Traveling with your Ukulele.
All Packed? got your Favorite Uke? Great, lets go!
Well, actually, wait a minute. So how are you travling? and to where?. A couple of things to consider when taking your Ukulele on Vacation. If you are flying, you have a couple options. Check it as baggage, or carry it on. Now if you check it as baggage, then size is not a problem, but you had better have a sturdy, well fitting, hard sided case for it. I am talking about a HARD case. One made of wood or strong plastic. One you would not think twice about dropping on a hard floor or sitting on. Because it is going to be not only dropped and tossed around quite a bit, but may have several hundred pounds of luggage bouncing around on top of it for the duration of the flight. Sure, we like to think that the handlers would be careful, seeing that it is an expensive musical instrument, but more than likely, it will be cared for the same as any other luggage, which means tossed, dropped, and piled on. So, if your case is up to the challenge, well, it is your choice. Personally, I do not check it unless it is packed in its case inside my luggage, surrounded by a soft layer of clothing and a outer shell.
The TSA advises: "If you have an instrument in your checked baggage, include short written instructions, where a security officer will notice them, for handling and repacking your instrument. Make sure these instructions are very clear and understandable to someone with no musical background."
I will most often carry it on. Now, some airlines will let you get away with an instrument that is a little larger then the carry on guide, but some will not. So check with your airline first. It is easy to assume it will fit, But when it doesn't, and they do make you check it, you will regret having it in a gig-bag. Most Airlines have published guides for carry on size. I have carried a concert size without a problem, but it will usually need to be in a gig bag. A concert size hard case will not always fit in the overhead or under the seat. I usually put it carefully under the seat for take off, then move it to my lap for the flight. Plus, if you carry it with you, you can strum in the terminal while you wait. But, before you even get to the terminal, look through your case or gigbag, and make sure you remove any tools, like your little pocket knife, scissors, screwdrivers, etc. Put them in your checked bag, or leave them at home. otherwise it will get taken at security
Going by Bus or train? same goes, as far as treating it like luggage. Carry it with you. You'll be glad you did!
Obviously, you will be in control of the treatment, so the type of case is up to you. But here are a few things to consider. Even if it is comfortable to you in the car, a black case in the back seat in the sun, (yes, even through a window) can get pretty hot inside. Make sure it is covered with a light colored towel or blanket. If you are traveling, and you stop to eat or sight see or whatever, take it with you. A car can get real hot, real fast, and heat does nasty things to Ukuleles. In fact, even in the winter, if it is sunny, the car is act like a green house.
So where are you going?
For how long?
What is the weather like?
Another thing that plays havoc on Ukuleles is rapid humidity changes. If you are going somewhere dry, take a hard case and a case humidifier, like a "Dampit". Keep the Ukulele in it's case when you are not playing. Remember, Cold climates can be just as dry, if not more so, than hot climates. If you find yourself in a situation where you need a humidifier, but can not get one, what you can do is take a ziplock bag, and poke a bunch of little holes in it with a pin or something small and sharp. Inside that, put a damp, but not wet, paper towel. This will work as an emergency temporary humidifier. Also, if you go somewhere humid, you don't need a humidifier obviously, but keep the uke in its case when not playing, and do the same for a while when you get home to let it acclimate back again.
It is also a good idea to slack the strings a bit if you are not going to play it while traveling. Rapid Changes in temperature and humidity can cause strings to shrink, sometimes to the point where they tear off the bridge.
Don't forget to bring an extra set of strings, and a small multi tool, like a swiss army knife. But again, if you are flying, obviously you will have pack it separately in your checked bags.
Next,5. Ukulele do's and dont's
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