30 Of The Best Travel Friendly Instruments


Do you like to play a musical instrument while traveling? You probably wonder what the most travel-friendly instrument is. I’m here to help you out! And created this unique list of the 30 best travel-friendly instruments you can easily take with you while traveling. Let’s check it out! 

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1) Ukelele

When you think of an instrument you can take with you while traveling, most people think of the Ukelele. A thought I completely understand since I’m playing on my Ukelele all the time and bring it almost everywhere while traveling. 

A Ukelele is a small string instrument, most of the time with 4 strings. The Ukelele is not only perfect for traveling because of its size. Also, it’s an original Hawaiian instrument with a unique tropical sound. Playing the Ukelele brings you directly into a vacation and traveler’s mood. 

Playing the Ukelele is relatively easy. Once you learn the basic strumming patterns and some different chords, you can easily learn to play hundreds of other songs. 

Keep in mind, though, that the Ukelele comes in different sizes. The smallest Ukelele, known as a ‘Soprano Ukelele,’ is 53cm (20 inches) long on average and perfect for taking with you for traveling. 

Other sizes are a Concert Ukelele, Tenor Ukelele, Baritone Ukelele. 

The longer the size, the lower the sound on the Ukelele. But also, it’s easier to play chords on a longer Ukelele when you have large hands or long fingers. That’s the reason why I prefer to play the Tenor Ukelele. I can easily place my fingers to play the chords and maintain that unique Hawaiian sound. Still, I bring a Soprano Ukelele with me most of the time while traveling; just because it’s so small, it doesn’t take up much space. 

Do you want to buy a Ukelele for traveling? You can find the latest prices here on Amazon

2) Kalimba

The Kalimba is originally an African instrument, also known as Mbira. It’s an instrument that belongs to the Lammelophone instruments. You’ll find variations of this instrument all over the African continent in different sizes, shapes, and amounts of keys. 

On average, the Kalimba has 12 keys mounted on a wooden soundboard. Since it’s an instrument you play by hand, the wooden soundboard is small so that you can easily hold it. You play the keys by strumming the ends with your thumbs or index finger. 

We use the Kalimba to play relaxing melodies and sometimes existing songs. The Kalimba is often small and easy to carry on, with an average size of 12cm (5inch) by 17cm (7 inches). 

Some kalimbas are very expensive, but these are often used for professional use or made of unique wood. I recommend buying a cheaper one since you’ll take it with you while traveling. You can quickly get cheaper, and good-quality Kalimba’s on Amazon (check out the latest prices). 

3) Harmonica

When I’m thinking of a harmonica, I always get that gypsy travelers vibe, you know what I mean, right? A harmonica is a perfect travel instrument since it fits right into your pocket. 

Learning to play the harmonica is straightforward, but it can take some time to truly master the technique. Once you get that under control, you can easily play all kinds of rhythms you like. 

The harmonica, also known as a mouth organ, is smaller than your pocket and weighs almost nothing. As I said, it is relatively easy to learn. The most important thing is that you learn to control your breathing since the instrument is played using your breath (inhaling vs. exhaling). 

Find out the latest prices for a traveling harmonica on Amazon

4) Hang Drum

Oh boy, this one is on my wishlist! I played a hang drum only once during a meditation retreat, and I’ve been hooked ever since. A hang drum, also known as a hand pan, is originally a steel drum with holes or dents that create unique tones when touched.

The original hand pans can be quite big, so they are probably not the easiest to carry on while traveling with a backpack. However, if you’re traveling with a campervan or by car, it’s easy to fit somewhere between your luggage. 

A hang drum is an instrument I would recommend to everyone. The only reason I didn’t buy one yet is that they can be quite expensive, and you really need to take care of them in terms of how to play and store them. And because I don’t always have enough time to play, I feel it’s not the right time to make such an investment. 

It’s also something to keep in mind when buying a Hang Drum. If you find one below, let’s say 1000 euros, it’s probably too good to be true. The reason for this is that hang drums or hand pans are created by hand. So it costs a lot of work to make a quality instrument like this. 

For this reason, I recommend physically visiting a store to try out different drums. Tones, Feel, and how you play differ per hang drum. So you truly want to try it out first before making an investment. 

5) Steel Tongue Drum Pan

This instrument is similar to the earlier mentioned Hand Pan. However, it’s smaller and cheaper. Also, often you play this instrument with sticks instead of your hands. 

Actually, the only way you can compare it with an original hang drum is that both instruments are drum instruments and round. A Tongue Drum is a completely different instrument but still fun to play! And for most backpackers much easier as a carry-on instrument since it’s much smaller. 

A tongue drum is also easier to buy since prices vary between 50 to 250 euros. It makes it an easy instrument to buy online and try out. Find out the latest prices on Amazon here. 

6) Mandolin

The Mandolin is a travel-friendly instrument because of its size. Most Mandolins have an average size of between 13 and 16 inches. 

Because the Mandolin has 4 double strings (8 strings in total), it’s often played with a plectrum (also known as a pick). Learning to play the Mandolin is more complicated than other string instruments like a Ukelele. It’s more difficult because of the double strings that are close together. However, it’s a beautiful and fun instrument to play once you get it! 

Did you know Mandolins are often used in Folk music? A music genre that’s closely related to traveling! So, maybe the Mandolin is the perfect travel instrument because of this! 

7) Folding Piano

Yes, that’s right, you can bring a piano while traveling and it doesn’t take up much space at all. Let me tell you more! 

A folding piano is perfect when you love to play the piano. On average, and when folded, the piano is only 33 centimeters (13 inches). The piano is very lightweight and weighs only 1.6 kilograms! Best of all, you can play on 88 keys when unfolded, and it’s easy to use the built-in speakers or your headphone if you want to play in silence. 

Since this piano is an electric version, you can easily connect it to your computer. Use or create your own samples or other things to create some unique music! 

The battery can last up to 8 hours of playing time, which is perfect if you have to wait for a transfer while traveling or just being on the road. 

I saved the best for last. It only costs you around 100 USD! Prices may vary. You can find the latest price here on Amazon

8) DJ Controller

When you’re more into creating digital music, I got the perfect solution for you! A DJ controller can be a travel-friendly instrument to bring with you once you pick the right one. And that can be a difficult search process because many DJ Controllers are available on the market. 

Keep in mind that you don’t have a lot of space for your luggage and instruments while traveling most of the time. So, the DJ controller must be small, easy to carry, and lightweight. Most DJ controllers are compatible with software on your laptop, smartphone, or tablet. 

Depending on your preference and if you want to create, you can choose different DJ controllers perfect for traveling. However, the Hercules DJ control Starlight is a controller that is the ideal choice for many DJs. Easy to use and easy to fit in a backpack. Find out the latest price on Amazon. 

9) Bongo Drums

“Drum drum away. It’s time for the Bongo to play!” I really love this instrument, especially when you really master it. The Caribbean vibes you get when someone plays the bongo drums always feel like a summer carnival! 

Do you love to play Bongo Drums? To bring a set of bongo drums, it’s important to choose the right size. This way, you can easily carry the Bongo Drums with you while traveling. 

This Bongo Drum set available on Amazon is perfect for traveling since its size is only 6 and 7 inches. It comes in an easy carry-on bag. Find out the latest price on Amazon

10) Portable Cajon Box

Let’s stay in the drums for the following instruments. I really love to play the Cajon. It gives me almost similar vibes as the bongo drums. Also, it’s just so easy to play. You can literally dream away while playing on the Cajon Box. However, an original Cajon Box isn’t suitable for traveling because of its size. 

Luckily there’s a perfect solution to this problem! Let’s learn more about the Travel Cajon! 

A Travel Cajon has the size of a small tablet and comes in an easy carry-on bag. The size is only 29 by 23 cm (11 to 9 inches). The surface, made of wood, has two zones for bass and snare drum that are easy to play. Find out the latest price on Amazon.

11) Bluetooth Drum Kit

Traveling for drummers can be difficult since bringing a complete drum kit along while traveling is almost impossible. However, there are several options to bring some sort of drum kit with you to enjoy playing your favorite instrument. 

Earlier, we mentioned some carry-on and portable drum instruments like the bongo drum and travel Cajon. But to play as a traditional drummer, you have some different options. However, the best option is the virtual reality drum kit from Aeroband. These drum sticks connect easily with your device via Bluetooth. The drum kit includes an 8 pad drum pad with two-foot sensors so you can easily play the bass drum as well. 

The aero band drum set is best for travelers because it’s easy to carry on. All you need is your smartphone, tablet, or laptop to connect the drum set, and you can play your drums how you like them at home! Find out the latest price on Amazon

12) Tamborim Drum

Bringing a classic tamborim drum is always fun while traveling. You can easily play some nice rhythms while on your own or relaxing with friends. But what I like most about this instrument is that it allows you to play along with other musicians you meet on the road. 

A tamborim drum fits in most travel backpacks and suitcases. And if you buy one that includes a traveler’s case, you can always take it with you as a carry-on instrument. 

Also, it’s one of the cheaper instruments to buy, and prices vary between 15 Dollars and 50 Dollars on average. The cost of a Tamborim drum depends on the drum’s material. Find your favorite Tamborim Drum on Amazon

13) Traveler Guitar Acoustic

Some guitar players just can’t go without their guitar, so they always bring the instrument along while traveling. Depending on what kind of music you play and where you travel, you can decide to bring one of your more expensive models or find a cheaper one that is easier to carry on and also doesn’t costs much when it gets broken or something. 

You really need to consider the way you travel so you can decide which instrument you bring with you. If you bring an acoustic guitar, make sure to also get a hard-top guitar case. Your acoustic guitar is much more protected for transport during traveling. Find out the latest prices on Amazon.

14) Traveler Guitar Electric

When you love to play Electric Guitar, bringing one with you can be a hassle since you always need to have an amplifier to play it. Luckily, electric guitars are available with built-in amplifiers, but these aren’t very good for advanced guitar players. 

Your best way to go is to get a traveler model or just bring your good old electric guitar with a small traveler amp. For example, ‘the VOX amp plug is a great amplifier that can even fit in your pocket! You can find out the latest price on Amazon

15) Melodica

This handheld instrument is perfect for bringing while traveling. A Melodica is similar to a pump organ and harmonica, but the difference is that a Melodica also has a keyboard on top. This gives you more possibilities to play different tones. 

16) Recorder (Traditional Flute) 

A recorder is easy to carry on Flute, so perfect for traveling. Did you know this Flute got its name all the way back in the 14th century? According to the stories, this Flute was used when students were trying to learn a new piece. Studying and learning were known as recording, hence the name. 

A flute comes in different sizes and is made from different materials. But almost always, it will fit in your backpack or suitcase. 

17) Pan Flute

Suppose you’re looking for a more traditional instrument that is easy to carry on. In that case, I recommend bringing a pan flute. 

A Pan Flute is known as a traditional folk instrument. You can find them in different sizes and often they are made of a different material. However, for traveling, a standard size is more recommended. 

18) Bamboo Flute

It might look like a recorder, but the Bamboo Flute is something different. Did you know it’s the oldest flute instrument ever found? Archaeologists found bamboo flutes more than 40000 years old! 

And another funny thing, you can easily make it yourself!

19) Travel Digeridoo 

I really love this instrument! Maybe because it brings me back to when we traveled to Australia. However, a traditional Digeridoo isn’t that easy to bring while traveling. But if you can go without one, you can always go for the Travel Digeridoo. 

Yes, a small handheld variation of a traditional digeridoo that you can easily bring while traveling. Find out the latest price on Amazon

20) Flute

You can always bring a flute when traveling. It’s easy to pack and always fun to play. We already mentioned different types of flutes that are perfect for bringing while traveling. 

Find out which Flute you like to play the most before deciding which one to take on your next travel adventure. 

21) Tambourine

Do you like to play rhythms? Bringing a tambourine can be a fun instrument for traveling. I feel a tambourine is especially interesting if you meet a lot of other people during your travels. If you like to play music with other travelers, a Tambourine always fits in. 

22) Djembe

You probably need an extra bag to bring this instrument, but if you like to play some rhythms, a Djembe is always a good idea. It’s perfect for connecting with locals because everyone always wants to play on the Djembe.

Find out the best Travel Djembe here on Amazon.  

23) Concertina

I recently learned about this instrument and would love to play it once. It’s kind of a mini accordion, but also different. Because of its size, a Concertina is perfect for traveling. 

A concertina is very easy to play and extra fun because it’s not a very popular instrument. So you’ll always meet other people while playing the concertina because many will be interested. 

24) Mini Accordion

An Accordion is different from a concertina because of its size and that it also has a keyboard. Traditional Accordions are fairly big, so they are not ideal for bringing with you while traveling. However, you can always go for a mini accordion that fit’s in a small case or carry-on bag. 

I really love the sound that comes from an Accordion. So, if you love folk music as well, I think you just found your favorite travel-friendly instrument. Find out the latest prices for mini accordions on Amazon. 

25) Your Smartphone

Yes, you can easily use your smartphone as an instrument. And since you’ll probably bring one with you, it’s the perfect travel instrument if you love to create some digital music. However, the downside is that it’s very individual. 

I don’t like using my smartphone all the time. When traveling, I feel it’s the worst device to bring constantly with you because it keeps you away from connecting 1on1 with fellow travelers or local people. 

26) Orba Handheld Synth

Bringing a synth can be difficult when traveling because of its size. But a Handheld Synth is perfect because you can easily fit it in your backpack. Even better, it’s pocket size! 

This unique design makes it perfect if you want to create some digital music along the road. 

27) Plastic Saxophone

Are you a saxophone player? When you go traveling for a longer period, you probably don’t want to leave your saxophone behind. But there’s a solution! Probably not the most ideal if you are a more advanced player. Still, you can play your favorite instrument while traveling. Bring a plastic Saxophone! 

Why plastic? Because it’s lightweight, easy to assemble, and if it gets broken or lost, it doesn’t cost you a fortune!

28) Plastic Trumpet

Yes, there’s also a plastic variant for Trumpet Players. It weighs less than 500 grams! Perfect lightweight instrument to bring while traveling. Again, it’s probably not the best instrument for advanced players, but it still allows you to play while traveling. Find out the latest prices on Amazon

29) Midi Controller

Bringing a midi controller and your laptop or smartphone lets you effortlessly switch between (digital) instruments. Playing different instruments was never that simple, and it all fits in your backpack. 

The only downside for bringing a midi controller while traveling is that it’s individual. You won’t be able to play music with other people since you’ll be focusing on producing music on your computer most of the time instead of going out there. Still, it can be fun to bring such an instrument and create awesome songs together when you travel with like-minded people! 

30) Travel Violin

What differentiates a travel violin from a normal violin? I would say material and price. Regular Violins are often expensive instruments that you don’t want to bring while traveling around. Unless you are a professional musician and travel to play a concert or something. 

If you just play the Violin as a hobby, I would say bring a cheaper one while traveling. It will always fit in a small carry-on case, which you can easily bring while traveling.

Recommended Articles

You probably found an instrument that you want to bring while traveling. You might be interested in reading one of my other articles as well. I recommend you start with What Inspires You To Travel?

Léon Kopijn

Léon Kopijn works and lives as a Digital Nomad. He travels the world with the love of his life and writes about inspiring cultures and practical travel tips. Find out more about Léon on his about page!

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