Seven Habits to Avoid on Tour

Seven Habits to Avoid on Tour

Going on tour is all fun and games… right? Well maybe the first short tour that you did was, at the age of 18, but with more success touring can become quite intense. Bad habits can easily be formed if you are not careful and these can make you consider leaving the lifestyle altogether! Without further ado, here is a list of 7 bad habits to avoid while on tour…

7. Eating junk/fast food

Spending all those hours on the road can be hard on your system so a balanced diet is very important in order to stay in shape for the stage. The easiest option on tour is to eat out because you normally don’t have a kitchen to prepare proper food in. Try to plan your tour so that you can cook every few days and get all the necessary nutrients your body needs. Make sure to eat lots of fruits and vegetables and remain hydrated (this does not mean with beer!). A reminder to singers: remember that your body is your instrument so treat it well. All others, remember that there is a body in between your talent and your instrument 😉

“The plain ones are healthy, right?”


6. Driving with a coffee buzz

It’s a rookie mistake to get a large coffee to go and drink it in the tour van. You think to yourself, I’m driving so I need to stay alert and awake! This is true but remember that coffee is a diuretic and you’ll be needing to take frequent pee-pee breaks if you’ve consumed too much of that “magic bean juice”. An alternative method of staying alert and awake at the wheel is by making a “driver & co-pilot” schedule with your bandmates. If more than one band member has their driver’s permit (hopefully!) then you should alternate between driving and napping. The role of the co-pilot, the one who rides “shotgun” (sits next to the driver), is equally as important: this persons acts like a second pair of eyes for the road but also keeps the driver’s brain active with occasional conversation (and by controlling the stereo system) and regularly asking the driver how he/she is doing or if they need anything.

“What do you mean we have to stop?”


5. Too much time with bandmates

If you’ve ever been on tour with your band chances are that you’ve been at each other’s throats at least once. Spending so many hours in close proximity to your bandmates can be a great bonding experience but remember that musicians are often sensitive people who require space and “alone time“. The key word here is communication and there should be a mutual agreement made (before the tour begins) to respect each other’s personal space when needed. Otherwise things could get out of hand and fist fights may ensue (or worse: bands may be broken up)!

“Leave. Me. Alone!”


4. Not sleeping enough (burnout coming soon!)

“Sleep is for dead people”. Well, that’s a very rockstar attitude… or is it? Experienced touring musicians know all too well that sleeping is half of the touring experience. Life on the road is not like life at home. Touring life requires performing almost every night, lugging your heavy gear from the van to the venue, possibly partying or celebrating a great performance with fans, countless hours of driving, sometimes giving interviews and running on adrenaline. These are all exhausting activities so make sure to get extra hours of sleep either in the tour van or in the morning hours. Some musicians will actually sleep during any moment that they are not performing or driving and this is not such a bad idea.


3. Taking on too much work (alone)

Remember that touring requires teamwork and also that not everyone has the same initiative as you do.  For these reasons make sure to split up the tasks (officially, on paper) so that no one overworks and burns themselves out. If a band member is being lazy on tour make sure to talk to them. Again, communication is key here. Bad communication results in passive aggressiveness, frustration, outbursts, fights and kicking members out of the band 😉

“Get off your lazy ass!”


2. Expecting every venue to be the same

A very common mistake is to expect every stage, hall/room/venue and sound engineer to be exactly the same. Some can be as different as night and day, so it’s important to have sufficient sound check time and to ask A LOT of questions. Talk to the sound engineer before the sound check and be friendly to him/her, it’s up to them to make you sound good through the soundboard! Buy them a drink and have a chat, it will be worth your while 🙂


1. Not surrendering to “Tour Life”

Touring, especially if done for long stretches of time, can also be taxing on your psyche. Dark and negative thoughts can arise from seeing one city after another, meeting nice people and then having to let go of them, contemplating your purpose in life during those long drives and wondering what the future holds. Ask any touring musician and they will admit that touring has its dark moments of introspection. The trick here is to surrender your thoughts, emotions, time and energy to “tour life”, this means being present and enjoying the moment wherever you are and whoever you are with! Avoid constantly comparing and relating your touring life to your life back home or to the rest of your life, admit that they are separate things and you will surely have a more enjoyable time. Don’t forget to have fun!

Remember: Tour Life ≠ Ordinary Life

For more insight on touring check out this interview with Ace (Martin Ivor Kent) from the band Skunk Anansie and learn how touring and working as a roadie helped him in his career…

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Do you have any other tips for touring or bad habits to avoid? We’d love to read them in the comments below ?
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Joe has been singing since he can remember and started playing guitar when he was 10. He's been using it as a songwriting tool ever since. He is passionate about melody and harmony and admires musicians who create these in unique ways. Check out his alternative / indie projects Best of Feelings and Zef Raček.


    Don’t leave your junk in a van overnight unless guarded by a militia with dogs.

    > Thanks George, good point. Don’t leave your valuables in a van overnight unless you have a very secure van with an alarm. If possible bring your most valuable items to the place you are sleeping at. Better to be safe than sorry. //Joe

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