Crowd during At The Gates recent US Tour, by Hillarie Jason Photography
In Part II of Lindsay O’Connor’s survival guide for winning at tour life, she covers more essential knowledge to overcome common pitfalls such has bad eating habits, dealing with a total lack of personal space, and the hope of getting any semblance of rest between gigs.
Crap confections found at truck stops, like plastic-wrapped everything, hot dogs sweating out grease, cookies, chips, Gardettos, and cheap sweets, make for a heavy-on-the-breath, post-consumption scent.
In the South, fried chicken is available at nearly every one—biscuits gravy too—and in-van eating makes for a fried-food perfumery—a greasy belch becomes an allspice strong enough to curl even the straightest hair.
The Solution: Chew gum, use mouthwash, brush teeth.
Rid yourself of corn-dog carrion; keep thy precious mouth clean.
Wacky Tobacky & Cigarettes
Smoke, of any kind, is strong and leaves long-lasting odor choke. Combined with any or all of the aforementioned scents, and smoke can and does make for undeterred intensity that rarely ever abates.
The Solution: Ventilate
Smoke only with windows open or rolled down. Keep a box of Arm & Hammer baking soda open under the seat. Febreze often, and grab an air freshener tree at the next gas station fuel-up.
The Solution: Only abstinence offers 100 percent protection.
Deal with Space Constraints
When traveling with a smaller group, it’s easier to claim space and stake out van turf.
If possible, pick a seat, or call a bench or shotgun; stow your personal items in that area.
Note, however, this may not always be possible: in cases where there are more than a handful of people in the van, you’ll have to be flexible.
The solution: Keep your stuff in one space
For space constraints, try to keep your personal goods all in one area: your stuff will be easy to find—you can easily change clothing, access your food, and find your shoes without dismantling the van.
Accommodations: And Miles to Go Before I Sleep
Tight budgets also don’t often allow for hotel stays, so you’ll likely have to cozy up to the snoring slobber monster next to you.
You’ll also likely sleep on floors and in vans, or on dog-and-cat hair-ridden sofa beds. But do find time to sleep: sleep prevents you from snapping necks and slitting wrists; it affords the brain a much-needed abscond from the over-stimulating reality of touring.
If you can steal away to a hotel room alone, please do: private time is a luxury, so enjoy it wisely. Restore in a soft bed and get a good hot shower in the morning.
But if you can’t, embrace the perils of road sleep: In the spirit of camaraderie, dog pile your homies—snuggle up to that bearded wonder tech-ing your six string.
Be forgiving of unsavory sleeping environments; be grateful for generosity: crashing in people’s homes is common, so be sure to thank them for their hospitality.
Handle Physical Contact
Tight spaces may also mean that you’ll have to deal with close physical proximity to people—that seems like a given, but you’d be surprised how many people have problems with touching.
The solution: Focus Power
Stay focused, tune out annoying things (smells, sounds, snoring), and learn to deal with someone’s arm or leg on your own. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Be sure to check back here tomorrow for Part III of Lindsay’s insightful compendium of how to make it out of the tour van alive and in one piece.
Follow Lindsay O’Connor’s adventures on the road through her Instagram at OSPREY_MM.