So you have your big summer tour all booked, your route is planned, and you and your band are itching to get on the road. While everything seems exciting and shiny now, after a couple weeks of being crammed in the same car with the same people you might start to go insane. Touring is tough, and while it is an adventure it can also be monotonous and boring at times.
There’s no way to prepare for everything, but here are some tips that might help your tour go smoothly and prevent you from losing your cool once things get a little rough.
You never be able to anticipate everything you’ll need on tour, however, I do have some tips. You’ll need more underwear and socks that you think you’ll need (don’t be afraid to wash them in the sink and let them dry overnight!). Make sure everything you need can fit into one bag and don’t be afraid to go to Walmart or Target if you need to get some extra basic t-shirts. I would recommend packing a pillow and maybe some bedding or a sleeping bag. You don’t know where you’ll be sleeping a lot of the time and taking that small step can make you much more comfortable.
Food can be one of the biggest sources of comfort on tour, but if you don’t plan it out right you will end up spending everything you’re making on meals. Also, if you don’t think about your meals, you’ll end up eating tons of bar food and gas station snacks which, after a few weeks, can mess up your stomach pretty bad. You can only eat so many jalapeño poppers before your body fully revolts.
Before tour you should get a cooler and fill it with some ice packs and homemade food that you know won’t go bad. Hummus is cheap and makes a great healthy snack that will keep for a couple weeks if you keep it in a cooler. Instead of going to a fast food place for dinner, you’ll often be able to get the same amount of food at a grocery store. Bring some knives, a cutting board, and some plastic bowls and you should be able to make sandwiches and salads pretty easily out of your trunk or bus. Even if you don’t do this all the time, having the option to make your own food will have you feeling good after you’ve eaten your 1000th Big Mac.
I’m sure you love your bandmates, but at a certain point everyone gets a little sick of each other. Download an audiobook off audible or listen to a podcast together with everyone. It can be a great way to kill time and it can be a fun bonding activity. During a tour we did, we bought an awful audiobook on CD at a gas station. I forget what it was about, but the person reading the audiobook had different voices for each of the characters and whenever he’d do his old woman voice we’d just die laughing.
I’d also recommend downloading some shows on your phone to watch if you need a break from everyone. Netflix and Amazon Prime both let their subscribers download shows and movies on their apps. It can be a great way to disappear and recharge for a bit without having to get out of the van and go for a walk.
Most of the time, you’ll probably get to your next location around two or three in the afternoon, giving you several hours to kill before you have to soundcheck. Look up unique things to do in the towns you’ll be in. Maybe there’s a cool restaurant that was featured on a cooking show you like, or maybe you can go hit up a vintage local music shop. Having stuff to do during the day can help stave off the ennui you’ll feel after rolling into the tenth town in a row that’s become indistinguishable from the last. It’ll help you remember your tour more and you’ll probably be able to find some dope stuff to post about on your social media.
Touring is both a gruelling and extremely rewarding experience. Most bands do a good job booking shows and planning their routes, but they fail to plan besides that. Taking the time to make sure you’re comfortable, well fed, and entertained will make sure that your band will get along and focus on playing great shows.