If it hasn’t come yet, it will: the day you travel with your most priceless piece of equipment. The day you take that baby on a plane.

 

We’ve already posted about some good news—a change in airline rules that allows you to carry on your guitar case instead of checking it. Restrictions apply—because they always do, right?—but at least it’s a step.

 

Since keeping your guitar safe is why we’re here, we’re putting together ideas on traveling with your instrument. Here’s a few to chew on, and look for more to come.

Keep your itinerary simple…

It’s a matter of odds: the more hands get on your case, the more times it’s pulled off one conveyer belt and thrown onto another, the more likely something’s going to go wrong. Very wrong. Loss, damage, theft—it’s all bad. Even if the worst that happens is your instrument going on a solo tour for a day or two before coming home, that kind of delay can ruin a gig … or just make you sweat real bad.

 

So, look for nonstop flights when you can. Yeah, they can cost more, so if that’s not in your wallet—or if you aren’t blessed by having a big, hub airport nearby—look for direct flights, which will stop but won’t need you, or your guitar case, to get off.

… and keep it smart

Your right to bring your guitar case on board still isn’t a sure thing (see “restrictions apply”) since it’s still dependent on that bin space being available. So what do you do? We talked in the earlier post about paying for priority boarding, but you can also look for flights that are more likely to have available space.

 

In its Flying with a Musical Instrument tips, the DoT spells out guidelines: “Consider flying at an off-peak time such as Tuesday through Thursday, Saturday afternoon or evening, or Sunday morning.” Fewer passengers means less competition for the overhead bins.

 

But, “if you must fly on peak travel days, flights will often be less crowded midday and late in the evening.”

Get the right electric guitar case

You knew that was coming, right? But, seriously, if you’re flying with your guitar for the first time, or just looking to step up your game, take a look at how you’re stowing your instrument.

 

When we talked to musician and producer Peter Rydberg (our first horror story post), he mentioned buying a guitar flight case specifically to travel to Austin when he played SXSW (“It protected my baby,” he said. Sound familiar?). Sure enough, expecting your soft gig bag to pull double-duty as luggage will end badly.

 

Look for a rigid, but lightweight case with extra padding around the head, which is most vulnerable to damage. (Sure enough, we kept that in mind when coming up with the Hungate Gig Case.)

 

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