Traveling with Musical Instruments

Traveling with Musical Instruments

Every musician knows how frustrating it can be to travel with their musical instrument. Your instrument is your baby. It won’t suffice to simply check it into the bowels of a cargo hold being handled by people who just don’t care of have the tenderness you do. And often, we don’t know what we are allowed to bring on the planes. So, here are the things every musician must know about traveling with their musical instruments.

First and foremost, always check with your airline to see about their rules. Each carrier has it’s own regulations that fall under the TSA and U.S. Governments guidelines.

Brass Musical Instruments

Brass instruments are encouraged to be packed in the checked luggage. If you have an instrument that is being checked, be sure to include clear, written instructions on how to handle and repack the instrument. Assume the person reading it is a complete idiot. You don’t want to risk having them repack your instrument improperly. The TSA even recommends that the owner be present during the screening inspection to ensure that the musical instrument is repacked properly.

String Musical Instruments

String instruments can be checked as carry-on items, as long as they meet the airline regulations. Unfortunately, only one instrument can be carried on per person. The good news is that your instrument does not count as a personal item or a carry on. So, you still get those options. Just make sure your airline has the same understanding. As with checked instruments, you will want to be present with security screens your instrument. Be sure to also release the tension of your stringed instruments.


Additional tips on traveling with a musical instrument

Print out the airlines rules on musical instruments. Being prepared with these documents may help you get through if you end up with a grumpy gate attendant.

Insure your instrument. This is usually an idea most people overlook, but it’s likely not going to break your budget if you add insurance to your flight, or even if you add your instrument to your renters or homeowners insurance.

Buy an extra seat. Advice like this can be hard to swallow, so only use it if you have plenty of extra money or you are really concerned about your musical instruments.

Leave your instrument at home and buy or rent one when you get to your destination. Of course, if your instrument is like your baby, well then this won’t be possible. For the rest of you, consider saving yourself the headache and see if a local musician co-op or music store can help you out when you get to your destination.

Consider shipping your equipment. Sending your instrument in the mail ahead of your flight may be a better way to ensure it is packaged safely and insured appropriately.

If you’re headed overseas, don’t forget to bring your passport. You may have your instrument safely with you, but you won’t make it past the airport without the proper documentation. If you need your U.S. Passport right away, contact Fastport Passport. They have been securing passports in less than 24 hours for musicians for over ten years.

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