When they were on the “Use your illusion” tour, Guns ‘n’ roses spent 28 months on the road. U2’s 360° Tour lasted from June 2009 to July 2011. It must have been hard, but that’s what musicians do.
Money and album promotion are the two obvious reasons for going on tour. However, there are a lot of other benefits of “living on the road,” including personal growth, artistic exposure, connection with the audience, and fun experiences.
We cannot deny that the life of a musician on tour can be tremendously stressful. A study done by Help Musicians UK found that touring is an issue for more than 70% of musicians, and that more than 60% of them face mental health issues (such as depression) as a result.
So, if you are planning a tour anytime soon, here’s a guide for you.
Find the least exhausting route
At times, you can feel like the tour is eating up all of your energy and time, and you will not be mistaken. That’s why you need to demand the most economical route that will save you not only the time but also the money.
Where and when you’re going will also affect your choice of transport. For example, if you’re traveling from the US to Europe, you won’t have much choice other than a plane, but the options widen once you’re set to cover shorter distances.
Pack light and smart
Unless you are Freddie Mercury reincarnated, you probably won’t need 100 stage costumes for a couple of months of touring. Instead, get convenient carry on luggage with sufficient compartments, and pack a couple of your favorite outfits. You can, while being frugal, plan to buy a few things on the road (souvenir shirts, why not). This may not seem like a big deal, but smart packing is one of the basics of a stress-free tour.
During long tours, your body is exposed to numerous stressors. Not only is it flooded with excitement, but it also needs to adjust to different time zones and cuisines. Eating fast food doesn’t make things any better. Keep your mind and body prepared for such challenges with a balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Try to keep alcohol and caffeine on a minimum because they contribute to stress and anxiety.
Take every minute of sleep you can get
Lack of sleep is one of the biggest problems that musicians on tour encounter, and the effects of sleep deprivation can be devastating. You start experiencing brain fog and mood swings. This opens the door to anxiety and depression. Your immune system weakens, and you start having trouble concentrating.
All this could not only ruin your tour, but also have a permanent effect on your overall health. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep per night and one power nap (up to half an hour) a day.
Being on tour means that you will spend most of your time on a bus, van, or a plane, none of which provides you with enough possibility to move. Not only that, but you will often be deprived of natural light and fresh air. All of this can have a negative effect on your mood.
No matter what, you can always squeeze in 30 minutes or an hour of outdoor activity. Walk, jog, practice yoga in a park, or do whatever else gets you warmed up and moving. Look at this as an opportunity to get to know your destination.
Find some alone time
The “Use Your Illusion” tour we’ve mentioned above included a hundred or more people. The boys could rarely get some time for themselves, and they had “alone time” only as a band, not each member individually.
Needless to say, that is overwhelming and exhausting even for extroverts. If you’re not a solo artist and if you’re traveling with a crew, make an arrangement to ensure that everyone has a specific period of the day for themselves. Most importantly, don’t hesitate to voice your needs when you feel that you have to get out of the crowd.
Battle the post-performance depression
The troubles don’t end when you land home. In fact, many artists face the anti-climatic low when they need to adjust to “ordinary life” after the tour. There’s no more hustle and bustle, you’re faced with silence and calm, and you end up experiencing lingering sadness. Fight this sentiment by celebrating your success with the people who support you. Talk about it with a fellow musician. Don’t make yourself too busy, but don’t be isolated either. Take your time.
Touring is a source of many incredible stories to come. Don’t compromise them by adding a bitter feeling of anxiety and sadness to the mix.