Traveling with an instrument, be it for your school band, going on tour, or simply moving, presents its challenges. Follow these five tips to get you and your instrument safely to your destination.
Invest in a good case
When traveling with your instrument, the number one piece of advice is to invest in a good, high-quality case. The case is your number one line of defense from damage and should be a hard, sturdy case with a lock. Today’s cases aren’t the cases of the past: They are stronger, lighter, well-insulated, and built with weatherproof materials while including space for accessories.
Know your rights if traveling by plane
When traveling by plane with your instrument, know your rights.
When possible, select direct flights to your destination. This will reduce the times your instrument is handled at customs and ensures that it’s kept with you. Never submit your instrument to a baggage check, as it can be easily mishandled. Thanks to a recently passed law by the U.S. Department of Transportation, airlines must allow small instruments to board aircraft as a carry-on like any other piece of luggage. For larger instruments like cellos, the line may allow you to purchase another seat for your instrument. Before choosing an airline, always review their rules regarding travel with an instrument.
Photograph everything you’re bringing with you, so you have proof of your instruments and accessories condition and what is inside the case. This will help give you peace of mind and make it easier to file a claim if needed.
It’s also good to put plenty of red “Fragile” stickers on the case!
Get instrument insurance
Health, car, home… there are many different insurances we can purchase to help cover us in an accident. But did you know you can also get instrument insurance? This type of insurance is usually an optional choice when purchasing home insurance and covers things like damage and theft. There are also specific insurance companies that specifically deal with musical instrument insurance.
Prepare your instrument
Yes, you do have to prepare your instrument for travel! For example, for stringed instruments, the strings must be loosened to protect them and the neck of the instrument from warping during temperature changes. If there are loose spaces in the case, pack them with soft materials like socks.
Be aware of your surroundings
It seems like common sense, but it’s advice worth repeating. Follow that gut instinct if you’re not comfortable going into an area that feels “off.” When unpacking, make sure the area is well-lit, active, and not isolated. Never leave your gear unattended. Whether traveling locally or out of state, keep your equipment concealed as best you can when if you must leave the vehicle to help prevent theft.