Traveling with a violin

Rebekah Swain said: May 1, 2013
 2 posts

We’re going to be out of the country visiting family for nearly three weeks next month. Our son, age 5, has been making major progress over the last few months and we’ll be heading to a Suzuki Institute in July.

So we seem to have four choices…

  1. Rent a violin in the UK….
    The positives—We’d have a violin to keep up practice during vacation and there’s no risk of damage to our instrument.
    The negatives—it wouldn’t be HIS violin, and his stickers, etc wouldn’t be in place. Not to mention, finding a 1/10 violin in the UK has proven to be a big challenge, and the few I’ve found are available for a minimum of 3-12 months.

  2. Carry the violin with us…
    The positives—We’d have HIS violin, practices kept up, no loss in progress
    The negatives—I’m traveling with a 5 year old and a 2 year old, stroller, carseats, and I’ll be coming home on my own. The thought of carrying the violin scares me—I’m afraid it’s going to get beaten up.

  3. Ship the violin…
    The positives—We’d have HIS violin, practices kept up, no loss in progress. And I don’t have to carry it.
    The negatives—Will it make it? Will it be destroyed? How much is that going to cost me?

  4. Leave it at home…
    The positives—No risk to the violin, no cost, no stress of practicing on vacation.
    The negatives—Losing progress, frustration when we come back, son will probably be mad that we didn’t bring it, no playing for the relatives.

Have any of you faced this dilemma? What did you do? What would you recommend I do?

Heather Reichgott said: May 2, 2013
Heather ReichgottPiano
South Hadley, MA
96 posts

I am married to a violinist. We usually travel with the violin. We have one child and we have had one or two trips where we decided to leave the violin at home since there were too many child-related things to carry and the child was too young to carry anything herself.

If the kids are 5 and 2 you have some flexibility. The 5-year-old can definitely carry his own violin and maybe also a small bag. Be sure to get/rent a hard case if you don’t have one already (not cardboard), and if you can find some sort of large tag or sticker that says “FRAGILE,” do it. The violin goes as carry-on luggage in the overhead bin. Be prepared to do your best classical music prima donna act if anyone tries to shove a big roller bag in front of (or on top of!!!) it. This is where the FRAGILE tag comes in handy. Check as much luggage as you can to save the headaches getting around airport(s). Check the carseats if the kids are big enough to sit in an airplane seat (5-year-old at least). Gate check is a wonderful invention for strollers. Car seats and strollers will still serve their functions if they get banged around by baggage handlers in transit; the violin needs to be lovingly carried by its player.

Mary said: May 2, 2013
 39 posts

We’ve flown domestically and internationally with my child’s violin ever since he was five. He usually carried his own violin using the shoulder straps backpack style as well as managed a small backpack on wheels that served as his carry on bag. My son always loved that responsibility and especially looked forward to packing up his own “suitcase” and rolling it himself. We did have to give him a lot of reminders when he was young but he was pretty responsible. I’d suggest getting your child used to carrying his own violin now and a rolling bag so that you would only need to carry a bag for yourself and your 2 year-old.

I would echo the comment to check the carseats so that you don’t have to fuss with those on the flight. You can get a good bag especially used for carrying the carseats. Most airlines don’t charge for carseats so make sure that you’re not charged.

Most of all give yourself a lot of time so that you don’t feel rushed and can maneuver through the airport slowly and carefully when needed.

Rebekah Swain said: May 3, 2013
 2 posts

Thanks for the replies!

Checking the car seats is not an option.  We use them on board.  Our five year old is not big enough for a lap belt (not yet 40 pounds) and besides, we want the car seats in usable condition at our destination.  

It sounds as if everyone agrees we should take the violin though, and the hard shell case is an excellent suggestion.  Can anyone recommend a case or online shop that carries hard shells for a 1/10 violin?


Edmund Sprunger said: May 3, 2013
Edmund SprungerTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Saint Louis, MO
97 posts

Check with the place you purchased the violin. Potters, for example, mails violins all the time. So does Robertson. Find out how they do it and what their recommendations are?

Edmund Sprunger

Phankao said: Nov 2, 2013
Phankao WanPiano, Viola, Violin
128 posts

We’ve travelled with our youngest boy’s 1/16 violin on flights around Asia and on long-haul flights to Europe (16-17 hour journeys) in the past 1.5yrs since he was 3 to 4yrs old. He would carry it on his back like a backpack. I’ve never put it on the baggage overhead bc not one of the flights we’ve gone on has ever complained about it being on the floor. Interestingly, we manage to fit the violin case wedged between the legs of the seat and the side-wall of the aircraft. So it’s very stable. I don’t bring the violin if we are only going for a 2 or 3 day trip though. We just simply take a break from practising.

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