I’m thinking about writing about self-care on the road as my next essay topic.
Clearly, we all understand that with age comes the inability to bounce back from hangovers, but I think there’s a lot more to maintaining health on the road than simply cutting back on the partying. Yes, diet is a major factor, or jet lag for international trips, but I think the root concern everything leads to is sleep.
I remember that touring while in my twenties was easy. I could be sick as a dog and still party my way through a tour; all the while sleeping on floors and eating like crap (if at all). I remember making up lost sleep during the daytime in the back of the van, or simply not worrying about it. Naturally as I age, the party is less interesting and I gravitate more towards finding regional cuisine and drinking nice coffee instead of staying up late to drink with the locals, but at the same time I find it increasingly difficult to actually fall asleep while on the road. This is a major concern. I feel like the patterns I formed during younger years are extremely difficult to break, and no matter how nice my hotel is, it’s a struggle to get comfortable.
So what are those patterns, and why do I struggle to sleep now?
At least for me, this seems to be one of the harder topics to figure out and correct. I’m lucky that I managed to escape touring in my 20’s without an affection for drugs and I am proud to say it was never my thing. And even though I consumed more than my fair share of Jameson, I wouldn’t say that I need to drink to sleep. In fact, I’m becoming more and more cautious with drinking and enjoy cutting back, even while traveling.
Still, I can’t explain the sleepless nights while touring, despite feeling entirely exhausted after days of gigs and travel. I don’t remember sleep being so difficult while traveling. In fact, I remember sleeping decently in horrible conditions.
I’m landing on a few issues that I think are factors:
Comfort and cleanliness
The only thing worse than not having a hotel, is having a hotel that is filthy.
To drinking or not to drink. Certainly sleep can be attained by passing out drunk, but the long term issue is the body builds up a tolerance and more and more drinks need to be consumed before it can sleep.
I still work while traveling. Many nights I have to play the show and head back to the hotel to get a couple hours of work done. There are times where this gets really tricky.
For me, self-prioritization on the road is that moment when you show up in a town and things are clearly not what you expected. Perhaps the venue messed up and put the whole band in a hostel room – together. Or maybe the following day has a 9am flight, but the “free” place to stay is 2 hours from the airport. Self-prioritization is the choice to pull out the credit card and instantly make your life a little bit easier by getting a room, hiring a taxi instead of taking the train, etc. However, this can be really hard to justify when the money you earn is less than when you are spending. It’s even harder when the rest of your band wants to go cheap and you need to move as a unit.
I’m going to continue thinking about this, and if enough comes together I’ll turn it into my next essay.