When you’re a traveling musician, it isn’t quite the same as being an ordinary tourist or traveler. Some of the details are different, and that alters the experience. For one thing, your itinerary is much less flexible, and when you say you have to be there at a particular time, there is no room for negotiation.
One thing that remains consistent is that there are some places where travel is easier. There are also some places where you’d rather not go back if you can manage it. Some of the considerations are different, though.
With these in mind, these are some of my favorite places to travel as a musician, and one I would not go back to if I had the choice.
Switzerland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and it shows. The hospitality is some of the best on the planet, and there is always great pay for great music. The transit makes getting around easy, and even a little fun and the people are friendly.
Vietnam is a terrible place. The war kind of killed the artistic scene, which has only barely begun to recover since. The pay is mediocre at best, and the hospitality is rough around the edges – a contrast that is sharp next to most Asian countries. Getting around is also flat-out hard.
Belgium is great! They love music, the people are friendly, and know how to have fun. The most difficult part of it is getting a foot in the door. Once you have an in, though, it’s smooth sailing. The pay isn’t as good as in Switzerland, but the crowds have the same energy and passion.
Finally, there’s Ireland. The accent can be odd to some ears, but the people are kind and have great character. People get drunk, but it’s the fun kind of drunk. The pay is decent, but the travel is easier on you because there’s never a long distance from point to point. The crowds love their live music.