When you’re travelling, make space for a ukulele in your luggage.

Whether you’re going on holiday, visiting family, or travelling for business, a ukulele will add opportunities for fun to your travels.

If you leave it behind, you’ll miss out on the chance to strum while you’re relaxed and out of your everyday routines.

4 reasons to pack a ukulele

  1. You’ll be open to fun while you’re in holiday mode
  2. You’ll keep in practice.
  3. You can seize chances to share music with family and friends.
  4. If parts of the trip are stressful, making music is a great way to de-stress and shift emotions.

3 tips for packing a ukulele

  1. If your ukulele has a hard case, you can check it as luggage. Most airlines have a system for checking semi-fragile items like guitars. However, unless you have a lavish luggage entitlement, this may be the most expensive option.
  2. Pack the ukulele in its soft case or box, in your suitcase. This is a great option. I’ve packed ukuleles in suitcases many times, and they’ve always arrived in good condition. Ukuleles are pretty robust. Wrap your ukulele with soft items, like jeans, dressing gown or swimming towel, to add an extra layer of protection.
  3. Slip the ukulele into a backpack and carry it onto the plane. The tuning pegs may stick out of the bag, but that doesn’t matter, as long as it’s within the airline’s hand luggage dimensions. Just make sure you remember to take the ukulele out of the overhead locker when you disembark.
Ukulele in suitcase

Above: a ukulele packs easily in a suitcase.

Buy a ukulele on the trip

Instead of packing a ukulele, plan to buy yourself a new ukulele while you’re away. Research local music shops ahead of your trip. This option works well if you have plenty of time for shopping.

Or, before you leave on your trip, order a new ukulele to be delivered to your destination, ready to play when you arrive.

Travel ukuleles

Some players get a special ukulele to take travelling.

Travel ukulele models are thin bodied. They fit in much narrower spaces than normal ukuleles.

My friend Lois has a set of two travel ukuleles, which she takes along when visiting family. She always has a spare ukulele to make music with her grandchildren.

The two ukuleles nestle in a double bag, which is the same dimensions as one normal sized ukulele.

Travel ukuleles are usually fairly good quality instruments. They’re not budget ukuleles.

My Kala tenor ukulele is a travel model.

Here’s a Ukulele Magazine article with more about travel ukuleles.

Ukulele with backpack

Above: a ukulele fits into a backpack

Pack a Dolphin

Another great travel ukulele option is to buy a cheaper ukulele to take on your trip, and leave your best one at home.

Joy didn’t want to take her precious concert ukulele on her overseas travels. She was worried it might get damaged, lost or stolen. So she bought a Makala Dolphin to take along in her suitcase. It was inexpensive and she knew she wouldn’t worry about anything happening to it.

Joy told me that she had a great trip, with plenty of music on the side.

Makala’s Waterman model is great for beach or boat holidays because it’s plastic. But Dolphins are pretty water-resistant too. I know one that even survived being sprayed with sanitizer. (However, I don’t recommend using sanitizer on ukuleles or any other musical instruments. It damages the varnish.)

Silent ukuleles?

Silent ukuleles were developed to be played in hotel rooms, without making any noise. I’ve seen these for sale in the past, but I don’t know if they’re currently on the market.

I wouldn’t bother hunting for a silent ukulele. Ukuleles aren’t very loud instruments. A ukulele is much quieter than a guitar.

If you don’t feel comfortable strumming in a hotel room, take your ukulele outside and play in a park.

Cars and campervans

If your trip involves driving, one or two ukuleles can fit easily into a car or campervan.

I know some campervan owners who’ve downsized from guitar to ukulele, because the ukulele takes up less space.

Also, you can strum a ukulele in a car while someone else is driving.  Sharing songs is a great way to break up a long car trip.

Take your music

Don’t forget to take the sheet music for some of your favourite songs, to play while you’re away.

I usually pack a plastic folder with a dozen (or more) song sheets.

Some people keep their ukulele song charts on an iPad, so they can be paper-free.

The song list will depend on the purpose of the trip. If you’re visiting young grandchildren, take kids’ songs. If it’s older family members, take favourites that you know they’ll like. If you’re visiting friends, pick some songs that you’ll have in common.

Ukuleles symbolize holiday fun. Lazing on a beach, chilling out and strumming.

So, when you go on holiday, take a ukulele!

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