In this Tour Tips segment, the singer-songwriter, Jacob Whitesides, recommends advice for being a musician on the road. You can check out the tips, after the break.
I’ve been touring now for a little over 6 years, and I think one of the biggest mistakes I made early on that caused a lot of anxiety and stress was not forming any type of routine. Being on the road and traveling as much as I was, my mind and my body always felt out of sync. Switching time zones, different sleeping situations, and going nonstop can really throw you for a loop no matter how much experience you have. A key part of being on the road for long extended amounts of time is making it feel like home, and having small tangible things to keep you grounded and healthy.
Sleep is one thing I always struggled with when touring, and having narcolepsy made it about 10 times more difficult. Off days don’t come often on tour, and relying on them for a full recharge doesn’t always work. There is nothing worse than getting 4 hours of sleep, and waking up early to soundcheck, followed by a meet and greet, and after that only having an hour or so before showtime. Trying to squeeze in a nap before a show also really kills the energy I need to put on a great show. Although it’s difficult with all the adrenaline from a show to lay down and go to sleep right after, it’s pretty vital. Pay attention to the amount of sleep you’re getting and prioritize it over anything else after shows. Bringing your own pillow is also extremely helpful, and helps when you start missing your bed back home.
This tip sounds kind of cliche, but staying hydrated when touring is so crucial for your energy and overall health. Make sure you go out of your way to stock the bus/van with as much water as possible and keep a big water bottle nearby so you remember to hydrate throughout the day. I’ve noticed how much better my voice holds up when I’m drinking about a gallon a day. I also like to pair my water with liquid iv! They make a hydration multiplier blend that also includes immune support (vitamin c) I think vitamins can be crucial too, but you should find out what works best for you. At the very least take a multivitamin, and maybe a vitamin c supplement to keep your immune system strong.
Another thing I do to stay sane while being on the road for a long time is exercising. This is probably the hardest thing for me to do given that touring can be very time-consuming, and you won’t always have access to a gym. I got a planet fitness membership for when I’m touring in the US, that seems to be the gym with the most locations. They also have showers for days when you’re stuck in a venue that has a nasty greenroom or none at all. On days you don’t have time or can’t find a gym make sure to at least try and get outside to walk/run/stretch, in the long run, it’ll help your on-stage stamina and overall energy levels more than you know.
The last thing I really try to focus on while touring is my diet. It’s going to be nearly impossible to eat healthy 100% of the time while being on the road, but grocery shopping and prepping your own meals whenever you have the chance is a game-changer. 95% of the time when you finish a show you’re going to be hungry, and you’re gonna have to choose between fast food or gas station food. I find that putting effort into a clean diet is not just important for my overall health, but it really helps my vocals. Whenever I start eating trash food, I always find I have more build-up in my throat which makes it way more difficult to sing. My goal when eating on the road isn’t to have a perfect diet, but to eat foods that give me enough energy to make it throughout my day without feeling sluggish.
Overall my main focus when touring is to remember it isn’t a vacation. I want to have as much fun as possible and explore all the new places I’m lucky enough to travel to, but I prioritize my health over everything. If you get sick or lose your voice, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to get it back. The last thing you want to do is let down fans who have been waiting a long time to see you. Once I got a good routine in place, touring became one of my favorite things in the world.