Cultivate non-touring friends. Having outside interests is a great way to become part of a different sort of community back home and guards against loneliness at any stage of life. And while it’s common to feel that we don’t have anything in common with old friends from our pre-touring days, if there’s a mutual liking for one another, does that really matter?
Foster animals. Without a non-touring partner back home it’s almost impossible to have an animal share your life on a permanent basis, which is a shame because an animal around the house has been shown to be great news for both mental and physical health and preventing loneliness.
Fostering can be a wonderful way to have a dog or cat in your life when you’re home and means you do something really good for an animal in need. Most adoption centers take on foster cares, and generally vet bills are paid, meaning that you just supply food and love.
Have an exit strategy. Maybe you want to continue touring for as long as possible; maybe you want to take a long retirement in one place after a life of travelling; maybe something totally different appeals. Whatever the goal, it’s smart to think about how you’d like your later life to look.
Can a hobby turn into an income-producing skill? Would you like to take an open university course for an entirely unrelated job while you continue to make income on tour? Could you be a teacher or mentor to up and coming crew? Do you have transferable skills that could serve you in a different industry? Would your experience be valuable to an equipment manufacturer or rental company? There are many alternative futures available.
Talk, listen and be there for each other. There have been too many suicides among our fellow roadcrew who have tragically found themselves in despair at their circumstances. Touring might be fun when things are going well, but an all-consuming lifestyle like ours can lead to identifying with our jobs so heavily that we don’t know who we are when we’re no longer “that.”
This, coupled with a lack of any sort of home life after being used to the ready-made community of the road, can have a terrible impact. Awareness of the issues that we might face and compassion towards those who are struggling does seem to be increasing, and that’s a great thing. We’re finally moving out of a culture that pretended this problem doesn’t exist – where we just acted like everything was fine until it very obviously wasn’t.
We can all help each other by being vigilant when it comes to mental health – both our own and that of our friends and colleagues – by doing things such as being observant of unusual or excessive behavour such as frequent angry outbursts and getting drunk/high every night and/or during the work day; asking how someone’s doing; being available to just listen if someone wants to talk (and opening up that possibility to them, because they probably won’t ask); and reaching out to former tour mates who you haven’t seen in a while.
All of this has the potential of making a tiny but crucial difference to someone’s outlook. Simply knowing that we’re not alone can save lives, especially when we come to the end of the road.