2019 has been an eventful year so far. It started in a polar vortex, and has since been filled with traveling around Europe and the US. Through all of it, I have gained more friends, travel tips, and amusing anecdotes from tour. We have a few weeks left of this tour, but have so far visited the land of the Vikings, survived a turtle, a European heat wave, and more Easy Jet flights than a person should in one summer.
I never thought that I’d be touring with The Smashing Pumpkins this year, but you never can predict work when you’re an independent contractor. One of my favorite things about the work that I do, is working with people. That sounds simple, but it is not. In this business, every tour is like working at a new company. Your job is similar, but boss, coworkers, and interns are completely different each time. The Pumpkins crew is awesome, and are some of the best in the business. When everyone works well together, it certainly makes surviving the rigors of the road much easier.
One of the hardest things about traveling so often is the constant change. Aside from jet lag and scenery, your body feels like it is constantly tired. Even if you’re staying in the same region, your mind knows you’re somewhere new, and there is an underlying stress that is applied, constantly. This is most apparent on a day off. When you finally have a chance to have a consistent ‘place’ for more than 24 hours, your body lets go. You can actually sleep and have some time to recharge. Over time, you become accustomed to these changes, and your brain almost gets ‘in tour shape’, after a manner of speaking. At the end of a long run, I always try to pile on the Vitamin C and other supplements. Like a horse heading for the barn, I think your immune system is in overdrive for tour, but as the end approaches it backs down a bit, because it almost knows that rest and recovery are in the near future.
If you’re a traveling pro, I’m sure you’ve discovered the delight of airport lounges. Now, all of them are not created equal, but they make a gigantic difference on a travel day. The general insanity of an airport will wear you out. It just does. TSA Precheck, lounges, Global Entry, and CLEAR are all worth their weight in gold. Every bit of crazy that you can avoid at an airport pays huge dividends, especially if you find yourself in an airport every other day. You won’t notice as much of a difference if you’re just an occasional traveler, but if its a constant in your life, the benefits are cumulative.
For instance, there was a flight delay on tour recently that started as a 1 hour delay, but we ended up in the airport for almost 9 hours, from check-in till takeoff. Having the above mentioned perks is nice, but the real win on that day was the people that I was traveling with. Our combined travel perks and general numbers enabled us to carve out a quiet, comfy place, taking over one third of a lounge. Surrounded by good people, who are also travel pros, is awesome. That day passed in as comfortable an environment as possible. Thus, the massive stress of being surrounded by other travelers was avoided, and a major win for lowering the cumulative travel stress was achieved.
Another thing to keep in mind while traveling is to know the rules. Yes, TSA guys are not the kindest, but you wouldn’t be either if you were dealing with ignorant crazies all day. I won’t go over the rules, but seriously, think through things while packing. You need less than you think for your trip, wear shoes that slip off, and know your clothing. If it has set off a metal detector before, that won’t change this time around. Do those things, and the handsy hassle that security can be, will be a breeze. … and for crying out loud, NO DRINKS!! If you get TSA Precheck or something in addition, then you’ll go from waiting in a herd like the one picture on the right, to breezing through security in 5 min or less … Not to say that you won’t ever have a security hassle again, but you’ll do a lot to improve your chances by cruising through. A perfect trip through security is a beautiful thing.
Even with the stress it brings, traveling is a privilege. The thousands of miles that I have flown, 25+ countries visited, and places I have seen would not be possible for a normal human, outside of winning the lottery. Having your travel paid for is a gift. Until you’ve traveled internationally, there is a certain perspective on the world that you can’t come by any other way. We don’t always get tons of time to explore, so the scattered moments count. Even in those spare moments, I have learned several things. First, we are incredibly privileged to live in America. The everyday for us is a luxury everywhere else. Second, people are the same everywhere. They are like mirrors. If you are cordial, pleasant, and mannered, they will be as well. Third, and most importantly, kindness opens doors and crosses the language barrier. A smile, showing empathy, and being helpful are things that will leave a good impression. I shudder whenever I see most American tourists abroad. The vast majority present themselves as loud, ill-mannered oafs who don’t carry themselves with dignity, but arrogance and noise. If you want to do your part in improving America’s image abroad, strive to conduct yourselves with class and decorum. It will be welcomed.
Our day off is almost at an end, and travel starts again tomorrow. Rest, coffee, and a good shower do wonders. See you on the road!