Ah, the life of a touring musician! Being whisked from one city to the next, the nonstop parties, hotel rooms, and sleeping on a bus or floor. Amidst all the craziness, you may wonder where musicians find the time to eat. You may also wonder what they eat when they get a chance to eat on tour?!
So, what do musicians eat on tour? The answer to that question varies according to the musician’s budget and personal taste. A low budget musician may have to make do with whatever they can find at the local 7-11. Musicians that are more established may travel with a personal chef. These musicians may also have a rider with requests for food that must be available when they arrive at venues.
This article will look at all types of musicians and what they might eat on tour.
What Do Low Budget Musicians Eat on Tour?
Okay, I’m going to be a little self-indulgent here and tell you about the food experiences I had when I went on tour with my punk band back in the ’90s.
My sister and I were the leaders of the band. We were raised to be frugal and didn’t care too much about what we ate. Also, we were devoted to staying within our budget, which was pretty much only the measly guarantees we got from the clubs we played and some merch sales. We didn’t want to spend valuable time that we needed to travel from city to city waiting for food in a diner.
After a few days, our drummer started to rebel. He wanted to have a nice sit-down meal. If I remember correctly, my sister and I never did give in, which may be part of why he didn’t stay with our band long after the tour ended.
If You are Lucky…
Of course, there were a few times when the venue or another band or fan offered to put us up and cook us a meal. I remember one venue we played doubled as a restaurant. We showed up starving and waited for what seemed like hours while the owner painstakingly worked on making us a delicious meal….only to see him drop our guitarist’s Italian sub on the floor. Oops, time to start over!
What Does the High Budget Musician Eat on Tour?
While the low budget musician may be limited to 7-11’s and a few generously offered home-cooked meals, musicians with a larger paycheck will take around personal chefs to make them meals. They may include requests in their rider so that the venue provides them with certain meals. Or they may make sure the meals they want are waiting for them in their hotel room.
Let’s take a look at some of today’s hottest artists and see what they eat on tour.
Carrie Underwood is a vegan, so it should be no surprise that she has a particular, very healthy road menu. Her rider requires organic fruits and vegetables, vitamin water, Diet Coke, three hummus types, Honest Green Tea, and two peppermint gum packs.
While many musicians focus on a healthy diet that will provide them with the ultimate health and energy on the road, Bieber is more of a mixed bag. While fruits and vegetables come into play, he also enjoys bread and deli meat, mixed nuts, Swedish fish, and potato chips.
It should come as no surprise that Mariah Carey prefers luxury when it comes to what she eats on tour. She demands chilled chardonnay, Fiji water, vanilla protein shakes, melon and strawberry Gatorade, sparkling water, Opus One Cabernet Sauvignon, Coke, Diet Coke, and two vases of white roses. We hope the roses are not for eating.
Lady Gaga’s sense of fun really comes through in what she puts in her rider. She asks for specific flavored Gatorade drinks and protein shakes. She also requests chocolate covered almonds, guacamole and chips, and a plate of “non-smelly, non-sweaty” cheese.
For Kanye, it’s all about the beverages. In addition to 24 bottles of spring water, 24 bottles of Propel water, and eight bottles of Vitamin Water, he also asks for Hennessey, Absolut Vodka, Patron Silver Tequila Heineken.
While most stars like to stay healthy, Blake Shelton lets his country boy pallet take over. His rider includes fruit juice, peanut butter, 2% milk, beef jerky, cereal, barbecue chips, Sun chips, Cheetos, and Hershey’s chocolate minis.
The Whitesnake lead singer prefers to eat bland food before a show. He asks for two chicken breasts and a baked potato, all with nothing on them, and broccoli. Apparently, he has a strict no quinoa, no kale rule.
The Best Advice on Eating Well While on Tour
Now here’s some advice that will work well no matter what type of budget you’re on. Whenever you stop in a town, stock up on healthy food that is portable, doesn’t need to be refrigerated immediately, and provides tons of energy.
That way, you don’t have to worry about being hungry at a time when the bus can’t pull over. You’ll always have something good to eat.
Here are some snacks that make great tour food.
Great Tour Snacks you Can Take on the Road
- Granola: It’s healthy, portable, and you can mix it with dried fruit and nuts to add flavor.
- Trail Mix: This mix of dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and sometimes even a bit of candy is nutritious and delicious.
- Raw Veggies: Veggies like carrots, radishes, and cucumbers are easy to take on the road, and they’ll hold up rather well. If you are good at balancing, bring along some hummus for dipping.
- Tea and Lemon: These may not be as portable, but if you’re a singer, they are two items you won’t want to be without. They do wonders for a sore throat. As an insider’s secret, hot water, and salt can be even more effective.
- Multivitamins: Touring can really wear you down. Have some vitamins on hand to enjoy optimal health on the road.
Life on the road isn’t all fun and games. If you’re on a low budget, it can be tough to find good food to eat. These tips will get you prepared for figuring out your menu regardless of your financial situation. Good luck with finding delicious food when you tour.
Below are some other tips for going on tour.
FAQ’s for Being on Tour
How do you stay healthy on tour?
We already discussed how important it is to eat healthy food while on tour. Here are some other tips that will keep you in great shape.
- Get plenty of sleep: This might not always be possible, but do the best you can.
- Exercise: This one is also challenging but if you have a minute when you get out of the van, go for a quick jog around the block. If you’re staying at a hotel, try hitting the fitness center before getting back on the road.
- Don’t skip meals: After being in a van with the same five people day after day, you don’t need anything else to make you cranky!
- Take hand sanitizer with you: With the stress of touring, your immune system is probably already down. Touching unclean surfaces will just put you at a higher risk of getting sick. That’s why it’s important to wash your hands often and take a bottle of hand sanitizer for when you can’t get to a sink.
Where do musicians sleep on tour?
As mentioned previously, getting enough sleep is vital when you’re out on tour. But let’s face it; sleeping in unusual surroundings does not always make for the best sleep practices.
If musicians are lucky, they will have a comfy, private hotel room to sleep in. Lower budget musicians may be offered accommodations by local bands or fans or even the venue. In a worst-case scenario, they will have to sleep on the bus or van.
How do musicians travel on tour?
A musician’s means of travel also depends on their financial situation. Established musicians will tour on buses and planes. Depending on how elaborate their stage set is, they may need several vehicles to fit all their personnel and equipment.
If you don’t have the budget for a bus or plane, you’ll probably end up touring in your uncle’s broken-down van.
How long is a tour?
A tour varies in length. A band that’s just starting may go on the road a few weeks at a time, or they may even do a short string of overnight dates.
This is a smart move. As they begin gaining a following in each city, they can branch out a little more each time. They also don’t have to worry about losing a lot of money, which happens if a smaller band goes out on tour for months.
More established acts may go out for months or years at a time. With a guarantee of making money, it really depends on what their management thinks is the best move for them to make. Their personal preference and family situation may also come into play in determining how long they stay on the road.
While the low budget musician typically has whatever is available, the high budget musician is able to eat whatever they want. It is incredibly important to remain healthy while on tour, so be sure to pack plenty of energy-boosting healthy snacks that won’t cause burnout later. Regardless of what budget you are at, staying healthy and having non-perishable snacks can be a major difference-maker.