Ways To Avoid Losing Your Mind While On Tour

ways to stay sane on tour

The band Big O is headed out on tour soon and member Robert Lanterman is looking for ways to keep sane on the bus

This March, I’m going on my first full US tour.

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am for this, but maybe I should be dreading sitting in a van with at least four other people for hours and hours at a time for an entire month. I’m trying to think of ways not just to keep myself occupied, but to keep me from killing everyone else I’ll be in close proximity to day-in and day-out.

I rattled my brain to think of what I’ve done on shorter tours in the past, and what friends of mine have done on longer tours to keep themselves sane, and I think I put together a pretty good list.

You can be the judge of that, though.

Ways To Avoid Losing Your Mind While On Tour #musicbiz #ontour Click To Tweet

It’s worth mentioning that not all of these things mean being alone or keeping to yourself (though some of them certainly do) but add to how you might be able to further enjoy your present company.

King of the Road

I have multiple friends who have played King of the Road on tour. My buddies in Casual Friday even made a video about it (which is coming out in the next few months)!

If you’re not aware of what King of the Road is, it’s a game originally created by Thrasher Magazine in which two teams of professional skaters are given challenges to complete in two weeks on a skating tour.

king of the road

Totally reasonable way to spend your time on tour

Some are skating related, and some are silly (i.e. dress up like a cowboy and ride a horse).

But the point is getting your friends to do ridiculous things, and having a little bit of friendly competition.

Arguably, this could make you go more insane depending on what the challenges are and how serious everyone on your tour is. But until you get you and your friends hurt lighting your pants on fire or kickflipping off the top of a van, I don’t really think you can say for sure.

Indulge (in New Media)

Music, movies, podcasts – take your pick! There’s plenty of new media to consume.

Here’s a tip though: The more diverse creativity you absorb, the more creative you will get Click To Tweet

Arizona State University professor Angela Giron put it best: “[consuming media] is not entirely changing perspectives, but adding to the layering of perspectives.” Studying others’ creative media helps you look at your own from different angles.

And since you do have some downtime in the van, it’d be a good time to explore digging into some stuff you haven’t been able to yet. Here’s a few of my more random suggestions:

  • Music
  • Listen through the Beatles’ entire Discography in order (I have not actually done this)
  • Pick a genre you’re more or less unfamiliar with and buy/listen through a classic compilation
  • Find out the top influencers of your own influencers and explore their catalogs

Read a Damn Book!

how to spend time on tour

Best way to spend your time on tour — hands down.

I know this is the most obvious thing to do while traveling but it’s also probably the most important for keeping yourself sharp.

Reading is great, and I know it’s hard to do if you aren’t accustomed to doing so. Let’s face it: in our day and age, it can be difficult to discipline yourself to just read a book.

Unlike television, you have to make the effort to read the words on the page, rather than having a story told or shown to you. But it makes you smarter, and is good for personal growth as well.

However, if you want to read a book and just can’t bring yourself to stare at a page, one way to combat this would be audio books. They may be the best way to go (or to re-start reading) for those with short attention spans.

Explore Local

I’ve written this in other articles about touring, and it’s kind of assumed, but just in case you thought you should sit in the van all day, you’re wrong.

New cities are fun.

There’s usually something for everyone in a new place, and if there’s not, you don’t want to kick yourself for not trying later. You don’t have to hang out with all of your bandmates every day, though a buddy-system is probably best in most big cities.

I strongly encourage checking out local swimming holes, skate parks, and the like. Local food, record and clothing stores are musts for me. On top of all of that, though, something I believe is commonly overlooked is using your off days to go see other shows.

I personally think it’s fun to go to hole-in-the-wall DIY shows like my own. But on the other hand, I’m from a little town that’s often skipped over by bigger tours. So if I find out about a giant band I love who’s in town when I’m there, I’m going to be scouring less well-known ticket sites for the best deals to go see them, obviously.

Cop some Z’s

If sleep is for the weak, then color me a wimp – there’s nothing better on a long drive than skipping the majority of it.

On Tour: If sleep is for the weak, then color me a wimp Click To Tweet

At least out here in the Northwest, it’s mostly hills anyway, and I love taking that time getting well-needed rest. Unless you’re doing something REALLY fun in the van, or you’re driving and/or navigating, I can’t actually think of a time where napping isn’t appropriate.

John Lennon wrote a song called “How Do You Sleep?” I’ve never heard the song personally (not even in writing this), but if he asked me that question, I would probably tell him “well, all the time, and in the van.”

Booyah.

Write

You’re stuck to your seat, nobody’s talking to you, you can’t sleep, etc. Long drives ahead, you’re looking out the window and you think about how much you hate stupid boring Nevada or wherever you are.

So take out your note pad, your phone, your trendy tablet or your computer, and just write how you feel.

Write a short story, or lyrics you’ll never use, or whatever – make yourself create art in the most mundane periods of promoting and sharing it. You’re never required to use what you write, but writing relieves you of stress, and it’s something to do, so why not?

Quit

Well, this is the end. You can’t stand your bandmates, you can’t stand your merch person, and you certainly can’t stand yourself. The other band you’re on tour with is a bunch of idiots and so maybe it’s time to give up.

There’s no shame in that – quit like a quitter’s never quit before! You got this. The time has come get up, get out, and go on forever.

Give up on your dreams like a champion (or the opposite of a champion, technically).

No guilt, no shame.

Rob Lanterman is a writer, musician, and label owner living in Boise, ID. He loves music almost as much as he hates vegetables, which is a lot. Follow him on Twitter @Robolitious.

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