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Traveling With Your Instrument

Traveling with your instrument can be extremely stressful. Since 9/11, heightened security measures force us to be more detail-oriented when packing for a journey. If you are a musician (especially one who travels with tools), you have to be very conscientious about how you pack them. Here are some things to think about when you’re packing that bag:

1.) Any sharp objects should go in your luggage.
While this may seem obvious, you should double-check your carry-on bag and oboe/bassoon case for any stray objects such as razorblades or small scissors. While sometimes I have gotten through security while accidentally carrying a razorblade, on other occasions I haven’t been so lucky. While it’s not a big deal, and can easily be thrown away, it’s simply not worth the hassle of having to unpack your bags, open your oboe case, and (sometimes) have that awkward conversation with security about what you do for a living and why you need razorblades.

2.) Pack all sharpening equipment in your luggage.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to pack heavy. Very heavy (I’m a musician, a grad student, an avid reader, and a girl who loves her shoes, what can I say). When I’m worried about weight constraints (50 lbs maximum per bag), I will often put my sharpening stone and sharpening steel in my oboe bag. Sometimes it’s not a problem, sometimes it is. The sharpening stone shows up as a black block on the airport scanning machines, which usually warrants further investigation. My sharpening steel has never been a problem until today, when I was politely told that, although it isn’t a blade or sharp object, it IS a “tool longer than 7 inches”. Luckily, the nice supervisor let me keep it with me, provided that I didn’t “poke anyone with it”. I thanked him, but next time I may not be so lucky.

3.) Be polite.
It goes a long way. If your bag has to be searched, don’t get an attitude. Airport employees get enough of that. If you’re polite and courteous, you’ll be on your way sooner rather than later. Plus, being unfriendly and hostile could lead to an additional search, further delaying you. If airport security feels it necessary to search your instrument case, be friendly and helpful. Politely inform them that you are traveling with a delicate musical instrument and you would like to tell them how to open the case. If they manhandle your instrument, feel free to ask for a supervisor’s presence during the search.

4.) Your oboe CAN go in the overhead compartment, provided, of course, that nobody shoves their travel suitcase on top of it. For a long time, I flew with my oboe strictly at my feet, but I have found that it actually gets banged around less in the overhead space. Plus, this frees my feet up a little  If you’re worried about the instrument coming out of adjustment a bit during your travel, perhaps you should learn to do your own adjustments (we’ll tackle that in our next post!)

Have a great flight!

Melissa, Julie, and Lauren