Since I've had the last week and a half to get my thoughts together, I figured I might as well write something about where I've been and what I've learned.
One of the biggest problems being on the road is erratic schedules. What that means is your eating gets really screwed up as well as your sleeping. In order to keep from gaining 150 pounds or just generally feeling like crap, eat as many vegetables as you can, when you can because catering and food options can be pretty grim.
Same goes for water. Drink it, lots of it. Bring it with you for long van rides and flights. Keep a bottle handy in your bag and pound it before you go through airport security and they make you throw it away.
Keep some nuts and Cliff Bars around for when there's just nothing to eat or you don't want to pay $9 for a slice of crappy pizza.
Before you leave home, download TV shows to your iPod that you don't have time to watch when you're home. I started watching season 1 of Family Guy on an airplane somewhere over the Great Lakes. I think that show has a future.
Speaking of your iPod or iPhone, make sure you don't forget your chargers and all that music you've never gotten around to listening to at home.
Internet service is sometimes free at hotels, sometimes not.
Find out about, and drink the local beer. You can get Budweiser anywhere, try something new.
Play with the local musicians. Find out where the jam sessions are and go. You'll quickly find out there are great players everywhere, and sometimes in the places you least expect.
Bring stuff to practice and the magazines that have been piling up on your coffee table.
Good headphones for your iPod are key to being able to hear what you're listening to and for letting the chatty guy sitting next to you on the plane that you're busy.
Bring your sense of humor. I was lucky to be touring with some really great people but if you're stuck for 10 days in the middle of nowhere with people you don't like, it's going to get old really fast. Remember why you're there—somebody likes your playing. That's a good thing. Focus on that, put your head down and get through it.
Be nice to the sound guy/girl, stagehand, tech, pretty much everyone. You might be coming through there again next year and people have memories. Chances are, these people are doing what they're doing cause they love music too. You're in it together.
Enjoy the fact that you're getting paid to play music around the country. Even when I was hitting somewhere that someone else might call nowhere, I met cool people and saw at least one amazing thing when I was there. Not to get corny, but this is a great country. Enjoy the travel while you're out there.
And to everyone I met in the following places over the past few months, it was a pleasure. Calgary AB, Regina SK, Charleston SC, Palm Desert CA, Queens NY, Savanna GA, Washington DC, Palm Beach FL, Kalispel MT, Solvang CA, Fayetteville AR, Huntingdon TN, Cleveland MS, Syracuse NY, Minneapolis MN, El Cajon CA, Farmington PA, Salt Lake City UT, Fort Collins CO, Westport CT, New Orleans LA, Gretna LA, Easton PA, Williamsport PA, Troy NY.
If any of you have additional tips I'd love to hear them. It looks like I'll be out quite a bit in the coming year and there's always room for improvement.