Michael McMahon is a seasoned “road warrior,” having toured on multiple programs for our clients. What’s it like to live out of a suitcase? Michael was happy to share his tips and tricks for making it on the road.


Working on mobile tours for the last couple years at Switch has been quite the ride – literally and figuratively. It has kept me on the road for extended periods of time, allowing me to explore bustling cities across the United States and Canada. While some aspects of travel can be exhilarating, life as a “road warrior” can also wear you down. Aside from having to constantly move from place to place, there are schedules and budgets to follow – and let’s not forget project KPIs.

During my time on the road, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks for keeping cool, staying fresh and dealing with the grueling (yet satisfying) work that is touring.

Organization is Your New Best Friend

Life on the road can quickly get overwhelming. With each new week comes multiple events; and for each event, there are a variety of locations, contacts, physical assets, and details to remember. If you don’t prepare yourself, all the competing priorities you’re juggling can become an overwhelming source of stress. To deal with this, it’s a great idea to spend an hour or so every Sunday to prepare yourself for the week ahead. Using SMRT, Switch’s mobile reporting tool, I load all the information for each event into one place – venue and vendor contacts, any special situations I need to be aware of, location and load in info and asset lists. This helps me mentally prepare for my events and have one single place to reference for all necessary information. It’s also a great idea to physically organize – have your uniforms ready and make sure your vehicle is clean and clutter-free so you can quickly locate the assets you need and make loading in and out a breeze!

Stay Flexible, Stay Sane

While staying organized is key, organization alone isn’t enough to prevent hiccups. The thing about being on the road is that very rarely will an event go 100% as planned. Whether it is a flight being delayed, an important shipment getting lost during delivery, or an event contact having different information than you, the nature of this gig is that not everything can be fully planned in advance. So it’s essential to remain flexible.

Once I was in Ohio for an event, and we had just set up our entire footprint outside as planned. Suddenly security showed up and instructed us to take it down because we didn’t have the proper permission. Clearly this was a shock to us – and it was even a shock to our site contact! We had to be flexible. So we tore it down and set up a smaller footprint elsewhere. We were still able to have a successful event.

While on the road, be open to new ideas, and don’t let the stress of a minor mishap ruin your day. The most important thing is that you get your messaging across to your target audience, so don’t sweat the small stuff and just keep moving!

Take Care of Yourself

The long hours and constant travel quickly add up and wear you out ­– mentally and physically. Taking care of yourself is key to preventing burnout, so I had to learn how to maintain a focused mind and a healthy, energized body while living out of hotels and airports. It can be tempting to eat all of your meals out or just grab fast food during the day, but you don’t want that to be your full diet. While budget and location are the main priorities when booking hotels, try to find one with a fridge and microwave in the room so you can stop by a grocery store and stock up on some more nutritious fare. I also try to look for hotels with a fitness center – even just a few short runs on the treadmill each week are great to stay in shape and help clear your mind. It’s also crucial to get as much sleep as you can; a full eight hours a night probably won’t happen, but remembering to turn the tube off at a reasonable hour will help you get as much shut eye as you can.

Have a Little Fun!

While touring is definitely tough work, you have to take advantage of the awesome aspects of the job. I’ve been able to see so many places that I never would have in my personal life. When you have some free time, check out a cool restaurant or hidden attraction. Local contacts you’ve meet through work are always a great source of recommendations, and never forget to hit up those long lost friends who have scattered across the country. I’ve had the pleasure of hiking in Idaho (amazing Instagram opportunities there), trying poutine in Montreal, catching up with old high school friends in Los Angeles and working on my color on the beautiful beaches of Florida. Playing tourist, even for a day, will strip away any homesick feelings and help you realize you have a pretty decent gig!

Not everyone is cut out for life on the road. It can get lonely living out of a suitcase and having no real permanent residence. But for those of use who live to travel, the role of a Road Warrior is an opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up.

You can reach Michael at MichaelM@TheSwitch.us.