Multi-Stop Travel With Your Bass – Part 2: Packing/Luggage/Bass

Double basses in flight cases

Photo by whichwould

Most people realize that there are special considerations when flying with your upright bass. These considerations are significantly expanded if your musical journey requires a series of planes, trains, and automobiles, before you arrive back at your home door.

With this in mind, I’d like to continue my discussion from last time by talking about some of the precautions I take with my packing/luggage.

The first rule of the day is to double up, in two different types of carriers. I don’t want to be caught without something I need for my performance, so I take extra precautions.

For example:

  1. I carry rosin in two separate places, my bow case and my bass case. A performance without rosin would be unfortunate.
  2. I carry two bows, in case one fails.
  3. I carry the bows separately from the bass. This way if the bass case is lost in transit, I still have my preferred bows.
  4. I carry two rockstops, one in my hand luggage and one in my bass case.
  5. I also carry two copies of any sheet music I may need, one hard copy and one electronic copy. If one fails, I have the other.
  6. I always carry a card and cash, in local currency. Mostly I don’t use cash, but there have been times where I had an unexpected charge
  7. and the cash came in handy.

Some additional items I consider when it comes to multi-stop travel with the bass:

  1. I pack as lightly as possible. Ideally one small backpack as a carry-on, my bow case as a “personal item”, and my bass case. I also make sure I can attach my bow case to the backpack, for those airlines that only allow one carry on and no personal item.
  2. For longer trips, I might have a second piece of luggage (in addition to the bass), but I like to avoid this if at all possible. The less I have to walk with, the better.
  3. When possible, I carry a wheel for my bass to help mitigate physical strain from local foot travel once I arrive in town.
  4. I carry, in small quantities, items that can help keep my clothing fresh and clean on the road. This is especially needed for tours of a week or more. Some dryer sheets, a small laundry soap, and Febreeze go a long way.

Finally, my bass has a removable neck for ease of travel and the case is light and easy to manage. This not only helps with most airline fees, and my physical labor during a tour, but having a removable neck reduces the potential for damage to the instrument. Although anything can happen through negligence, most damage to basses in transit occurs to the neck. Have the neck removed reduces the potential for damage to the instrument.

Next time, I’ll talk about a few special extras I use regarding my bass and carry-ons to ensure ease of travel and a stress-free performance once I arrive.

Dr. Donovan Stokes is on the faculty of Shenandoah University-Conservatory. Visit him online at and check out the Bass Coalition at

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