towels to a fast food restaurant with a locking bathroom door to wash up and change clothes. Clean clothes at night in a 24 hour laundromat. Wash up there too. Keep a canister of water in your vehicle, getting the water from public buildings.

If a homeless shelter is nearby, sleep, clean up and get free food from there. Busk in the day time when you leave the shelter. Come back to rest at night. If you have no vehicle, use the bus back and forth.

If the busking was low that day, do the 3 card monte if you can at the bus stop, and while riding the back of the bus.
Mr. Danny
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The Service guys that come in to work on our sawmill equiptment put No pest strips on the bottom of suitcases, they say it keeps the bedbugs out. Sounded like a good idea to me.
Dynamike
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Search for churches that give free meals.

Sleep in your vehicle at a hotel. A lot of hotels have a room of free meals for their guest. Check and see if you can squeeze in that room. It should be hard for the workers to remember all the guest. After eating the free meals and using the hotel's bathroom, get to work busking.
Mr. Danny
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Ok, Got to comment here. While doing Street Magic, have receved tips of: just fried Funnel Cake,
(the sugar made a mess on my table), fresh Egg Rolls (twice), and the left overs from a food vender across the Board Walk. AND one lolly pop, the little boy only had two, and he offered me one. Smile
gallagher
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These seems, to me, to be going thru the sausage-grinder of "Homeless,..hungery,.. wandering Wursts".
Folks, the Streets are the highest stage there is.
.., bar none.
As a Street Performer,.... YOU set the standards.

Your Castle. Your Cave. Your Wandering-wigwam-of-Wonder,... lays in your hands.
Go out there with confidence,... not fear.
Create the space you need.
,don't sell out to fear,... robbery, ect.
Performing and traveling, are intense,....... positively intense..
'On the Road' needn't be,.... "in the shadows".

Comfort comes from a combination of Direction, Space, and Time.

As I said, the Streets are the highest stage,
....one reason being,.. they're attainible for 'everyman'.
However, if you don't CLIMB the Stage,..
you will lay underneath it.

Take your time.
Give it the respect it deserves.
,..and the Streets will take you places.

a friend in time,
gallagher.
Dick Oslund
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Quote:
On 2014-01-07 22:18, Dynamike wrote:
A car will not be easy. A full size van will not be as hard. Sleeping in the back of the van on the floor is less noticeable. Parking in a 24 hour lot where others vehicles go in and out will make it less difficult to be notice by any of the workers. Get free tickets to a exercise building to get free showers every morning. Keep a bag of soap and towels to a fast food restaurant with a locking bathroom door to wash up and change clothes. Clean clothes at night in a 24 hour laundromat. Wash up there too. Keep a canister of water in your vehicle, getting the water from public buildings.

If a homeless shelter is nearby, sleep, clean up and get free food from there. Busk in the day time when you leave the shelter. Come back to rest at night. If you have no vehicle, use the bus back and forth.

If the busking was low that day, do the 3 card monte if you can at the bus stop, and while riding the back of the bus.

see last line above. I'm not sure that I would recommend TOSSING THE BROAD!!! --THAT, could get you 30 days FREE room & board in the COUNTY "CROSS BAR HOTEL"!!!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
ed rhodes
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Quote:
On 2014-01-07 22:18, Dynamike wrote:
A car will not be easy. A full size van will not be as hard. Sleeping in the back of the van on the floor is less noticeable. Parking in a 24 hour lot where others vehicles go in and out will make it less difficult to be notice by any of the workers. Get free tickets to a exercise building to get free showers every morning. Keep a bag of soap and towels to a fast food restaurant with a locking bathroom door to wash up and change clothes. Clean clothes at night in a 24 hour laundromat. Wash up there too. Keep a canister of water in your vehicle, getting the water from public buildings.

If a homeless shelter is nearby, sleep, clean up and get free food from there. Busk in the day time when you leave the shelter. Come back to rest at night. If you have no vehicle, use the bus back and forth.

If the busking was low that day, do the 3 card monte if you can at the bus stop, and while riding the back of the bus.

...get arrested for the three card monte. Your food and shelter problems will be solved for about 30 to 90 days.
Quote:
On 2014-01-07 22:39, Dynamike wrote:
Search for churches that give free meals.

Sleep in your vehicle at a hotel. A lot of hotels have a room of free meals for their guest. Check and see if you can squeeze in that room. It should be hard for the workers to remember all the guest. After eating the free meals and using the hotel's bathroom, get to work busking.

Good job. Now you're a leech, taking something that wasn't ment for you.
"There's no time to lose," I heard her say.
"Catch your dreams before they slip away."
"Dying all the time, lose your dreams and you could lose your mind.
Ain't life unkind?"
inhumaninferno
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Dick Oslund provides much good info on RV touring. I toured in my van then truck pulling a 30 ft travel trailer for a circus tour and then years touring schools. It was home on wheels and I was able, when touring schools, to get lower weekly rates at RV parks. Gas prices shot up and that really grew your nut-made proper routing even more important.

Eric Evans is a true road warrior out working the pitch. His method for what he does is spot on...should be memorized and heeded by touring buskers.

Sorry D-Mike, don't care for your ideas/methods. Would only follow some of that out of pure desperation. Fortunately, I've never been that down.

On the road: be smart, plan ahead, keep your dignity and blend in.
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