Feb 15 2019

Packing for Tour

Whether you start packing weeks in advance or save it to the last minute, there are many things to keep in mind. It’s essential for all group members to follow all of these rules — especially if you often travel independently and may not be as used to group travel. Airlines tend to be stricter with groups than with individuals, and remember that luggage space on foreign coaches is often less than what you’d expect in the US.

Also, please understand that you are responsible for moving your own luggage in the airport and in and out of the hotels.

The first thing to think about when it comes to packing is the luggage itself. ACFEA allows each traveler the following:

1) One checked item. Checked items, like suitcases, can be no more than 50 pounds (22 kg) and no more than 62 linear inches (158 cm). To find an item’s size in linear inches, add the height, length, and width in inches. There may be a fee for this on domestic tours and some international flights.

2) One carry-on item. A carry-on is an item within the airline’s carry-on size and weight limit that fits in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of them, like a backpack or violin. If the carry-on is an instrument (like a violin or a trumpet), the ONLY other item they can carry on must be what the airlines consider a “personal item.” Many airlines limit the weight of carry-on bags to 13 lbs (6 kg), and some are even less.

Failure to follow these rules almost always results in oversize, overweight, and/or additional baggage fees, which you will need to pay at the airport. If enough group members bring more than these two pieces, or luggage that is too big, you may have to rent a van upon arrival.

Any liquids or gels brought on board a plane in carry-on luggage must be contained in bottles 3.4 oz (100 ml) or less and all bottles or containers must fit into one clear, quart-size (950 ml), zip top plastic bag. Prescription medications in label prescription bottles or vials are an exception to this rule. For more information about carry-on restrictions, liquid or otherwise, please go to tsa.gov.

Note that these are our standard rules, but could vary from tour to tour based on your airline’s regulations. Check with your Tour Manager to see if you need to follow any special restrictions, such as strict carry-on weight limits.

As for what to pack? You’re the best judge, given the length and destination of your trip, but here are some things to consider:

  • Your group’s requirements. Do you have everything you need as a member of your group? This might include uniform shirts, special things for concerts, or health and safety items.
  • Concert attire and music. Check with your director about any preferences they might have how to pack your performance gear. And don’t forget a pencil!
  • Instrument. Don’t forget any accessories (extra strings, mutes, oil, etc) and a collapsible music stand. Also be sure your instrument is packed well for transport — and is labelled with your name and group name!
  • Water bottle. Staying hydrated is of utmost importance for any traveler, but especially musicians. Even if you are visiting a place where you won’t drink the tap water, having a reusable bottle is still helpful so you can buy a large bottle and pour out what you need for the day.
  • Plan for weather. As your trip approaches, it’s best to check the actual forecast rather than rely on seasonal averages. Every year, we have tours to places that are hotter, colder, drier, or wetter than normal, so be prepared to be flexible. Dressing in layers is key, and even if rain isn’t in the forecast, consider taking a small umbrella or rain jacket.
  • Items for special circumstances. Review your itinerary carefully and consider if any activities need anything special. Are you riding on a ferry? Consider motion sickness medicine. Are you going to be outside much of the day? You’ll want a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
  • Sturdy walking shoes. You’re likely to do much, much more walking on your tour than in your regular daily life. The streets and sidewalks might be cobblestone or something equally unsteady. Please bring something you’ll be comfortable in – and please make sure they are not brand new!
  • Attire appropriate for religious spaces. If your tour includes sightseeing in religious sites such as churches or mosques, you’ll need to wear closed-toed shoes and something other than short shorts or skirt. You should also bring along a cardigan and/or scarf to cover your shoulders and/or head if necessary.
  • Don’t plan to do laundry. Your hotel very well might offer laundry service, but it’s best not to rely on it, except for emergencies. It’s often expensive and might take longer than you have at that particular hotel. Consider packing stain removal pens or mini packets of laundry soap if you want to be prepared for spot cleaning.
  • Leave valuables at home. Please don’t bring anything valuable or sentimental with you on tour.

As you might guess, ACFEA staffers travel so often, we have it down to a science! Here are some of our best tips:

Think about your wardrobe and be coordinated – mix & match! And always fold your clothes even if they are dirty – you’ll fit more in that way!
— Helen David, Director of Operations, Europe

I never travel without a scarf and will always pack in a standard carry-on size suitcase, whether or not I’m checking it, to remind myself I don’t need to take the kitchen sink.
— Eleanor Etherington, Tour Manager, Europe

Pack your suitcase, then carry it up three flights of stairs twice. Then have a good think about its contents and what is absolutely necessary to take.
— Amanda Bauman, Senior Tour Manager, North America