Safety Tips for Tour Life
Updated: Sep 22, 2019
Why am I writing this post? Personal Experience...
#1 I was working alone on the merchandise truck in Schenectady, NY during an evening show of The Lion King. There was rarely anyone around where it was parked, just off the loading dock with very little light. A man came and stood at the end of the open truck, it was dark and he had a baseball cap creating a shadow over his face. He didn't say anything, he just stood there and watched me work for 30 seconds (which felt like an eternity). I got lucky that I was surrounded by box cutters and that he chose to walk away. I enlisted a theater security guard to watch out for me while I went to the truck from that night on.
#2 I experienced unwanted phone calls to my hotel room from a man who traveled with our touring company. In case you're wondering, I never told him which hotel I was in, let alone my room number, which made me even more uneasy. He would approach me pre-show while I was setting up the kiosks and on the truck- always boxing me in and making sure I gave him my full attention. He only did it when I was alone, never when a coworker was around. He ultimately left the company soon after this began, so I didn't have to pursue action against him.
Whether you are traveling with a family, have a permanent room mate or are on a solo journey, you deserve to feel relaxed and safe on the road. Here are some tips to help keep you safe as you explore during your travels!
Rubber Door Stopper
Fend off strangers (or Housekeeping) coming into your room while you are busy or asleep, slip one of these door stoppers under the exterior doors. For sliding doors, use a tension rod to lay in the tracks.
Physical Defense Tools
The obvious defense weapon, Pepper Spray, has been known and trusted by women and police officers (WOW that grouping; too much to unpack that right now) for years. Through the years, they have developed a slightly sleeker style than the one I sported in college #2010. Keychain safety alarms are also useful if you just need to scare someone away, or sound the alarm to alert someone to your location.
Some people take self defense classes or carry small brass knuckles on their walks in suspicious places. You do you. I just placed a large key between my fingers like I learned my from sorority sisters' safety presentation. (Woo, all you Delta Zeta's!)
Virtual Defense Tools
Even at home, it's important to protect your virtual data from getting into the hands of the wrong person. Before you go on tour, install antitheft software (like PREY) to prepare for the worst case scenario. Back up your phone and computer to the cloud as much as you are able. Do it at least once a week and you should be in a good place, or set it to do it at the same time everyday. Better safe than sorry!
Something as basic as regularly changing passwords and Two Step Authentication is a must. You'll be connecting to so many varieties of Wifi networks, sometimes even open networks. Trust nothing, trust no one. BEWARE USB CHARGING STATIONS! I know, it's super convenient, and often the only option. However, when you use your USB to charge your phone, your information can be collected. Portable chargers with universal compatibility are a much safer option.
Cash & Portable Safe
Even if you make the responsible decision to give your bank a list of your upcoming cities, you will still encounter notifications of potential fraud activity. Sorry! Carry cash at all times when traveling. If you'd prefer to keep it off your person, keep it with your passports and other important documents in a portable and fireproof safe.
Speaking of important documents, make digital and physical copies. Email copies to yourself, save a hard copy in your safe and send physical backups to trusted relatives.
Plan Ahead of Time
When selecting housing within walking distance of the theater, pull up google street view. Take a look to see if there are sidewalks, bike baths, and most importantly street lights. Imagine what these streets will look like at night, as that is when you'll be taking your tired ass home.
When parking, try to park in a spot directly by a light post. This will allow you to see into your car before getting in, even at night. If you are parked next to a car that seems sketchy (read: large van with sliding door and no windows, obviously designed for kidnappers/murderers) choose to get into the car on the passenger side. Before you leave the theater, get your items ready. Keys, phone, wallet: Check. I always kept my keys in the same small red zip pouch, in the same place in my tote bag in every single city. Keep things as consistent as possible so you can access what you need when you need it.
Tell Someone You Have A Safety Concern
Be sure to speak up! You'd be hard pressed to encounter a situation on the road where someone doesn't care that you feel unsafe. Between the hotel concierge, theater security, company members, Stage Managers and your Company Managers, you should be covered on resources.
People Who Need People (That's You, You Need People and People Need You)
I used the "share" button in the Uber app while I was taking a ride somewhere. I shared it with the coworker that always had her phone on her (shout out, Melanie Wallace!). Even if I was going to the grocery, she knew all the details. I still send her my updates even though we aren't on tour together, just to remind her that SHE CAN NEVER BE WIHOUT ME even if she is on the Hamilton tour. *insert sobbing*
As independent as tour folk are, you should feel free to utilize your network of familiar faces in each city. Develop a routine of saying Hello and Goodbye to two consistent people: The security guard at the theater and the Concierge at your hotel. If you don't have a concierge, just text someone when you get home.
Essentially, just communicate with someone in some way. I used to call my boyfriend on my walks home at night, which made us both feel better.
Do you have safety tips that you'd like to share? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org