Whether you make a living as a musician or you’re trying to get your name out there, you’ll likely find yourself traveling to different cities, states, and countries sooner or later.
After-all, touring is one of the best ways to establish yourself in the industry. You’ll obtain fans of different backgrounds, and work with collaborators you would never have the chance to work with back home.
Traveling for fun can be stressful as it is, but traveling as a musician comes with its own set of unique challenges, like planning your showtimes across different time-zones, factoring in things like jetlag, and ensuring you have the right equipment.
As such, we’ve put together 4 tips you can utilize as a traveling musician.
4 Tips to Master Travel as a Musician
Decisions About Your Equipment
Some musicians rent equipment at each destination, so they don’t have to worry about transporting their own. So the first decision you’ll need to make is whether you’re taking your equipment with you.
If you need to have your own equipment to play your best, don’t bring along your nicest electric guitar or drum set. Consider getting some used cymbals at DCP or other quality secondhand equipment, depending on the instrument you play.
By traveling with second hand equipment, you won’t drop too much money on gear that’s at risk of damage, loss, or theft while you’re on the road.
The next decision comes down to how you’re traveling; if you’re traveling by car, load your equipment carefully. Every time your gear needs to be transported, allow yourself adequate time to safely unpack and securely re-load it.
If you’re traveling by plane, decide if you want to carry your gear on with you or have it checked. Obviously, you won’t be able to travel with bulky sound gear and equipment in the cabin, but if you have small instruments, check the airlines carry on limits.
Stay Healthy on the Road
Travel can put real pressure on our immune system; the stress, breaking the routine, jet lag, exposure to sick people, and environmental toxins. These all take their toll.
There’s nothing worse than having to cancel a show because you’re ill, so it’s essential to make sure that you stay healthy before you travel, and stay healthy while you’re on the road.
Maintaining a healthy diet is key here, and regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. Minimize your alcohol, smoking, and any drug dependencies (including prescriptions like antibiotics) to boost your immune system before you go.
Also, make sure you stay hydrated.
If you’re traveling internationally, factor in extra time between performances to recover from jet lag and exhuastion from flying. If you struggle with mental health, set up a plan for coping while you’re on the road, whether that’s setting time aside for meditation, or online therapy.
If you want to forego that hazy feeling of being in a new time zone, it’s best to try and adapt to your destination’s sleep schedule in advance. That brings us to our next point …
As exciting as touring is, you still need to sleep. Otherwise, you won’t be able to give your best performance.
Sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system and make it more vulnerable to developing an illness. But sleep produces more natural levels of melatonin, restoring the immune system.
If your gigs are scheduled for late evening, and you know you’ll be staying out for after-parties, line up a sleep schedule during day so that you’re always well rested.
If you’re simultaneously traveling and pinching pennies, you may not always be able to land a hotel room. If you feel comfortable enough, don’t shy away from crashing with an old band-mate or someone you’ve met while on tour.
If you don’t stay sharp, touring can become monotonous and full of waiting around. Take advantage of downtime and work on song lyrics, new beats, or ideas for music videos.
Don’t be afraid to enjoy your travel time. Visit landmarks, explore each new city, and meet new people. This will allow you to connect with each place you visit and build lifelong connections that can benefit your career.
Creativity gets a special boost when you’re in a new destination. Our brains are sensitive to change, so exposure to new environments or experiences while traveling lets you exercise some of your mental muscles that may have lay dormant during periods of relative monotony.
A study reported in The Atlantic found that traveling changes the way your neural pathways connect. New experiences prompt new thoughts, feelings, and even ideas, leading to enhanced creativity.
So use it!
Don’t Let the Stress of Travel Get to You
As a musician, your primary goals are likely to have fun and share your love of music with others. Even if traveling isn’t your forte, it’s important to always remain calm and resourceful while on the road.
Utilize these 4 tips to have the most memorable and productive travel experiences possible!