5 Instruments You Should Roam With
Music can be a very problematic hobby for a long-term traveler. Many instruments are too heavy, too sensitive, or too expensive for a wanderer to bring along on their journeys. I myself have often been seen hiking down a highway with a mandolin, guitar, fiddle, hand-drum, and a large backpack strapped onto my overburdened body. Not to mention the few smaller instruments inside the backpack! Luckily, there are plenty of instruments out there perfect for the traveling musician. Sympathetic music lovers around the world have designed light, affordable instruments for our use. Some date back to ancient times, proving how long musicians have roamed the world!
These are a few of the best portable instruments out there:
Quite popular with backpackers, this instrument can be bought very cheaply in almost any music store around the world. It’s a great choice for travel, as it is both small and durable. It takes very little time to pick up, even for those of us who are less than musically inclined! It is easily slipped into a pocket, and is very light. Many travelers have found it perfect for any trip, long or short!
Slightly larger than some of the other travel-friendly instruments, the mandolin requires a bit more care in handling. As a stringed instrument, it doesn’t handle damp well, and should never be stuffed in a backpack. But for those willing to undergo the extra trouble it takes to bring one along, the mandolin is an excellent traveling instrument. Often used to play folk music, it is great for coastal trips! I bring my mandolin wherever I go. It is my favorite traveling companion! But be warned, it isn’t exceptionally easy to pick up, and is not as cheap as a tin whistle!
The tin whistle is often said to have originated in Ireland, but was in fact invented in 1843 by a British man named Robert Clarke. Since then it has migrated all over the world, becoming one of the most popular portable instruments around. With a sharp, clear tone, the tin whistle is small, sturdy, and easy to learn. It can also be relatively cheap, within a hundred U.S dollars or less. Taking up almost no space in your bags, it’s a perfect instrument for those lovely nights around a campfire!
This twangy Asian instrument is thought to be among the oldest instruments in the world. It looks quite strange, and is often made of metal or bamboo. When placed in the mouth and flicked, it vibrates, creating a musical note. It is usually used as a percussion instrument. Quite small, it is extremely hardy, and requires almost no care whatsoever. The mouth harp is quite budget-friendly, generally not costing more than ten dollars total. If you’re looking for an adventure to go with it, try traveling to Asia to buy one in its homeland!
The kalimba, also known as the thumb piano, is traditionally an African instrument. This vibrant instrument consists of a board with multiple tines attached to its’ head. Each tine makes a different note when hit, or plucked with the thumbs. Each note is a separate idiophone, and therefore the kalimba belongs to the percussion family. Traditionally, the kalimba has 15 tines, but it can have more. Around the size of an iPad, it is quite light and easily fits into any backpack. At around $100-$200, the kalimba is quite affordable!
With all of these great travel friendly instruments, it’s almost impossible not to stow one in your bags (or in your pocket!) before hitting the road! Thanks to luthiers around the world, traveling with musical instruments can be easy, even effortless! What are some of your favorite portable instruments?
Hannah Miller is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program
Mandolin photo courtesy and copyright Hannah Miller
Photos used courtesy of flickr creative commons:
Tin Whistle: flickr.com/photos/ivanwalsh/