✈️ Frame Drums on the Go…
How to travel (safely) with your frame drums
Travel is back, and we are so excited.
You may be worried about going places with your frame drum babies, but – having taken mine all over the world, I can tell you that it is easy!
The most important piece of advice I can give you is: If you have a family of frame drums, try to choose sparingly. You don’t need to take all of them with you!
Now you’ve chosen your musical travel buddies, here’s my little guide:
🚗 TRAVELING WITH FRAME DRUMS ON FOOT, BIKES, CARS, BOATS & PUBLIC TRANSPORT
(1) If you have more than one drum, nest them together (see pic) with a thin blanket, item of clothing or piece of cloth between each drum and around them like a parcel to protect their frames and keep them from slipping about.
NOTE: Depending on the duration and location of your trip, bubble wrap isn’t the best choice because it can attract condensation which de-tunes your instruments (it’s fine for beaters and stands though).
(2) Place your drum/drum parcel in a soft drum bag, backpack, suitcase or even a hat box.
(3) If the bag is bigger than the drum(s), pad clothes or soft materials around their frames so they are snug/don’t move about.
That’s it – you’re good to go!
✈️ TRAVELING WITH FRAME DRUMS ON A PLANE
I’ve clocked up many air miles with my drum babies and they have only been put in the hold area (where large cases go) twice. Here are my tips for a stress-free journey…
(1) STANDARD HAND LUGGAGE:
(a) If you’re traveling only with approved-size hand luggage and have drums that fit snuggly inside (as per the instructions above), then check-in in advance as you should be fine to go straight through to security.
(b) Don’t tape your bag shut as screeners may want to inspect it.
(c) Once on the plane, make sure you put your bag carefully in the overhead lockers and watch it like a hawk to make sure that no-one (including crew) bangs other luggage against it too roughly.
(2) NON-STANDARD HAND LUGGAGE:
(a) If your bag is a little bigger and you’re worried you might be stopped, arrive earlier than you usually would to make sure you’re one of the first to check in.
(b) It’s worth putting a ‘Fragile’ sticker on your bag (if you don’t have any at home, they usually have free ones at the Check-in desks).
(c) It doesn’t hurt to have a little play of your drum(s) near to check-in and security areas, so you can raise curiosity and they can see/hear that you are a musician. One time, I even gave a little performance on the plane!
(d) It also doesn’t hurt to have photos of previous flights (or drum buddies’ trips) proving that they fit into the overhead lockers.
(e) Greet check-in staff with a big smile and a “Hello, how are you?” An honest compliment can go a long way, so if they have a nice smile, beautiful name or lovely vintage watch, let them know.
(f) If they start to focus on your bag, pre-empt any negatives by reassuring them that the instrument inside has traveled fine as carry-on (and, if you have photos, ask if they would like to see them).
(g) If they insist it’s too big, say something like:
“My instrument is handmade/unique, very expensive and fragile. Is there anything you can suggest to help me?”
(3) AT THE BOARDING GATE:
Once you make it through check-in, if you are stopped at the Boarding Gate, it’s worth noting that on most plane configurations, the crew lockers – or ‘closets’ for our US readers – are much bigger (and generally safer) than the overhead ones. Using the above instrument description, ask if they would kindly let you use their crew lockers/closets.
Remember: Smile, be positive, friendly and polite throughout, and trust that your drum(s) will be allowed on the plane.
(4) IF ALL ELSE FAILS:
If all else fails, you can check your drums into the hold area, but I would definitely recommend a hard case for this.
MARLA’S RECOMMENDED CASES:
Before you buy, take note of the bag’s interior dimensions to make sure your drum(s) will fit!
For those particularly precious babies, multiple drums, oversized drums, very long journeys or check-in peace-of-mind, you can get hard cases custom-made at Pelican: https://www.pelican.com/us/en/professional/custom-cases.
For budget travelers with 14″ drums, any hard case made for a snare drum will do, as the standard snare size is also 14″ (they commonly range between 10″ – 16″ so check case measurements before purchase).
Unless I have a big gig requiring many drums, I always use soft cases. I’m a fan of Meinl Drum Bags – they are so squishy, even your cats will want to sleep in them! Available here: https://www.coopermanframedrums.com/products/frame-drum-bags
Remo carry bags are also a good budget option.
FINAL TIP: You can turn your drum bag into a suitcase!
I learned this from Glen Velez when I did my first workshop with him – I spotted that he had all his clothes, toiletries etc in his drum bag. (Just don’t pack anything sharp 😉)
🎶That’s it – now you have no excuse for not sharing your rhythms with the world!
If you need some drum inspiration for your trip, check out my free mini course:
Wishing you happy and safe travels…