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Travel on a budget: notes and a pic

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by DConnell, Nov 16, 2010.

  1. DConnell


    Aug 10, 2010
    Al Ain
    Recently I relocated, flying across eight time zones, making a transfer in London, bringing a bass and an electric guitar with me. I thought I'd share my packing techniques, in case anyone else finds themselves needing to travel without a heavy-duty flight case. The way I packed these together also meant that I paid a single baggage fee for two instruments.

    I've used this packing style with the bass more than once, and I’ve become relatively unworried about baggage-handler damage. It’s my feeling that anything that would damage an instrument with this packing would probably damage an instrument in a flight case. However, my recent trip was the first packing two instruments, so I was getting into new territory to some degree.

    All together, I packed a Jazz bass, a Godin SD electric guitar, two cables, strings, an effects pedal, the tools I usually carry in a guitar case, two straps, an iMic, and other odds and ends. Neither instrument has a cash value, nor are they shipped often enough, to justify the cost of a flight case.

    For the bass I already had a regular cheap hard case, with a custom interior I made from styrofoam and fun-fur. The fit is very snug and secure. The void behind the headstock was filled with a small towel.

    With the instruments and everything else in the cases, the bass case was wrapped in a blanket, secured with packing cling wrap.

    The guitar came with a great soft case, but I didn’t have faith in that on its own, so I bought a cheap hard case. The fit of the guitar in this case wasn’t great, so I used more small towels to improve the fit, to ensure even pressure over the back of the neck, and again the void behind the headstock was filled.

    The guitar had more towels secured around the sides of the case, and the soft case was attached to one side of the hard case to act as a cushion.

    The two cases were secured together with more cling wrap, and then dropped into a cardboard bicycle box.

    The fit inside the bike box was poor, but I was okay with that. In the past I’ve done this with only the bass, and the fit in those instances was quite good. This time, the width of the two cases was double that of the box; I let the sides of the box bow out. The height of the cases was about two-thirds that of the box, and I left that space empty. The length is nearly perfect and keeps things snug in the big box. The intention of the box was to absorb the inevitable bumping and banging, so not much effort was put into the cardboard apart from taping it closed; it looked like crap when brought to the airport.

    All together, everything weighed in at about 31 kg, which is 1 kg under the maximum for British Airways, and the dimensions were well within limits.

    My costs were for the cheap guitar case, the cling wrap, and packing tape. Most bike shops will happily give away boxes. All together it was much less than a flight case for one instrument.

    At the final destination, as expected, the cardboard box was dirty, crushed and torn. Inside, everything arrived in perfect condition.

    Photo: the two instruments, packed, padded and wrapped, with the bike box they would go into.


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