Tieing in my love of gigs with my love of travel.
I am a huge music fan. Pop music to be exact. With a particular love of all things boyband. And one of my favourite ever boybands, the Backstreet Boys, just happen to be an internationally known and loved group who tour across the World giving me the perfect excuse to tie together two of my passions at once – travel and concert going!
When I first began going to concerts, I’d never go further than my home town of Birmingham. We have 2 arenas and a multitude of smaller music venues so if an act is touring they’re more than likely going to pass through. But with some of my favourite pop acts, seeing them just once per tour doesn’t quite cut it for me so I started to venture further afield – popping down to London or up to Manchester for example and making a weekend break of it.
I first considered travelling further afield in 2005. Backstreet Boys were in London for some promotion and while waiting for them, I got talking to some other fans who had just come back from seeing them in Germany. With cheap short haul flights now being rolled out, they said it had worked out cheaper to do that than to travel within our country by rail.
So when a European tour was announced shortly after, as well as booking tickets for venues in Birmingham and London, we booked to go to Rotterdam to see the show too – cheap return flights and a budget hotel on the outskirts of the city but still within walking distance of the centre did indeed make this cheaper than the weekend we spent seeing them in London and getting to explore somewhere new made it all the more exciting.
For their next tour in 2008, we ventured to Germany where we city hopped seeing 3 gigs in 4 days in Stuttgart, Munich and Leipzig (I city I’d never even heard of before, never mind thought of visiting!).
We also had a fantastic weekend break in beautiful Zurich and spent the early May bank holiday weekend in Luxembourg City and Brussels.
Often, as in the case of Luxembourg, these were places we would never have thought to go to otherwise and we’d picked them purely because the flights were reasonably priced and, as I was full time teaching at the time, the dates fitted in with school being on a Saturday or in a school holiday.
In 2009, I used the tour dates as excuses to visit Lisbon and Madrid in October half term, in 2012, Dublin, Barcelona and Frankfurt and just last year, Prague.
Each time, we made sure that other than the concert, the trip was spent sightseeing and exploring whichever city we found ourselves in. Sometimes, like with Munich sandwiched on the middle day between Stuttgart and Leipzig, or the time we spent less than 24 hours in Oslo, we had very little time to see much but it gave us a feel for the place and we could always go back and spend more time there – you can read about my return trip to Munich here.
At the end of 2008, I ventured the furthest I had been so far to see Backstreet Boys, the USA, spending just over 2 weeks visiting three cities – New York, Washington DC and Chicago – seeing them in concert at a venue near to each place we were visiting.
While the concerts were our reason for deciding to take the trip and the reason for choosing those particular cities, they were a very small part of the holiday and we had a great time in each city doing all the touristy things anyone else would do on a city break there.
We enjoyed that trip so much that we went back to the USA in 2010 visiting San Francisco, Boston and returning to New York. That time, we couldn’t get their US tour dates to suit our plans (although we did, by coincidence, get to see the Jonas Brothers play a small gig in New York!) so instead, we tacked on a few days in Canada to the end of our trip seeing them in concert in Toronto and Montreal. Again, 2 places we probably wouldn’t have made plans to go to otherwise but once there, we thoroughly enjoyed visiting!
I’ve been back to the USA to see the Backstreet Boys many times since, sometimes going there specifically for that reason, like when they did a Las Vegas residency in 2017.
Other times it has been pure coincidence that their tour dates coincided with a trip we already had planned – like when they announced a gig with country band Florida Georgia Line in Chicago, also in 2017, and it just happened to be on a date we were already going to be in that city.
Last year, we had a roadtrip along the Californian coast planned and were able to alter it ever so slightly to be in San Jose on the day Backstreet Boys played the SAP Center there and this year we should be seeing them on a roadtrip through the Pacific Northwest in Washington state although both the roadtrip and the concert is now more than likely to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The furthest I have been to see the band is Australia in 2015. One of my friends, who is also a big fan, moved to Melbourne a few years before. She had no one to go to their concert with and I had recently quit full time teaching at that point so when she half-jokingly suggested I go with her, I thought, ‘why not?’. As I had been to Melbourne a few times already to visit her, I justified the trip by making the concert and Melbourne part a very small part of a longer time spent travelling in the South Pacific, deciding to do a tour of New Zealand and spending a few days in Adelaide in one of the only Australian states I hadn’t visited, South Australia, before going to Melbourne for the gig.
Backstreet Boys are pretty much the only band I would travel the World to see although I did recently see the Jonas Brothers in Italy but only because my friend, who is also a fan, lives there and the concert happened to fall in the UK half term.
I saw Britney during her Vegas residency in 2015 but didn’t travel there specifically for that reason. I was on a small group tour across America at the time and she happened to be playing there the night we were in the city.
In 2018 I saw a Vengaboys gig in Dubai when, purely coincidentally, they announced they were playing not far from where we would be staying and I have travelled the length and breadth of the UK, including flying to Belfast, seeing my favourite British pop band, Steps.
It is always fun when a city break or my travelling plans can be tied in with a gig even if it is just a trip to London and I will continue to use my love of concerts as an excuse for travelling as soon as they are both up and running again!
Have you ever travelled somewhere exciting to see a gig? Let me know in the comments!