Holiday Gear Part 4: Traveling

Traveling with your instrument is a hassle, but some of us can’t part with our guitars for more than a few days. Here are some things to consider when traveling with an instrument.

Get a Hard Case

If you don’t have a hard case, purchasing one for travel is probably a good idea. While they are bulky, they protect your instrument and can handle rough treatment. If you’re piling into a van for a road trip over the holidays, get a hard case and ensure your guitar is protected.

Road Trips

If you are taking your guitar on the road, having a hard case will help protect it. However, be sure that once you reach your destination (or hotels in between) you do not leave it in a car for extended periods of time or overnight. This will prevent it from exposure to temperature and humidity changes that can cause a guitar’s neck to become warped or damaged. This is really a general rule not reserved for travel — do not leave your instrument in a car or otherwise exposed to the elements for extended periods of time.

Flying With Your Instrument

If you plan on bringing a guitar on an airplane, do not treat it as a checked bag. Instead, try to bring your guitar on board the main cabin of an aircraft and stow it in an overhead compartment or closet. Here’s why:

Two things that guitars really don’t like are rapid changes in temperature and pressure. Two things that airplanes are really good at: exposing your guitar to rapid changes in temperature and pressure. The cabin of an aircraft is pressurized, so keeping your instrument as a carry-on only exposes it to minimal changes in air pressure and little to no change in temperature. However, the storage compartment underneath an airplane is not pressurized and temperature is not controlled.

The changes in air pressure from the ground to 30,000+ feet coupled with rapid temperature changes can wreak havoc on your instrument (air temperature at 30,000 feet can reach -30 degrees Fahrenheit or below). If you are forced to check your guitar, be sure to put it in a hard case and loosen your strings. This will minimize travel wear and tear and protect it from careless baggage handlers.

Indeed the main thing to consider when traveling with your instrument is protecting it. A hard case is always a good idea (my personal favorite is the Road Runner Polyfoam acoustic guitar case for its light weight and strength). When flying, keep your guitar with you on board the aircraft to minimize its exposure to extreme elements, and when driving, do not leave it in your vehicle overnight or when you are not in it. That’s all for our series on holiday gear. Happy Holidays, and rock on— wherever your travels take you.