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Tips for international travel?


Silver Supporting Member
I've got some gigs in Japan coming up soon. I'm going to bring an electric guitar and maybe a pedal or two.

I'll probably check the pedals in luggage (just a BOSS tuner and SD-1). Should I (is it permissible to) bring batteries?

Should I check the guitar in luggage in its hard case? it's a telecaster. Or should I just carry on? I'm booked in steerage so I will probably be late to board the plane. Normally I carry on my guitar in a gig bag, but we're going to be on trains and busses too. i'd rather have the protection of a hard case.

Uh, what else do I need to know? I've been there before, just never with gear.

Also, trying to travel as light as possible.


Wannabe Shredder
Silver Supporting Member
Batteries need to be in your hand luggage. I'd just by a few 9V's over there.
A tele can withstand anything, I wouldn't be worried checking it in really.


Silver Supporting Member
When I fly, I always get a ticket where I can choose my seat, and I either grab a seat right at the back, or I pay the upgrade to "economy plus" which lets you board with the rich folks. If you're sitting in the back, you can whiz by the other folks where you'll be greeted by a bunch of empty overhead bins waiting for your guitar. Once the guitar's in the bin, it's not going in the hold.

If I'm traveling on trains and busses, I'm carrying the guitar with me, so I'd stick with the gig bag. These days I go one step further and take a Steinberger G series in one of the excellent Carvin headless gig bags, so it's even smaller than a Fender--almost tennis racquet sized. I've been able to stow it behind the last seat and the bulkhead on several occasions.

I've checked guitars in hard cases, but it was either a Calton (for an acoustic, internationally even) or a Fender in a gig bag inside an SKB keyboard case. When I got to my destination, I'd stow the SKB somewhere and just carry the gig bag around. I wouldn't check a guitar in a plain hard case on an international flight. In general, my concern with checking a guitar is more to do with theft than damage.

Yes, you can bring batteries.


I would never check a guitar in any 'normal' case. Period. I carried on a guitar and checked the case once. The case was mangled. Guitar is fine.


I've traveled a lot with guitars between Europe and the U.S., and rarely had any problem carrying on a guitar in a Mono gig bag. Occasionally, especially when traveling in coach, I'll take the neck off my telecaster and pack both pieces in my checked suitcase to eliminate any worries about not being able to carry it on.

Another alternative might be to not bring your guitar out, and buy a cool guitar in Japan to bring back with you!


I live in Japan and travel to the US once a year. I use a gig bag and loosen the strap so the head stock does not stick up over my head and carry it on the opposite side from where the ticketing agent will be. I have never had any problems. I also am always one of the last to board. Also there are always others boarding with guitars and I have never seen anyone else have problems.


Senior Member
If using a hard case, spray paint it pink or some crazy colors so it stands out. Thieves are less likely to steal items that stand out.

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