Some unestablished bands set out to tour for the first time abroad or overseas with the expectation that their time will be spent sightseeing, mingling with locals, and playing a bit of music. However, the harsh demands and innate discomfort of DIY touring comes as a rude awakening for bands who equate touring to fun, carefree vacationing. Today, we’re sharing three reasons why thinking of tour as a vacation is a bad idea.
Tour isn’t relaxing
If you’re lucky, your next tour might include a literal stroll on the beach, but that doesn’t mean tour is relaxing. It’s just the opposite, in fact. Whether it’s the stress of performing night after night or the inability to find time to yourself, touring is a high-pressure event for most musicians. This means that attempting to kill two birds with one stone by booking a tour and hoping to find rest and relaxation is bound to disappoint you greatly. There is plenty of dead time on the road, but it’s usually spent in the confines of a moving van or venue’s green room. Yes, you’ll visit interesting places, but not long enough to truly enjoy them.
Vacations are time away from work – Touring is nothing but work
In case you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of DIY touring, there are loads and loads of physical, mental, and emotional work involved. Yes, some artists lived charmed lives out on the road where their work completely consists of strolling up on stage and performing night after night, but that’s a world away from the immense work DIY touring takes to make happen. One of the biggest reasons you shouldn’t think of touring as a vacation is because there’s no time on the road to do the things you would on vacation. You’ll either be doing work directly associated with your shows like driving, loading into venues, or sound-checking, or will be stuck in scenarios where you have free time in theory, but not on your own terms. Waiting to play, waiting to load out after a set, waiting through long drives from city to city––this is a part of the hard work of touring, and it’s nothing like vacation.
You should be making money on tour, not blowing it
Vacations are expensive for a reason. They represent crucial break periods for people to catch their breath from the challenges of day-to-day living and enjoy themselves. Done right, touring is something that should earn you or your band money and not the other way around. It’s wise to view your first attempts at touring as a personal and financial investment, but only if you have a real plan for earning money, fans, and notoriety eventually down the line. If you’re lucky enough to have money to spend on your music, it shouldn’t be thrown at long tours that don’t produce meaningful results for your music with the caveat of viewing your time on the road as vacations.
Touring and vacation are two very separate things, and trying to combine them will most likely result in one frustrating experience for everyone involved. By keeping your music work separate from your personal needs, you’ll have the best chance at being successful in your touring efforts.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.