Memories of the Tour of the Universe are still fresh, but with feet back on the ground for two weeks, many DM pilgrims are starting to take stock in the aftermath of just how much money was spent! The memories are priceless, but that doesn’t mean our bank accounts didn’t feel it (or in some cases, will continue to feel it). Our friends and families wonder how we do it! I promise you, I have no mysterious benefactors I’m certainly not rich, and the only credit card I own (by choice) is a Target card. With a bit of savvy, affording travel for DM may not be as impossible as you think!
1. Save early. DM have a pattern, so plan ahead. They come around every 3-4 years. The end of the last tour ended in August of 2006, and this tour began in May of 2009 (2 years, 9 months – a bit ahead of schedule). It’s impossible to know when exactly they will be in your town again, but you can safely use three years as a ballpark figure. At the end of the last tour, I was bummed that school schedules and finances had kept me from traveling as much as I would have liked. I knew I wanted to travel to Germany and a few different cities across the US on the next tour, so I started saving then. If you want to travel on the next tour, start saving now.
2. Save often. Break down your monthly income versus expenses and see where you have wiggle room, if any. The best goal is to set aside whatever you can afford in a regular pattern. Personally, I put a bit of money in my savings account with each paycheck (twice monthly). If you have access to direct deposit, many employers will let you split checks over separate accounts. This could be a good option if you are concerned about remembering to do so. I know fans who have boxes and books they in which they put their money, which is especially helpful if you earn tips. Every time they have some leftover cash or tips after a long day, they stash them away in a safe place. My parents keep a five-gallon jug for spare change. The trick is to convince yourself that this money does not exist so you are not tempted to use it.
Don’t be dismayed if you can only put away a little bit of money here and there – every little bit counts! Even one trip to see Depeche Mode in one city/crowd you’ve always wanted to visit can be rewarding! I did this for Las Vegas in 2006 and will never regret it.
3. Be frugal. If you look at your expenses versus your income and wonder where your extra money is going after bills are paid, consider the following:
a) How often do you eat out? I know a lot of friends and colleagues who buy their lunches every day, and some who eat out for dinner quite a bit, too. At $7-10 a meal, this adds up fast – nearly $200 a month just for lunches alone! Even though it takes time and discipline, buying groceries and packing lunch/cooking dinner each night is much more cost effective (maybe $5 a meal, on average).
b) Do you have daily addictions? Morning runs to Starbucks and convenient vending machine sodas can pick away at your extra cash. In the new year, my company’s CEO realized he had been spending $200 a month on his morning coffees! He has to have his fix, so he brought a coffee pot to the office and buys his favorite flavor in bulk from the shop instead of going every day. I can’t imagine he spends more than $50 bucks on a few bags of grinds per month. That’s $150 that can go into savings – after three years, that would be $5,400 saved, just from coffee money.
c) Keep an eye on entertainment/impulse spending. Go out with your friends and have fun, by all means! But budget wisely – remember your long-term goals. See early bird matinees at the movies. Most theaters in Sacramento knock a few bucks off the normal matinee price for the first show of each day. Look for sales on CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray releases and compare prices before buying. Big box retailers are convenient, but are usually the most expensive unless you buy on release week. If you’re into video games, consider trading in the games you’ve finished in exchange for store credit to buy new games.
4. Plot your shows wisely. When thinking about where to travel, look at where you can go to get the most bang for your buck. Germany is a favorite of mine and Tara’s because you can see so many shows in a small area and the crowds are insane. Before the cancelations, we were scheduled for seven shows in ten days in June. Each city along the line was no more than 4 hours apart by train, with each train ride being $20-40, and there were two two-night stints in Dusseldorf and Leipzig. If you are a front-row addict like us, Europe is a great investment if you are willing to queue all day. If you compare the cost of North American 1st-3rd row broker tickets with the cost of flying to Europe and queuing, it’s sadly reasonable. However, if DM play Europe in the Winter and you must be within the first few rows, I might urge you to avoid it all together. It’s simply too cold to queue all day. In 2006, Tara came home with a 103F fever and one of the worst illnesses she’s ever experienced. Subsequently, some of those shows still go down as her worst gigs, ever. Queuing in the summer is difficult, too, with chilly breezes and rain or no shade from the sun, but not nearly as brutal cold rain and snow.
If you’re not wanting the stress of a queue, consider the North American West Coast/South West run. The shows in Southern California can run a bit more expensive, but you can bang out for or five gigs, easy, and in general the crowds have a great reputation. Traveling by plane between California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and/or Texas is not too bad if you purchase multi city tickets in one swoop. It only cost me $50 more to spend a night in Denver for Red Rocks while on my way to Dallas. I purchased all my tickets at the same time, entering Sacramento – Denver – Dallas in my search, rather than booking Sacramento – Denver and Denver – Dallas as separate trips. If you’re a front row addict, you might get lucky going for single tickets for the first 2-3 rows in a presale, depending on the area. It really is a game of chance, though, as you will contend with brokers and industry insiders for the choice seats.
5. Share and share alike. Depeche Mode fans are a friendly bunch – arrange to share rooms with friends to split hotel and cab costs. Or, plan on seeing shows in cities where you can also visit friends or family for a few days after the show. If you have a friend in Denver willing to loan you a couch, do it! If DM are playing in your city, offer to let your DM friends crash as well.
There are more factors than money that may make traveling difficult, such as family, school and limitations on paid time off. But I encourage anyone who has wanted to travel for DM to do so. Look at your situation and plan an adventure that works best for you (and your family) and most importantly, don’t put yourself in financial danger. Whether it’s two awesome nights in New York City or two weeks in Europe, with hard work, you can make it happen! 😀