1. Before packing, make sure you call the airline you are flying to check how many bags you are allowed to check under and how many carry-ons you are allowed to take on the plane with you. This can save a lot of frustration at the airport.
2. Check to see how many hours prior to your flight you should be at the airport. Mac, my manager, and I have experienced showing up at the airport at least 2 hours early to find the security line going all the way out the door. These days, especially with the increased security, plan on being as early as possible to avoid missing a flight.
3. Make sure, during an international flight, that you photocopy your passport. This will expedite your safe return to the U.S. in case you misplace your real passport. This is very serious, so keep your copy in a different place other than where you file your important paperwork (ticket, etc.).
4. Check the weight of your luggage and make sure they weigh under the limits placed by the airline. Commonly, each bag should be 50 pounds or less. That also includes your pedalboard if you check it under the plane. It may not seem like much, but the pounds can add up in a hurry.
5. Make sure your instrument/pedalboard cases are flight-worthy and keep your equipment safe in poor conditions; rain, snow and wind, for example. Remember that your gear may be sitting on an airport tarmac while it is being loaded onto the plane, so you need to protect it well. The people loading up your gear may not care that you have expensive equipment sitting in there.
6. Make sure the luggage that you use is also waterproof. I recently traveled to Germany to promote my new Johnny Hiland signature model PRS guitar and took a rolling-duffel for my clothes. Unfortunately, something spilled on it and stained most of my clothes with a brown appearance. Needless to say, I spent some time at a laundry facility there and was not too happy.
7. Make sure you pack extra strings, cables, connector cables for your pedalboard, a guitar repair kit, and a few extra power supplies for your pedalboard. It also helps to purchase a power-conversion kit for other countries in case a power supply goes down or you need a different plug. It never hurts to be over-prepared for something to go wrong with your gear, and if you’re touring, it most likely will.
8. If you are selling merchandise on your travels abroad, try to exchange as few funds as possible if the exchange rate on the US dollar is unacceptable. You will make money during your performances.
I sincerely hope these travel tips help you. Please feel free to drop me a line at johnnyhiland.com. Have fun on the road, play well and be safe! God Bless.
Guitar Player Extrodinare