It may seem silly, but even a brief touring gig can really take it out of you...
While I adjusted my internal clock to run on American Eastern Standard Time after a 15-day tour in Germany, Scotland, England and Ireland, I looked back at the things that were done right and realized why paying attention to the basics made the 2011 tour a success.
The first part of the trip was my fourth visit to Germany’s annual MusikMesse in Frankfurt. By being prepared I was able to meet up with my music sponsors and perform once again on the Acoustic Stage, courtesy of invites by both Shubb Capos and Mel Bay Publications. I also reconnected with several old friends, including SONiA of Disappear Fear and flamenco master, Lulo Reinhardt.
Prior to take off I confirmed all my landing points with transportation and accommodations in place, and also made sure that everyone had my overseas mobile number. Having a mobile with one sim card is handy and less expensive than my U.S. cell phone international plan. I use a EuroBuzz phone with only one number to remember and it never changes no matter where I travel.
Navigational preparation was crucial for a tour with complex routing, both prior and during the trip. Getting from point A to point B, then all the way to point X, involved plane flights with several airlines (all having different luggage allowances and extra fees), taxi and motor coach rides, and an impromptu booking on three different trains with multiple transfers. The payoff of an extensive travel background was to know ahead of time that the multiple train transfers were not a good idea for me and to avoid that scenario altogether.
Other basics I kept a close watch on from the beginning was to eat and sleep well. Sound too basic for you? In my case, if I do not eat regularly, my brain goes into stupid mode and you don't want to have me drive you around if I have not had enough sleep. I started the tour healthy and well rested and during the trip tried to limit my caffeine intake and stress triggers. And believe it or not, I followed the basic rule all mothers drill into your skull: I washed my hands and face often!
I realize this may sound trivial, but when preparing for a lengthy tour I never want to be sick or get sick on the front end. I just wind up fighting the cold or whatever microbe invades my carbon unit and this inhibits me from having a good time or playing and performing as well as I am capable of doing.
Recognizing the basics of pacing, proper rest, and diet (you get plenty of exercise walking venues, airports, train stations, stairs), and a relaxed attitude is the main key for me for pulling off a successful tour. I keep reminding myself that I am in this for the long haul. If you find yourself traveling for business or pleasure, learn to follow the basics and your trip will be a success.
One of my guitar students and his father came to see me at a restaurant gig a couple weeks ago. He's a successful businessman and I asked him casually, “ how often does your business model change?” He answered, “weekly!” After confiding that mine has changed several times since moving to Texas, we discussed trends in business.