For Those About to Rock: How to Avoid Chronic Exhaustion on Long Tours

Being a touring musician almost sounds like partying for a living, which is too good to be true. The musicians who are regularly on tours will tell you that it can be difficult to juggle working, having fun, and taking care of yourself.

There are many physical and mental challenges of being away from home and living most of your life at night. Furthermore, performers spend a huge part of their time in a car, plane, or bus, which can cause back pain and fatigue. This doesn’t only affect artists who are forced to ride a bus or who don’t have five-star accommodation and a personal chef. In 2010 Lady Gaga canceled several shows, and she was admitted to hospital with exhaustion and dehydration.

So, how can you avoid chronic exhaustion while still enjoying all the perks of “living on the road?” Read on for our top suggestions.

Try to maintain a healthy diet

Maintaining a balanced diet while you’re on the road is one of the most demanding things, especially if you are traveling with a limited budget. If you have managed to squeeze in a meal and drink in your arrangement, don’t expect the promoter to give you much more than a beer and a burger. Also, if you are on a schedule, it’s difficult to sit down in a restaurant and eat something healthy.

Here are a few hints to help you maintain a healthy diet:

  • Bring a cooler and stock up on things like fruits, vegetables, hummus, smoothies, yogurt, etc.
  • Plan your breaks so you can stop at the places where you can get a healthy meal.
  • Have as much protein as you can to fill your body with energy and keep you full for a longer time. Some suggestions include eggs, peanut butter, chickpeas, and lean meat.
  • Drink a lot of water and keep the booze on the minimum.

Get some sleep

Regardless of the level of success and the money in your pocket, sleeping on tour is very hard. The crazy travel schedule and the late-night gigs are not the only factors keeping you awake. There’s also the lingering after-performance adrenaline that makes your heart beat like crazy when you’re trying to power down.

The average amount of sleep you need depends on your age, but it is generally recommended to have at least seven hours of rest. Different musicians utilize different techniques for getting their shuteye. For example, DJ Marauder uses noise-canceling headphones to block ambient sounds on the bus. You might find reading a book before going to bed useful. You can also do deep breathing exercises or enjoy some soothing tea.

Get some exercise

Sitting on a bus can be exhausting and, after some time, painful. Exercising will help you stay in shape while on the road, get the blood flowing, and feel more energized. If you have a gym at your accommodation or nearby, try starting your day with a training session. You can also do some cardio in your hotel room or take a walk. Anything that gets you moving – just make sure it is an activity you enjoy.

San Diego rapper Kiyoshi Shelton says the lifestyle of traveling, eating fast food, and other poor habits has taken a toll on his physical appearance, which is why he dances for cardio and does yoga for peace of mind.

Find time for yourself

If you are traveling with a group of people, your head will be filled with noise and you will constantly feel the need to adapt to their behaviors and the social circumstances, regardless of how great friends you are. Add to that the constant thinking of the show and your performance, and you will come out with a lot of stress.

Taking some time alone to recollect your thoughts doesn’t make you selfish or unadaptable. On the contrary, moments of self-reflection are crucial for staying focused. So, make a deal with your “tourmates” for all of you to have at least an hour a day of alone time. You can spend it however you like – by napping, playing video games, reading, walking around the city, or whatever else you may choose to do.

Also, try to maintain contact with your folks back at home. Managing family ties, friendships, and relationships while on tour is difficult, but it is vital to your mental health.

Avoid vocal exhaustion and ear problems

If you are a singer, your voice is your instrument – your most valuable tool. The very fact that you are performing a couple of days a week can take its toll on your voice, and you shouldn’t make it worse by smoking, drinking alcohol, talking loud for a long time (e.g., chatting with a DJ at a party), or singing with a high larynx.

Furthermore, loud music can cause hearing problems, which can be particularly hard on drummers. It’s recommended to wear earplugs whenever you can. This can interfere with the frequencies, but at least you’ll save your hearing, long term.

Final word

Touring is amazing. It allows you to do what you love in front of an audience and see the world while you’re doing it. However, it doesn’t come without its risks. It’s impossible to maintain an impeccably healthy lifestyle while on the road, but you can do your best to survive this with as few bruises as possible.