Traveling with a guitar is not easy, but EVERY bit worth it. Here are some tips to get you started with guitar traveling and (hopefully) inspire you to lug your guitar onto planes, buses, trains, taxis, motorbikes, boats and Tuk-Tuks.
1. Buy a travel guitar.
While traveling, your guitar will certainly get knocked, dropped, tossed and tumbled. Therefore, unless you’re moving to another country, there’s no reason to lug along your most beautiful, beloved guitar. Relinquish the worry through purchasing a low-end guitar dedicated for travel: think Craigslist, think cheap.
2. Taking guitars on planes.
Planes are the grand musical-instrument mystery: Will I have to check it? Will I have to pay extra? Will it shatter into a thousand pieces? It’s common – and healthy – to worry about bringing your guitar on a plane, but I can say that my experience has nearly always been positive. The following airlines have allowed me to carry my guitar into the cabin with no extra fee: American Airlines, British Airways, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and AirAsia. China Airlines forced me to check my guitar (with no extra fee) for an international flight, and my worst experience occurred when the infamously charge-crazy Ryanair forced me to check my guitar and pay an unexpected 50 Euro fee. However, if you operate under the assumption that you’ll be able to carry your guitar into the cabin, you’ll rarely be disappointed.
3. Why it’s worth it.
Here are a few ways I’ve used my guitar on the road that have made the hindrance of carrying a guitar from city to city every bit worth the reward:
- Giving intimate ‘thank-you’ concerts to those who graciously host me
- For comfort when I feel alone or anxious
- Busking on the street to make a bit of beer or hostel money (great for Europe, especially Ireland)
- Writing new songs under the inspiration of the road
- Jamming with fellow travelers
- Playing casually at train stations and random city benches (often leading to memorable conversations with curious strangers)
4. Just go for it.
Don’t lose sleep over the external judgement that comes with being that guy/girl who travels with a guitar. Sure, people will think you’re crazy, sure, it’ll be a lot of effort to lug around and sure, you’ll certainly look like a fool sometimes, but if you’re considering traveling with a guitar you should just go for it! Judgement and hindrance aside, many of my most intimate and memorable moments traveling have come with a guitar in my hands.
Photos: Taylor Winchell
Do you travel with a musical instrument? Share with us in the comments.