If you play the piccolo often, you’re bound to travel with it at some point. When that happens, you need to know about some top travel tips for musicians.
That way, you can keep your piccolo safe from when you leave to when you get home. And you can enjoy the trip along the way.
1. Insure Your Piccolo
One of the first things you should do before traveling with your piccolo is to insure it. I have instrument insurance through Andersen, and as a National Flute Association (NFA) member, I get a discount.
You can insure all of your flutes, which I’d recommend doing. While you can add flutes to a homeowner’s or renter’s policy, it might not cover your instruments when you’re out of the house.
Paying a bit now for insurance can save you a lot of trouble if something happens to your piccolo. Then, you can get help replacing the instrument if necessary.
2. Take Note of the Details
You should also know the brand and model of piccolo you have as well as the serial number. Write those details down and take pictures of the different parts of your piccolo.
Doing that can help speed up the insurance process since you’ll have to provide proof before getting coverage. It will also help you know what to look for and what to tell others to look for if your piccolo gets lost.
Keep a copy of the details at home as well as on your phone. Then, if you lose your piccolo during your travels, you’ll have the records you need to start to look for it.
3. Keep a Copy of Your Receipt
When you buy a new piccolo, make sure to keep a copy of the receipt. If you’ve already bought one, go through your emails or your purse to find a record of the purchase.
You can also contact the store where you bought it to look for a copy. As with the general details, take a picture of the receipt, screenshot it, or scan it to your phone.
That way, you’ll be able to prove the instrument is yours. If you’re traveling by plane, you might need to show that proof if security agents ask to look at your piccolo.
4. Review the CITES Treaty
Especially if you plan on international travel, you should know about the CITES treaty. This treaty is an international agreement to protect endangered plants and animals.
And that can include certain piccolo woods. Consider the materials your piccolo is made of and if any of them fall under the protections of the treaty.
You might need more documentation to be able to travel with your piccolo. If you can’t travel with it, you may want to get a backup piccolo for your trips.
5. Get a Good Flute Bag
Another one of my top travel tips for piccolo players is to get a good flute bag. The right bag will have enough room for your piccolo as well as your flute if you travel with both instruments.
That way, you won’t have to store your piccolo loose in your suitcase or another carryon. It will be easier to grab your flute bag and take it out when you go through security.
You want to remove your instruments while going through security in case they need to be searched. Then, the rest of your bag may not be part of the search.
6. Keep Your Piccolo on Your Person
When at all possible, keep your piccolo with you. Especially if you’re traveling alone, don’t leave it anywhere out of your sight because it could get stolen or damaged.
If you’re driving, keep it in your car and take it with you during bathroom stops. On a plane, make sure you can put it under the seat in front of you so that you know where it is.
Now, if you’re traveling with someone you trust, you can leave the piccolo with them. However, they need to know how important it is to take good care of your instrument so that they can watch it.
7. Travel With Someone You Trust
Speaking of traveling with others, don’t just trust any travel partner with your piccolo. Being able to trust someone allows you to leave your luggage somewhere while you use the restroom, for example.
Ideally, they’d also be a musician and know why they need to protect your piccolo. But if they aren’t a musician, explain that they need to keep your piccolo right next to them while you’re gone.
I’ve traveled with family and friends, and I trust those people to watch my stuff. Whatever you do, don’t leave your stuff with a stranger, and tell your travel companions not to do that either.
8. Never Check Your Piccolo
When you’re going on a plane, do whatever you can to get your piccolo in the cabin with you. Don’t put it in your checked luggage because the cargo hold doesn’t have climate controls.
That means the wood could crack if you have a wood piccolo. Even if your piccolo is plastic or wood, it could still incur damage or get lost completely.
Most piccolos are small enough to go in a carryon or personal item. You shouldn’t have to take much out to make room for your instrument that costs a lot of money.
9. Schedule Maintenance for After Your Trip
You should also schedule professional piccolo maintenance after you get back from your trip. In case your piccolo gets damaged, you want to know you have an appointment to fix it.
Some repair technicians book weeks or months out, so book your visit accordingly. That way, you won’t have to wait that long after you get home for your piccolo to work again.
If possible, book the maintenance within driving distance. But if you have to ship the piccolo, make sure you send it somewhere that will know how to safely send it back to you.
10. Be Nice to Staff
On your trip, be nice to any staff you come into contact with. This can include the check-in desk at the airport, the TSA agents, gate and flight attendants, and hotel staff.
For one, being nice is just the right thing to do. But being nice can also increase the chances of getting things you want or need to protect your piccolo.
If you’re rude to the gate agent, they probably won’t let you board earlier to get your instruments in the cabin. But if you’re nice and explain the situation, they might be able to accommodate you.
11. Ask If You Can Open the Case
If a TSA agent needs to inspect your piccolo after going through security, it’s especially important to be nice. But I’d also suggest asking if you can be the one to open the case.
TSA agents don’t always have a ton of experience with instruments. They might not know which side of the case is up, so at least ask if you can set up the piccolo case correctly.
Then, you can reduce the chances of the case being opened upside down and your piccolo getting damaged. As always, be as nice as you can, and the TSA agents should understand.
12. Arrive Early
When traveling by plane or train, get to the airport or station extra early. This will give you plenty of time to get through security in case there’s a delay with your items or in general.
You’ll be able to explain that you have instruments with you. And you should have time to talk to the gate agent and ask if there’s any way to upgrade your boarding position if you’re near the back.
The earlier you get on the plane, the more overhead bin space there will be. Of course, I said to put your piccolo under the seat, but you can also get other instruments you have on the plane with you.
13. Pay for Early Boarding
One of the top travel tips to use when booking a flight is to pay for early boarding. It may seem expensive, but it can be worth the peace of mind knowing that your piccolo will go in the cabin.
The way to get early boarding can vary between airlines. For example, Southwest offers Early Bird Check-In where they’ll automatically check in for you. I did that a few years ago and got to be one of the first 30 or so people to board.
If you choose an airline that boards by class or seat, consider the seat that can get you on early. Then, you’ll be able to choose a seat with an early boarding slot.
14. Pause Housekeeping Services
If you’re staying in a hotel, ask the front desk for no housekeeping during your stay. You can also place the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door to remind employees not to enter.
Of course, housekeeping isn’t as common with the pandemic. But the fewer people that go in your hotel room, the safer your instruments will be if you need to leave them behind while you go get food or something.
I’d also recommend avoiding AirBnbs and VRBO homes. The owners might have a key, and I’ve heard that a lot of them have cameras, so they might know you have valuables they could get to.
15. Ask for a Safe
If you want to be extra careful, another of the top travel tips is to ask the hotel front desk if you can get a safe for your room. Most safes should be big enough to hold your piccolo.
That way, you can leave it behind in your room and still get some housekeeping services. You can get the code so that you can access your instrument.
Just remember to check your safe before you leave the room at the end of your trip. You don’t want to leave your piccolo behind because you were trying to protect it.
Is It Safe to Travel With a Piccolo?
It is safe to travel with a piccolo as long as you take the right precautions. I used the previous top travel tips on a plane as well as in a hotel and while driving.
Knock on wood, I haven’t had any problems traveling with my piccolo or flute. There’s always a risk when traveling with flutes, but you can mitigate that risk with bit of planning.
Should You Travel With Your Good Piccolo?
If you’re traveling because you have a performance on piccolo, I’d recommend bring your good model. But when you’re traveling on vacation and want to practice, bring a backup.
Then, you can still play piccolo during your downtime. However, you won’t have to worry as much about it incurring damage on your travels.
Can You Travel With Multiple Piccolos?
I don’t see why you can’t travel with more than one piccolo. If you bring multiple models, you’ll need to be even more careful about keeping them both safe.
Will You Follow These Top Travel Tips for Piccolo Players?
As a piccolo player, you may need to travel with your instrument. But before you do, make sure to follow some top travel tips to make sure your keep your flutes safe.
If you want to learn more about life as a piccolo player, head to the resources page.