Hitting the road can be one of the most amazing experiences in a musician's life. But that doesn't mean it's easy. In fact, whether you're in a van on a regional run or driving across the country with ten guys in a bus, touring takes its toll. But there are ways to keep yourself sane, all while getting everything you want out of the experience. Here are some of our thoughts on the subject.
Okay, this one sounds a little obvious, but sleep really is the easiest way to stay energized and healthy while you're on the road.
Some nights you'll be coming offstage at midnight or later. You've got to pack up, load out, and get to your next destination. While one other band member can (and probably should) hang with the driver on an overnight trip, the rest of the group can use this time for some much needed shut eye. Trade off on night duty.
Lucky enough to be staying in town before you hit the road in the morning? Sure, grab a beer with fans or the other band you're routed with. You are on tour, after all. Just remember: you're eventually going to have to wake up tomorrow and play another gig, so maybe head home before last call.
Eat Well and HYDRATE!
The road is a place where Wendy's spicy chicken sandwiches abound. You can tap booze from that tree over there. Oh, and salty, salty fries? Falling from the sky, my friend.
In all seriousness, the road is where your best habits go to die.
I know guys who have gained 15 pounds on one tour. Think how easy it is to do when you're sitting in a van all day and eating at drive-thrus. The cumulative effect of multiple tours? You don't want to know.
Grab some nuts. Have some WATER. Take a moment on your last show stop to hit the local grocery store and buy some real food. A particularly healthy drummer once told me that Whole Foods' national presence was the best thing ever to happened to him as a touring musician. (Sure, it can get pricey - but eating out adds up too.)
Just try not to look at the next few weeks as an extended vacation of happy-meals and you'll be fine.
When you inevitably do not follow all of my above advice (hey, I wouldn't either), have some tricks in your pocket to coax your body back to work. My personal favorite is Traditional Medicinals' Throat Coat Tea (or Yogi's Throat Comfort will also do you good). I swear, it's like adding another whole voice on top of your damaged one.
Some folks swear by a green juice or a smoothie, some by throat spray. A twenty minute nap between load in and set time can also work wonders. You'll come up with the best set of solutions for you.
Let Me Entertain You
Yes, yes. We know. You're the entertainment on the road. But who or what is going to entertain you while you're driving endless hours or waiting for load in? Tour is a great time to catch up on all the books you've been dying to read or the True Detective you've been itching to watch. Just don't forget to come prepared - it's a bummer to forget your kindle or realize your iPad doesn't have a cellular connection.
(At the risk of getting too business-y, downtime on the road can also be great for catching up with fans in your past or next cities, or for making videos of your adventures to post on social media.)
Take Time To Enjoy Each City
Going on the road truly is a singular experience. Few people will ever get to do what you're doing - driving from city to city and experiencing each place on the ground.
Between sleeping, eating well, traveling, and performing every night, you've got a lot on your plate. But it is so important to stop and take in each venue, each neighborhood, and each city on your route.
Rent a bike! Take a walk! Hit that grocery I mentioned earlier, or stop in a local coffee shop. If you're there during the day with time to kill, count yourself lucky and go soak it in.
By taking good care of yourself and performing your best work, you'll be as ready as possible to absorb it all.
Break a leg,
Jules & The Sparkplug Team