Don’t get sick on tour: always keep these five things in your travel bag

How to stay healhty on the road
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Touring presents obstacles to optimum health. Here’s how to stay healthy on the road.

I used to tour a lot. These days I travel a lot for music conferences.

They’re similar experiences. Both involve busy days, late nights, meeting loads of people, and some element of partying. It’s a recipe for illness if you’re not careful.

Usually I bring a handful of items that help me stay healthy. But for the last conference I attended I didn’t have them with me, and I came home with a fierce cough. Overconfidence in my immune system, I suppose. Never again!

5 simple things that will ward off sickness while on tour

These items that have helped me stay healthy-ish while traveling in the past can all be fit into a backpack, so there’s little excuse for not having them with you on tour, unless you really need that extra space for merch or something:

1. A portable humidifier

You never know how dry hotel rooms, venues, or whole regions of the world will be! And dry air can spell disaster for your sinuses and singing voice. So before you go to sleep at night, take out this little softball-sized humidifier and place it next to your bed, sleeping bag, whatever.

Some of these humidifiers are so small that you can actually use a store-bought plastic bottle as the water source.

2. Ayr saline nasal gel

I have no scientific basis for this statement; it’s anecdotal — but when I fly with Ayr, I never get sick. The same goes for when I’m amongst large groups of people in the dead of winter during flu season. I put a little saline gel in my nose, and (so my theory goes) it keeps my sinuses from getting dry while also adding a literal layer of protection against germs. Once you’re back in a private space, rinse out your nose and apply more gel.

Note: saline gel is different from nasal spray. It’s not a mist; it’s an actual gel. Another convenient use for Ayr is if you don’t have item #1 on the list, you can put some saline gel in your nose before bed to stay somewhat humidified.


Touring and conferences both come with unpredictable hours, getting pulled from one obligation to the next, unexpected conversations, and very little time for scheduled meals. This leaves you in a frenzy when a window opens up to actually eat, and then you want to stuff your face with Taco Bell or something equally wonderful and terrible.

LÄRABARs are perfect for travel because they have great ingredients, contain a bunch of protein, and they’re tiny. So if you have zero time for meals between waking up and 8pm, as can happen, you can snack on a few of these bars throughout the day so when you finally sit down to eat it’s not a festival of fast-food hedonism.

4. Running shoes

Sneakers. Tennies. Kicks.

Yeah, you look much cooler in those cowboy boots or slip-ons, but if you have an afternoon off on tour in San Francisco, aren’t you more likely to go for a long walk in Golden Gate Park if you have comfy, sporty, running shoes (or hiking boots)?

You’re certainly more likely to hit the hotel gym if you actually come prepared with gym shorts, shirt, and running shoes. So bring ’em. Exercise is important while touring, both for its direct benefits and the fact that it fills idle time with something other than drinking.

5. A good water bottle

A lot of hotels are “going green,” where containers for drinking water are hard to come by. A lot of gas stations charge $4 for a big bottle of water. Both these conditions mean you’re less likely to stay hydrated, and more likely to fuel yourself on beer, coffee, and 3am Mountain Dew.

So bring your own large, BPA-free water bottle. Fill it. Drink it. Repeat.

Bonus item: Earplugs. What? EARPLUGS!

They’re small. They’re important, because your ears are important. So is your sleep. You can where earplugs at loud shows and next to loud snorers. Custom-fitted earplugs are even better.

No earplugs? Ball up some toilet paper, tissue paper, or napkins and shove it in your ears. You might look a little strange, but it’s better than suffering from hearing loss. I actually do this any time I’m at a show and forgot my earplugs at home; there’s a way to wad the tissue or toilet paper up so it’s not obvious at all.

So — those are five things I’ve found extremely helpful in my quest to stay healthy on the road. What’s worked for you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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