Travelling with your guitar can be a stressful process, but it doesn’t have to be. In this article, we cover everything you need to know about travelling with a guitar, from the type of case to invest in, to the option of luggage shipping. We have you covered!
What’s the airline policy for instruments?
Before you book your flight, it’s essential to read up on the airline’s policy for musical instruments. Some airlines will allow you to bring your guitar on board as cabin baggage. However, others will count it as checked hold luggage. There is more risk to your guitar if it is placed into the hold, so this is something to consider. Instead of going with the cheapest airline and flight offered, compare their musical instrument policies, as every airline will have their own unique rules.
Invest in a durable guitar case
The most important thing you need to do is to buy a durable guitar case. There are two options to choose from; hard case or soft case. A hard case is an obvious option for optimum protection. It will ensure that your item is held in place and protected from any knocks on the baggage carousel. Often supplied with internal padding and straps to secure your instrument, they’re usually the first choice for any budding musician. However, they do come with limitations.
Hard cases are often counted as checked baggage and getting a hard case onto a flight as cabin baggage can be tricky. You might have to book an extra seat to ensure that it won’t be placed into the hold. This makes it a more costly option. Soft cases are usually made from canvas or thick leather. This option does not protect the guitar as much as a hard case but will make it easier to bring into the cabin. The choice to make is yours, so it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of each option before investing in one.
Don’t forget to pad the case
No matter how sturdy your case may seem, don’t forget to pad it. You never know what might happen in transit. Invest in bubble wrap, cushioned padding and plenty of padded tissue paper. Have a quick scan and make sure there is nothing in the case which could move and damage your guitar. Also, if there is a strap in the case to secure the guitar, remember to use it! The last thing you want is it to be moving around whilst being transported.
Remember to loosen the strings
It’s recommended that before flying you loosen the strings of your guitar. During the flight, temperature and air pressure changes can put a strain on your strings which can lead to damage of the guitar’s neck. You don’t want to go through all the trouble of investing in a durable case and padding the guitar, only to forget to loosen the strings and have your guitar neck warp.
Fragile stickers can be a lifesaver
When in doubt, stick a fragile sticker on the side. You never can be too careful and if you are placing your guitar in the hold, this is a no-brainer. Airport attendants will realise that your item is fragile and will handle it with extra care. Alternatively, you can request for an airline fragile sticker when you check your item in before the flight, this version might carry more weight than one you bought off Amazon.
Take pictures of everything
If you are placing your guitar in the hold as checked luggage, remember to take photographs of your instrument before the flight. This is to protect yourself in case the worst happens, and it is damaged in transit. Take pictures of the case also and of the way you have packed your guitar to show that you have prepared the item thoroughly.
Be the first on the plane
So, you’ve researched and confirmed that the airline you are flying with, will allow you to take your guitar on board as cabin baggage, but now you have to ensure you get on the plane first. Planes only have the ability to store so many items in the cabin. Usually in every flight, some items will have to be placed in the hold. This is not something that you want to happen to your guitar, especially if you haven’t invested in a hard-protective case. If possible, plan ahead and book speedy boarding to ensure that you will be able to safely store your guitar in the cabin storage bin above your head. If you can’t afford to part with extra cash, then make sure you are one of the first passengers to board after speedy boarding.
Consider buying a travel guitar
If your guitar is your pride and joy and you are not travelling for a gig, then why not take a travel guitar? You’ll still be able to play the same smooth tunes. You’ll also be safe in the knowledge that your prized guitar is safe, free from any knocks or bangs. Travel guitars are compact and some even fold in half, making them a stress-free alternative to take abroad when travelling.
Travelling with a guitar can be a hassle, why not ship your guitar directly to your destination?
If you are wary of flying with your guitar and don’t want to pay the excessive fees for putting it in the hold, then you could also ship your guitar direct to your destination. Luggage shipping is a popular option and it doesn’t have to break the bank. There are many budget operators out there. My Baggage for example are a UK based company offering door to door shipping for musical instruments.