lights on a road at night

Cutting your teeth as a musician is tough; you need to learn to take criticism, live and breathe the music, and put up with your band mates. And one of the toughest points of that arc is touring.

Nothing prepares you for those long runs kempt up in the back of a van. But it’s one of the most important parts of becoming a band with a future.

Putting in the road hours pays off, big time

Some of the biggest bands on the planet dirtied their hands putting in show after show 365 days a year.

Don’t underestimate it.

Thankfully, there are a few tips that’ll make touring life a little easier, and we’re going to share those tips with you here.

Who’s behind the wheel?

It’s rare that an unsigned band has a designated driver (unless your unemployed friend wants to hit the road with you too) so it’s likely that you’ll all be doing a stint behind the wheel. This can quickly cause conflict though. If one person finds themselves driving more often than another, they might want to confront them about it. Or, after the show you may all find that you’ve had too much to drink and no one can drive!

Make sure this doesn’t happen by preparing a driving schedule before you set out. Decide on a set amount of time each member has to do per day. So 3 hours each in daylight hours, 1 hour each at night and rotate a designated driver each evening so that the other members of the band can have a beer.

It’ll save a lot of arguments.

An apple a day...

While you’re on the road you aren’t going to have time to rustle up a gourmet meal. Fast food and quick bites are going to be your diet. But this isn’t doing your body any good. Make a conscious effort to stock up on healthy snacks – fruits and nuts – and keep plenty of water aboard the van. Make sure you’re stopping off every couple of hours to stretch your legs too. Staying cramped up between a snare drum and a bass guitar for hours on end will do nothing for your muscles.

Money, money, money

 Eugh, money. It’s difficult to think of money as a problem when you’re living the dream, but it’s important. I know, I know, soul crushing, right? If you don’t have enough of it though, you’ll struggle to reach the end of the tour - how are you going to keep the van stocked up with gas? How are you going to feed yourselves?

Who’s going to buy the post-show pints?

Figure out how much you have to spend before the tour commences and work out a limit per day. This should ensure that you can actually make it to the end without having to cancel shows.

Protect your livelihood

Your equipment is the money maker. Without it you aren’t going to be able to play the show, so treat it all as the crown jewels. If you’re lucky enough to be playing abroad invest in sturdy flight cases. If you’re just going across the country in the van, purchase some really protective amp and guitar cases.

Imagine turning up at a show and opening your case to find the neck of your guitar has snapped off.

Not good.

Extra essentials

It’s all very well and good that you have plenty of healthy snacks and all your gear is safe, but there are a few more essentials you’re going to need stowed away in the glove compartment. The first and probably most important is the sat-nav. You haven’t been to these places before; don’t think that by some miracle you’ll find them using your own sense of direction.

Pack a camera too. Your first ever tour is worth remembering; don’t be afraid to be snap-happy. Don’t forget your phone either. Your parents and friends will want to know how it’s all going. Plus, you never know, you might meet some big-wig A&R guy who wants your number!