How to Rule A Van Tour with Your Band

The Paisley Fields on stage at Midway Cafe in Boston. We are doing this tour as a duo. Photo by Sam Garkow. 

The Paisley Fields on stage at Midway Cafe in Boston. We are doing this tour as a duo. Photo by Sam Garkow. 


1. Eat Healthy and Exercise.

Try to stick to the same diet as when you’re at home. Touring can be a drastic change from your daily life, so keeping your diet and exercise routine consistent is key to staying healthy.

2. Drink lots of water.

It’s an easy one to forget, but very important. I fill up one or two big bottles of water, and tell myself I need to finish it by the end of the day.

3. Treat everyone with respect.

You never know who you are talking to, or when you will cross paths again. This is a helpful rule to follow not only on the road, but in life.

4. Get your $$$$. 

If you don’t have a manager or tour manager to collect the money, it’s part of your job. You are there to do a job, and you deserve to be compensated for that. Know the agreement beforehand and hold the venue/promoter accountable. If you held up your end of the bargain, they need to hold theirs.

5. See friends and family.

One of the best parts of touring is seeing friends and family you rarely get to see. I always make a point to invite friends and family to the shows, or visit if it’s possible.

Visiting my good friend Sam for a BBQ and bonfire last week on our day off. 

Visiting my good friend Sam for a BBQ and bonfire last week on our day off. 

6. Get plenty of sleep.

It’s not easy, but try to get 8 hours of sleep. It will help your voice stay in shape, and if you’re driving for long stretches of time you need to be alert.

7. Promote your shows.  

If nobody knows about the performance, they aren’t going to show up. Do everything you can to get the word out that you’re coming to town. Whether you hire a publicist or do it yourself, it is essential to create buzz.

8. Get everything in writing.

I’ve heard too many nightmare stories of bands getting double-booked or not paid. Make sure you have everything in writing, and save those emails. You don’t want any questions when it comes to getting paid at the end of the night.

9. Enjoy!   

Have fun! You’re doing what most musicians want to do. Touring is a wonderful adventure. You get to meet interesting people, and see new places.  


1. Have a bad attitude.

I’ve toured with people before who ruined the trip with a bad attitude. Touring can be stressful at times, but having a bad attitude only magnifies the negative. Grow up, be professional and leave your pouty pants at home.  

2. Leave before the other bands have finished their set.

This seems like a no-brainer, but it happens so often. Unless you have something real important happening, don’t leave before the other bands on your bill play. It’s disrespectful.

3. Show up late.

Showing up late is also disrespectful. If sound check is at 6, get there at 5:45. A real professional detests lateness.

4. Show up drunk or high.

It’s fine to have a few drinks or a smoke, but if you are completely bombed before you get your gear through the door, it’s not going to go well.

5. Assume you can read minds of people in the crowd.

You never know what someone is thinking. If someone is blatantly heckling you, then it’s certainly ok to respond. But never assume you know what a person in the crowd thinks of your performance. Just play your best and worry about the rest afterwards. I’ve been surprised by people I thought hated the show, but actually turned out to be superfans.

6. Forget any gear. 

Come prepared. Bring extra cords, power cables, picks, mics, whatever you need.


7. Make excuses.

I can’t stand excuses. “Well we can’t do this because…” Excuses and laziness will not get you far on the road, or in life. Don’t make excuses; make things happen.  

The Paisley Fields are currently on tour in the northeast. Tonight we are playing Housatonic, MA. Visit the tour section at for a full list of dates.