Going on Tour: Tips for Surviving On the Road

A picture of a music concert with musicians on stage and fans downstage: Going On Tour

If you’re like most music artists, finally getting the chance to go on tour is a dream come true. It’s an exciting time for you and your band as you plan to hit the road, explore new places and play in front of hundreds of fans as you feel the energy from the thrilled crowds. While going on tour is fun, it also comes with a host of challenges. It remains imperative that you are well prepared for your adventures. The idea is to ensure you have crazy fun, make significant career milestones, and still come out alive, happy, and eager for your next tour.

So, how do you prep your band for your musical tour? How do you prepare for unexpected hurdles? Well, when it comes to touring, there’s nothing like being over-prepared. First things first, create your tour itinerary. You want to know on what dates you will play, how long you’ll be on the road, and what you need to achieve and when. Dive in for a more in-depth tour survival guide!

  • Introduction
  • Going On Tour? A Comprehensive Musical Tour Survival Guide
  • Conclusion

Going On Tour? A Comprehensive Musical Tour Survival Guide

Music touring allows you to step out of your usual zones, see the world, meet your fans and reach new audiences. While the idea is to enjoy a grand adventure, there’s more to going on tour than what meets the eye. It takes detailed planning for you and your band members to maintain decorum, stay healthy, and get back home in one piece.

Here are 12 solid music tour survival tips:

Prepare For the Tour Before You Hit the Road

There is so much planning that must take place before you hit the road. First, make sure you have a reliable tour car and schedule for a full mechanical inspection. Of course, gas up the van and be sure to include adequate gas money in your touring budget. It will also be essential to pack your equipment and personal items.

Other essential things to pack include:

  • Snacks and drinks
  • Bug sprays
  • Sleeping bags/ air mattresses
  • First aid kit
  • Basic tools, e.g., wire cutter, flashlight, new batteries, and screwdriver
  • Road map (a backup plan for your GPS)
  • Charging stations for your phones and tablets

Communicate 

A surefire tip for surviving your musical tour is to keep your communication lines open. First, discuss your tour expectations and decide precisely what, how, and when to achieve particular preset objectives. Additionally, plan for driver changes and rest stops to ensure you are all on the same page.

Also, brace yourself for disagreements that may crop up because of sharing tight quarters for days on end. Unfortunately, boredom often pushes people into the realm of practical jokes. It usually brightens the mood initially, but things could quickly go sour if members don’t maintain respect and healthy boundaries. The best way to avoid damaging interpersonal scenarios is to agree on maintaining respect and proper communication throughout the tour.

Bring Your “A” Game 

Playing your best is not always as easy as it may sound. After all, it can be a little disappointing to sing your heart out to a batch of drunken guys who seem more interested in their pool table game. All the same, hold your head high and play your music as you have never played it before. Bear in mind that this is the digital era, and somebody somewhere may be recording your performance on their phone. If a “crappy” live performance shows up on YouTube, you’ll be lucky to get a few gigs each year around your hometown.

Going On Tour; Maintain High Standards of Professionalism

When going on tour, you must understand that the gigs may be different from what you are used to in your hood. In this case, you and your band members will essentially be salesmen, showcasing what you have to offer to the world. As such, you cannot afford to underestimate the importance of maintaining high standards of professionalism at all times.

When you arrive at any venue, introduce yourselves and maintain a professional attitude when dealing with the staff. Shake hands with the venue’s sound engineer, know their name, and make them feel like part of your team. It is also nice to lend a hand setting up some of your equipment, just to ensure everything is perfect for your show. Most importantly, start and finish the show on time, get paid, and make your goodbye positively memorable.

Don’t Forget To Do an Idiot Check.

You’re on tour to make money! Consequently, the last thing you want is to make some significant losses along the way. A fool-proof way to avoid this risk is to have a designated band member handle idiot checks. Let your in-guy do the collection of finances on all venues and learn the ropes involved. He should also run idiot checks of all your equipment before you leave the venue. Most importantly, your in-guy must also do a final walk-through of your rooms before you leave any accommodation facility.

Going On Tour? Don’t Ignore Your Beauty Sleep.

Sleep is important. When going on tour, most bands tend to focus on business and forget the importance of beauty sleeps. Unfortunately, you may not make the most of your tour if you don’t get enough rest. Remember that tired people tend to be grumpy and with a bad attitude. While you may want to party all day and night, this is likely to be a bad idea.

Camping on different sites with your sleeping bags and air mattresses is not bad. However, it also makes sense to have a budget set for comfortable hotel accommodation. Make sure you carry your earplugs because you are likely to be sleeping during odd hours. The last thing you want is to crash in bed at 3.00 am only to be woken up an hour later by a noisy construction crew.

Make Safety a Priority

Essentially, nothing is as important as the safety of each member when going on tour. It remains imperative not just to sleep well but to have plenty of rest to maintain a sharp mind. Additionally, don’t let the driver go beyond their physical limit. It is okay to drive in turns when need be, just to keep safe. If anybody wants to play the hero and drive for more than 6 straight hours, don’t hesitate to request them to take a backbench. 

Stay Active and Maintain a Healthy Diet

In addition to ensuring your safety on the road, you must also mind your physical and psychological wellbeing. First, pay attention to what you eat and stick to your non-perishables as much as you can. It’s perfectly okay to be a little picky with venue food and stuff you can buy at truck stops. The last thing you want is to have an upset digestive system while on the road. Even if you are not a health nut, it’s always safer to stick to non-perishables and fresh fruits. The idea is to keep your body looking, sounding, and feeling its best, especially during live performances.

Secondly, be sure to grab any chance you can get to keep active. This will be a matter of fundamental importance, especially when traveling in a small van. Do a few stretches during your stop at the gas station and get down on at least five jumping jacks to keep your blood flowing.

Keep Your Current Fans Posted

Going on tour should do more than just help your band meet new audiences. Although expanding your fan base is a primary objective, don’t forget your existing fans. It remains essential to keep them posted about your tour. Take a few live videos of your events, take your fans around your hotel rooms, and tell them about your awkward adventures. A few Facebook and Twitter posts daily or a YouTube video from time to time can ensure you remain connected with your fans.

Going On Tour; Keep an Eye on Your Budget

Evidently, attending one paid gig after another is good for the soul. The majority of bands start their tour by sticking to the budget and end up going crazy somewhere along the way. Once you make your budget before hitting the road, it is always a good idea to stick to it. Don’t be tempted to ditch your camping tents and hop from one luxury hotel room to another if this is not indicated in your initial budget. For morale purposes, you need something to show once you get back home from your musical tour.

Appreciate the Journey

Lastly, you know about the benefits of living in the moment, right? Well, there is no better time to practice mindfulness than when going on tour with your bandmates. Enjoy the road and every significant moment you experience. Take deep breathes when you stop in new towns and visit local museums, parks, or lakes. Generally, you must do all it takes to have a fun and memorable experience.

Remain Artistically and Musically Inspired

You owe yourself the favor of using your great experiences to remain artistically and musically inspired. Generally, less than a quarter of your tour will involve playing your music. During those moments when you’re just hanging out, brainstorm about tour aspects that have inspired you artistically. You may even whip out some song lyrics or video ideas along the way! Make sure you keep your gadgets charged and close by. You never know when you will experience a light bulb moment, and you need to record your inspirations.

Have Fun!

Going on tour should be a whole new adventure for you and your band. So, enjoy yourself! Even though sticking to your main objectives is essential, create time to see new towns and sites.  Take selfies on awkward sites and even visit the local flea market to buy a few souvenirs. You also want to meet new people, create new networks and grow both personally and professionally. Ensuring that your tour is fun and exciting for everyone will help you building bonding experiences with your bandmates. Ultimately, your happiness will shine when you’re on stage. Also, don’t forget that great songs are often born from memorable experiences that remain ingrained in your soul—such as musical tours!

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Thomas Brownlees

Thomas Brownlees

Ever since I can remember, music has always been my passion.

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