how to travel with your guitar

EXPLAINED: How To Travel With Your Guitar

It’s not always easy to take your guitar on a trip with you. You might need to deal with airline baggage fees, or packing and unpacking it in your hotel. We have put together some strategies for making the process smoother.

In addition, we offer some useful tips that will help you handle any unavoidable damage when traveling with guitars.

Should You Travel With A Guitar?

Yes. A guitar is a unique instrument that is easy to take around the world. It’s fun to play wherever you go, so it’s a great way to connect with people from different cultures.

What Is The Best Way To Travel With A Guitar?

It is recommended that you take a case to store your guitar, and get a guitar bag so that you can carry it on the plane. There are many different guitar cases on the market that will suit various styles of guitars.

The most important thing is to secure your instrument well when in transit, because airlines treat guitars as delicate instruments. Most of the time, they will require you to box it up in a flimsy cardboard box with no protection whatsoever (it might say “aircraft approved” on it).

How to Pack And Prepare A Guitar For Travel

You will need to pick the right case or bag for your guitar. The variety of options available allows you to find a case that will protect your instrument and fit your budget.

Guitars are sensitive to changes in temperature, so be sure that they are stored at room temperature before and during travel.

Check with airline staff if you have questions about specific requirements or restrictions for baggage on the aircraft you’re taking. Most major airlines require a “checked” baggage fee.

You should also consider guitar cases that can be carried as carry-on luggage. The best way to do this is to get a soft case with wheels and foam dividers. Cases include:

Soft cases with or without wheels, foam surround dividers, straps, and padding for instrument protection are available at most music stores.

A hard shell case with wheels is also fine, but it will take up more room than a soft case. Be sure to place your guitar in another bag inside the guitar case, so that it doesn’t damage the case. Fender recommends placing your guitar in a plastic molded case like a flight case or gig bag. When packing your guitar for travel, be sure to consider that you will need to check your instrument as baggage on an aircraft. You may want to avoid taking any expensive or irreplaceable equipment. Case and chain locks aren’t recommended for guitar travel because they can possibly damage your instrument.

To protect the finish of your guitar, be sure to pack it in a soft case, gig bag or foam-covered hard case. If you take a hard shell case with you, cover the outside of the case when you pack it so that dirt and scratches don’t get on the outside.

How To Safely Travel With A Guitar Without A Case

There are several ways you can travel with a guitar without a case, but you need to be very careful. In many cases, the guitar is more susceptible to damage than when protected by a case.

If you plan to travel with an acoustic guitar without a case, some airlines allow you to carry it on board if it’s in a gig bag.

How Much Space Do I Need?

You can travel easily with a small acoustic guitar, such as a dreadnought or an archtop electric guitar. If you’re checking bags, they will be too big for most carriers unless you’re willing to pay for priority service.

Should I Loosen Guitar Strings While Traveling?

Yes.  Strings expand when they are stretched, and this changes the tension in the guitar. If you don’t want to put on a new set of strings, this is a good time to loosen the neck and bridge saddles so that the strings aren’t as tight.

You can also loosen all of the strings a bit, then retune them after you arrive at your destination. This is safer than not removing any string slack at all.

Are Regular Guitar Cases Safe To Travel With?

A regular guitar case can be used for packing your guitar when traveling. However, if you are flying, you should check with the airline first to make sure that your guitar will travel safely in this way. The best way is to get a hardshell case, which can take the bumps and vibrations of airline travel quite well. However, if you don’t have one and don’t want to buy one, it’s worth asking the airline or calling to find out more about their rules for traveling with guitars.

Can I Travel On A Train With A Guitar?

Yes, you can travel with a guitar on a train.  If you have a hard case, you can simply carry it with you as luggage. If not, you can take your guitar with you (without a case) onto the train and strap it in place.

What Else Should I Do When Traveling With A Guitar?

When traveling by car or van, make sure your guitar is securely strapped in a seat or on an amplifier rack inside. Also, be sure that your amplifier is secure while traveling. Note that guitars are sometimes stolen from parked cars and public places because people leave them unattended. That’s why it’s best to secure your guitar when you leave it outside.

The Bottom Line

Traveling with a guitar is a breeze as long as you are aware of the common issues that can arise. Remember that if you want to travel with more than one guitar, you’ll need to get a larger hard case or an airline case. The ideal way to travel with your instrument is in its original hard shell case or guitar flight case, but if you don’t have one, then make sure to pack it securely in another padded bag.