If you’ve ever had a layover or a cancelled or delayed flight, you know how tiring and stressful traveling can be. Imagine how this must be for a traveling artist, for whom experiences like these are quite common. Traveling the world for gigs and festivals seems awesome to most, but it is not always so. Some artists have seen their career trajectory shoot straight up vertically, going from producing music in their bedroom to major superstars seemingly overnight. Recently we have seen our industry tackle the important issues of mental health and well-being, especially with the passing of Avicii and artists such as Benga speaking up about the strains of touring and battles with depression.
So, how can you ensure you take care of your mental and physical health while on the road?
Plan Your Travel Schedule Well
Nothing is more important than staying healthy and active, especially while on tour or traveling. The first part of any tour is planning the itinerary. You want to make sure your manager/agent allows enough time for you to get an adequate amount of sleep before you catch your flight after your gig. Let them know whether you need 6 hours or 8 hours of sleep and if your gig ends at 4am then see if the flight can be booked for the afternoon instead of early in the morning. If this isn’t an option, then make sure you can get to the hotel and at least take a nap before heading to the gig.
This might be stating the obvious, but you also want to make sure you have plenty of time to catch your flight. Make sure traffic is accounted for and consider public transit options that often are quicker and more efficient in some parts of the world. Don’t always think that an Uber, taxi service, or limo is the quickest option to get to the airport and don’t be afraid to ask the promoter for suggestions either.
Agents and managers are extremely busy and are juggling many things at once with multiple tours to arrange for multiple artists, so often the last thing to get worked on ends up being travel and transportation logistics. Some agents use travel agencies but some also work directly with the promoters to arrange everything themselves. Don’t be afraid to speak directly to the promoter yourself and ask for suggestions for transportation. Trying to get to the airport or catch a flight can be very stressful if you are rushing to get there, especially with little to no sleep!
Always stay hydrated and carry a reusable water bottle. Of course there will be water available at the event but the airport isn’t always in close proximity to your hotel or the club and not every Uber driver or taxi is going to have water available for you. This is especially important in the summer months and in hot climate areas. There have been heat waves all over the world lately, so don’t underestimate your need for water.
You might think that Canada isn’t going to be that hot or that some of the more northern areas of the world will be cold during your visit, but that is not necessarily the case due to climate change.
Carry Snacks With You and Always Remember to Eat
It is also a smart idea to carry healthy snacks with you such as Cliff or Kind Bars or other healthy options such as mixed nuts, fruit, granola and oats. Always make sure to eat and to keep your body nourished. Try avoiding junk food, which may be easier said than done when on the road, but always possible if you’re willing to look. Needless to say ensure you also communicate with your agent and/or manager if you have any dietary concerns or restrictions, such as if you are vegan or vegetarian or on a gluten-free diet or any other type of diet. It’s important to let promoters know this ahead of time via your rider so they are prepared accordingly — you don’t want to end up at an expensive steak restaurant and then have to mention that you are vegan or vegetarian.
You might not always have time to eat in between gigs and there is no reason why you can’t take 30 minutes to eat a sandwich or some other type of food while at the venue. Don’t always rely on the hotel’s room service or expect to have enough time to grab a meal, especially when you may need to make a choice between a quick nap or a meal out somewhere. Try to eliminate anything that contains sugar and try your best to eat organic. If you must drink alcohol, a glass of beer or wine is healthier than whiskey and coke or vodka and red bull. Some craft beer can actually be healthier for you than light beers also and are much better to sip on casually as well. While it is known that alcohol is everywhere in this industry, a touring lifestyle filled with drunken nights is not only extremely unhealthy, but can directly be the cause of sub-par sets and a declining mental condition.
Test Your Drugs
It is no secret that drug use is rampant in the scene and many times it can be unavoidable. Although we don’t condone the use of illegal drugs or substances, it is necessary to mention that if you do choose to partake in the use of drugs, you should always get your drugs tested. Many festivals are partnered with DanceSafe and have testing facilities. Avoid drug use before your set at all costs and never do more than you can handle. Know your limit and don’t ever get drugs from someone that you don’t know personally.
Keeping your body active and exercised is extremely important if you’re trying to lead a healthy lifestyle. This is even more so if you’re constantly in the road, sitting on a plane, waiting in hotel rooms and traveling from hotel to airports for weeks at a time. While it is understandable that not all hotels can have gyms, and that artists often use airbnb or crash at friend’s places while on tour, you don’t need a gym to keep active.
Remember you can always go outside for some cardio, or google for in-home exercises and work-out plans that do not require equipment beyond what can be readily found in a common apartment.
If you plan your tour schedule accordingly, get an adequate amount of sleep, eat right, and remember to have fun and enjoy yourself. Then you can set out to do what you love which is playing music and making people dance!