The blog post this week will be a little shorter-while you read it, I’ll be brushing snow aside and finishing up the packing on my beleaguered SUV to hit FL sometime before Saturday. I thought I’d write about some questions I’d received about doing road trips with fellow troupe members.

Road trips can be a real test of your human endurance physically and  emotionally. For introverts like me it can be quite an experience to spend 72+ hours in constant contact with other troupe members. I’ve been known to pay a little extra out of my own pocket to get my own room with my husband.  But the fact is, you have to be ready for intense personal contact over an extended time

What is it like traveling with a car full of performers?-it actually can be a lot of fun-you feed off one another’s energy, you know you can entertain and props just add to the fun. And the laughs are not limited to the appropriate time period and everyone is up for grabs with no age-appropriate limitations.  The flip side is that some folks can’t shut off and I won’t confirm or deny that more than one overtired comedian was threatened with bodily violence and a “tuck and roll stop” as a stop-gap.

What do you do while you are traveling?-we talk a lot and keep maps and phones handy. I can’t tell you how much cell phones and a GPS have changed how we travel  these days. But because of cell phones we have a prohibition that SOMEONE has to talk to the driver and keep an eye on the maps/lanes/traffic. It is definitely pilot and co-pilot because when someone is behind the wheel for 6+ hours, they need to focus on the road, their temper and their alertness. And we don’t rely on the GPS, we check AAA maps, google and will stop at least every six hours . I’d like to recommend an app I discovered that works with google maps –Waze. If nothing else, it’s fun to see who else is on the road.

Driver gets choice of music-and yeah, death metal isn’t the easiest to sleep through, but if it keeps the vehicle out of a ditch, so be it. We have found that audiobooks are NOT the best choice.  And after six hours, any topic is on the table is up for discussion. I was surprised one trip to discover who in the troupe (and subcontracted with the troupe) had piercings in unexpected places.

What do you do to keep from going crazy?-we swap drivers when we can, pee when we need to do so. We pack our own snacks on the way down and I think that contributes to the overall health of the troupe members. Road and faire food are not healthy.  On the way back we throw that out and do whatever it takes to get home. We should buy stock in energy drinks.

Is there hanky-panky?  My feeling is that if folks want to do that, fine. I trust them to be discreet adults and we try not to have it happen around younger members. For the most part it’s closer to a very tired coed sleepover. Indulging in anything that takes energy away from the performance is probably unwise.  I had a serious talk with the mother of a former member who was sixteen years old at the time, and after my description of what happens on trips made her laugh out loud at what old farts we really are, she felt much better.  I refer to it as less “band trip” and more “cattle drive,” because essentially we are marching like Spartans from point to point and we need to be a unit to make it all happen.

We have rules. One of the unwritten ones is “don’t be that guy” any behavior that your friends and family would throw you out of the car to stop-don’t bring it in with us either.

  • Liquid in/liquid out we try to time this to coincide with gas stops. Do not buy the Big Gulp, there will be consequences.
  • Interact! You MUST keep the driver awake. There are few things worse than driving through a segment we call “the nothing” with only you, white, flashing lines and every other seat is snoring.
  • Whining, everyone is allowed a bit, we are all tired, but when *everyone* is suffering and you won’t let it go, things get ugly in  a small, tight space.
  • No burritos, not on the way down, not on the way back-period.
  • Honor reasonable requests, if a passenger requests a small temperature change or windows or maybe an unscheduled stop to evacuate anything body-related if behooves one to do it.  One driver was unceremoniously pummeled with a half-melted coke bottle after refusing to turn down the heat in the back of a rental. This was followed by experiencing twenty minutes of sitting in the seat of the requester, followed by righteous mocking.

I won’t talk about room arrangements because inevitably, someone is unhappy. One member managed to get his own room on two trips, not purposely, because he was a serial snorer.  But we look forward to this, despite the chaos and it really separates those who respond well to pressure from those who do not.  That level of human intensity isn’t for everyone and in the early years of the troupe we used to have a lot of member drop-off after the experience.  I have quite the rhino-hide even if these trips key me up to new levels of anxiety.  My partner reassures me that although it stresses me, my “worst case scenario”  attitude has saved the day a few times.

And when we leave Thursday it won’t be any different-scrambling to pack early, trying to outrun a storm as we travel, unexpected car repair just before leaving and a piece of my costuming that we are pretty sure went visiting with the pixies.  But it will still be fun.