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Traveling with your instrument

In a land far, far away OR Traveling with your instrument

As young musicians, we are often confronted with the situation of carrying our instrument and its ability to play (mostly ourselves) to a location far, far away. As adventureous it may sound at the beginning: Traveling with your (oversize) instrument implies many, many obstacles, mostly unexpected ones. I want to share one of my very own experciences with you, which I wasn‘t able to anticipate.

T‘was a long time ago, when I was on a roadtrip with my music class to Rome. As all of us were musicians, we had an incredible time singing gregorian chorals in ancient crypts (omg, so nerdy ...) and playing songs like „time to say goodbye“ at the famous Spanish Stairs (where we actually made a lot of money with songs like that...). But everything has to end, so we decided to take a train from Rome to Munich, a nice trip of about ten hours, definitely affordable for a bunch of street musicians who shared a lack of good taste in their song selection.
And then it happened, totally unexpected, the train company double-booked our seats. And as we were almost the last ones to step into the train before its departure, our seats were taken by a horde of... yeah, let‘s say nice German people (I‘m allowed to say that :) ). One lead to another, my (fortunately) cheap guitar (an old Russian manufactured guitar my mum had already played) fell from the small bagage rack and broke into two very sad pieces.

That‘s my story, one might say it was my own fault, that I put my guitar into a small overhead bin in the corridor of the train, another one that it was the fault of the ticket company that messed up our booking, we‘ll never know, BUT: Be aware! Your instrument is in constant danger during a trip!

There are just some things you always should consider when you are traveling, especially with airlines:

Varying baggage regulations (some airlines allow small instruments like flutes and violins, some even guitars, and some different companies don‘t allow anything AT ALL)
Extra fees due to extra luggage (you might even have to buy another ticket for an additional seat)
Is your case up to the expectable challange?
Think about an insurance for your (valuable) instrument!
But then, prepare for a long struggle between you, your insurance company and the airline in case of damage.

Here is an interesting article by NBC that sums up the events surrounding the viral video of Dave Carrol and his guitar.



And as comparable incidents were accumulating, the „International Federation of Musicians“ launched a petition for „fair treatment for musicians traveling on planes with their instruments“, which can be found here (although it is already closed):

And if you are into legal texts, here is the result of the unified vox populis of musicians, the first proposal for a general admitted air travel regulation within the EU.

Now, I want YOU to share your experiences you made while travelling with your instrument, no matter which in particular or how you decided to travel!
So tell me, what experiences did you make traveling with your instrument? Which airlines, companies whatsoever do you recommend?