5 Touring Clichés to Live By: Health and Travel for the DIY Musician
JULY 22, 20111 COMMENT AND 2 REACTIONS
Here are 5 bits of wisdom to follow on the road, even though you’re shaking your head saying “Yeah. Yeah. I know.”
1. Don’t drive long shifts- Not only are there safety risks involved when people get tired behind the wheel, but switching drivers more frequently is good for your physical and mental health too. Seriously. Drivers who do longer shifts are less likely to want to stop until their shift is over. That means everyone else is sitting in a cramped space, stagnant and stewing. Do two-hour shifts instead, then switch. That is long enough to make some distances, but short enough to let everyone out, stretch, and use the bathroom before it gets to the emergency phase. (This tip assumes you’re traveling with 2+ people. If you’re going it alone, you have less options. But I’d still recommend pulling over every 2 hours at least for a chance to rest the eyes, relax from the tension of the road, and stretch the legs.)
2. Exercise often- It’s easy to get carried along in the rushing tide of shows, partying, travel, interviews, in-stores, in-studios, etc. And let me guess. When you do have a free moment, you go record shopping or find the hippest restaurant in town, right? Try taking a long walk instead. Go for a run. If you’re staying in hotels, use the pool. Don’t just flop in bed and put the cable television on. Even if you only exercise every second or third day, you will feel MUCH better throughout the tour and you won’t return home with that “Oh boy, what did I do to my body” feeling.
3. Party in moderation- Some musicians treat touring like a vacation, and don’t get me wrong, there can be plenty to celebrate. But never forget that you’re also doing a job. Sometimes partying and networking is part of that job. But it doesn’t mean you have to get blitzed to the Nth degree every single night. I suggest you decide amongst the band before your evening begins exactly WHO is going to be the responsible one/s after the show. If it is a 4-member group, maybe two of you can indulge and two of you should refrain. It also helps to discuss ahead-of-time who is going to do the first couple shifts of driving the following day. That way you can plan accordingly. The early drivers should get a good night’s sleep. The rest can sleep off their hangovers in the van. Also, if there are members of your group who are sober, don’t just take it for granted that they always want to be the designated driver so the rest of you can misbehave every night. They may not mind always driving home from shows or parties, but if that is the case, make sure you acknowledge this, and that you show your appreciation in some way. Buy that person dinner once a week. Let them pick the music in the van more often. Do something so they don’t feel taken advantage of.
4. Spend time alone- Don’t get sick of each other! Well, maybe that is impossible. But at the very least, don’t get AS sick of each other. The best way to do this is to spend some quality time by yourself whenever you can. Explore a new city on foot. Eat at a different restaurant than everyone else. Read a book in the hotel lobby. You’ll inevitably be spending MOST of your time with your tour-mates anyway (in the van, loading in, sound-checking, performing, etc.), so don’t feel like you’re missing out if you want to break off from the pack and do something solo. It also might be a good idea to address this strategy before you go on tour so that everyone in the band is aware of your motivations. They’ll be less likely to take it personally when you say “Hey, I’m off. See you in 8 hours!”
5. Eat right- Sure, Taco Bell is the only place open at 3am. But maybe you shouldn’t even be eating at 3am! It is difficult to eat right when you’re on the road because you are not usually traveling with a full kitchen and refrigerator. But there are little steps you can take to make sure you’re not just stuffing fast food down your throat or hopping from burrito cart to taco stand (actually, I’m pretty sure I’d be at the burrito carts no matter what). Get a small cooler. Go to markets and grocery stores instead of Burger King. Buy fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, trail mix, vegetables and hummus, anything small and snack-like you can eat throughout the day and while traveling in the van. The more little meals of healthy stuff you have, the less likely you’ll be to gorge yourself at the first late-night sign of Taco Bell. Oh, and sugary-sweets like Reeses’ Peanut Butter Cups and KitKats (tasty as they are) do NOT count as healthy snacks.
I know how difficult it can be to live by these tips when you’re touring. I certainly don’t always follow my own advice. But the more you focus on them, the easier it will be to remember they’re priorities at least SOME of the time. And being conscious of making even a little step towards health is better than giving yourself wholly over to the easy-tide of touring vices. Here’s to small victories!
If you’d like to share your own touring tips, we’d love to hear ‘em. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
-Chris R. at CD Baby