Updated: Aug 7, 2019
What’s it like traveling in a touring band?
Travel has always been a big part of my life. As a musician I’ve been fortunate to explore much of Canada, the US and Europe touring with my bands. Perhaps a little serendipitous considering that growing up my family moved constantly, and I mean constantly. We moved from one end of Canada to the other, from Victoria to St. John’s Newfoundland, down to South America and back again. It was hectic, and traveling was often stressful – unsure how I’d adapt to each new school and each new environment. In fact, I downright resented being constantly uprooted. The plus-side of growing up that way is learning how to just land and start setting up shop. Engaging with strangers comes naturally and is a very useful skill in adulthood. Being faced with endlessly new situations and cultures prepares you for big life experiences as a grown-up and serves as a solid introduction to the global economy. Above all, traveling gives a person a confidence that you just can’t get anywhere else.
So what’s it like traveling in a touring band? Well, there are many similarities to traveling with family. It’s all about making memories with people you love and care about. It’s about learning and experiencing the world while working in unison with others to accomplish a mutual goal.
When you’ve spent countless hours creating something as personal as music with other people, that camaraderie bonds you in a really special way. It’s that ‘us against the world’ feeling as you set out on the road to share your passion and leave it all on the floor every night. You experience the highs and the lows together as one single entity. Every success and failure brings you closer together.
Coming back home has its own glow. There’s nothing more beautiful than coming back to familiar territory with new outlooks and perspectives and a greater understanding of who you are and how you want to interact with the world around you.
I’ve mentioned this in other articles but mental health is very important on the road. A good musician should go into the prospect of travelling with everyone’s well-being in mind. Remember if one of you is down you all are. Keeping each other safe, sane and healthy are the priority and the second is to have a great show, you can’t do one without the other.
I’ve been making music for a long time but it wasn’t until my early 20’s that I started having the opportunity to travel with my music and explore what it meant to be a traveling entertainer. I love the open road and have really enjoyed the experiences of travelling as a vegan. Here are my top 5 tips for touring vegan and on a budget!
Here are my top five tips for touring vegan on a budget!
1. Pack minimally
On the road packing light is not only ideal but necessary. Whether you’re getting around by greyhound, a little Nissan truck, or a Ford Cargo Van with trailer the less stuff you have the less stuff you have to worry about. Packing light makes it easier to carry all your stuff around with you which means less chance of it getting stolen. Additionally your back and shoulders will thank you.
The legend of the perfect pack goes a little something like this: Everything you need. Nothing you don’t. My must haves include a good water resistant backpack, a small travel sized makeup pouch, a warm thermal one-piece, lots of socks and underwear, two tops and two bottoms. Depending on the itinerary I might add a small cutting board and knife, more clothing options, a sleep pack and change of shoes. If you’re bringing more clothes definitely utilize the rolling method. By making your clothing long and narrow and then rolling it you ensure that each article is taking up the least amount of space making for the most efficient pack.
2. Meal Plan
There’s nothing worse than being hungry especially when you’re tired or your performing nerves are getting to you. I’ve seen a shift towards more vegan options being provided by the venue or host which is really exciting. That being said - if you’re the only vegan in the vehicle, chances are the needs of the majority are going to be serviced first so having a well-balanced selection of food rations within your reach provides peace of mind. Packing and putting some thought into meal-planning is also much more cost effective than eating out the entire trip. Emergency protein powder, a few pieces of self-containing fruits and vegetables like yam, apple, grapefruit, snap peas, carrots and dark kale. Mixed nuts, seeds, dried fruits and a nut milk are also great staples, and I’ve found that a brick of smoked tofu survives being stored in a van quite well. A can or two of beans or bean soups with the pull tab tops are also awesome to have on hand. Pictured below is one of my favorite no-cook morning meals that can be made with a variety of easily transportable staple foods!
3. Stray fresh
Touring will at some point, become a test in how long you can exist without taking a shower. That being said you can do a lot in a bathroom sink, a reusable bottle of water or a naturally occurring body of water. A small compressible, fast drying anti-bacterial Body Towel will make life much more enjoyable and make freshening up a breeze. I have carried various all-purpose soaps around but have found that in a pinch Baking Soda is the best all-around cleaning product to carry. Use it sparingly for everything from teeth to hair, body, skin exfoliate, and to wash clothes. Its environmentally safe and the cheapest thing going.
Something else to consider is making time for Stretching. Sitting in a van for extended periods of time followed by thrashing your body onstage over and over is hard on even the strongest physique. Set time aside to stretch and move your body intentionally at least twice a day.
4. Easy glam
Being on the road doesn’t mean you can’t still get a little extra for the stage. Recently I have been packing a shadow palette, a lip and a liner, mascara and brushes. If it fits into a travel sized makeup pouch then it’s coming. Current go-to travel pallet would be The elf Palette, it’s got a fantastic color range and slim size. The formula is amazing and of course, vegan. Invest in a good Face Oil, or mix your own. Face oils are life savers on the road. They keep the skin protected and moisturized and they double as makeup remover.
Drink Water! Protect your skin from the inside-out against the elements such as cold outdoors, air-conditioned vehicles, and hot summer burns by making sure you drink enough water every day. Always pack a good Thermos and/or Portable Filter Bottle so you can enjoy drinking fresh water throughout the day, hot teas and more. Pro-Tip: gas stations offer a place to load up on fresh or boiling water. Being as they take up almost no space pack a variety of teas with you for some extra herbal considerations and relaxing or stimulating hydration time.
No tour-related guide would be complete without acknowledging the drinking culture. If partying is how you celebrate in the moment then by all means, get it on! My go to party mix? vodka vodka vodka. A small bottle of hard liquor is easier to pack around than a six pack and a little goes a long way. Venues will usually offer soda and lemon if you ask nicely. There are often drink tickets or discounts offered by the venue for travelling bands which can be used to acquire beer – but not all beer is vegan. Here’s a great reference to learn more about vegan friendly beers.
Know your limits play within it- don’t be the guy that ruins things for everyone else because you had twelve whiskeys too many. Being stuck in a van with someone who’s hungover and grumpy or sick and overtired is no fun at all. Let’s also take a moment to consider that alcohol is a depressant and it will mess with your mind over the long run. That being said get wild and have fun!
These top tips were a lot of fun to put together
I hope you enjoyed them! As I write this I have been on tour with BRASS really taking in how much I love being able to travel with my best friends and sharing our music with the world.
Please comment and share your own favorite travel tips with everyone here in the comment section below!
Here are some additional travel tips submitted from a recent give-away contest on the White Rhino Bags Instagram page.