The travel tip nobody will tell you

Travelling overseas? There are a million books and websites filled with an amazing range of travel tips,but I want to share the one thing I’ve discovered that is not in the books:

Carry a ukulele.

A ukulele is one of the easiest instruments to learn, and it is incredibly portable. You can get a cheap Mahalo brand for less than $30. It is one of the few instruments that is so cheap that will still sound good. It sounds even better if you throw on some Aquila strings (about $20).

Why travel with a ukulele?

  • They are cheap. Cheap enough that if they get damaged or lost it doesn’t matter
  • They are a fun and happy instrument. You can’t be sad when you are playing a ukulele.
  • They are easy to learn. You can be playing basic songs in 15 minutes. And they sound good, not like someone learning violin!
  • They are portable. Easy to stuff in a backpack and carry anywhere, and they fit in your carry-on luggage
  • They are a great way to meet people. In my experience, when you have a ukulele people will come up to actually talk to you, not just sell you trinkets. They seem generally interested and love to have a go at it. It’s a great way to make momentary friendships with those many random people that pass through your life as you travel.
  • Protection from monkeys. Probably not a big concern for most people, but it was an effective tool for keeping away aggressive monkeys at the Old Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali.
  • Crime prevention strategy. Unfortunately I don’t know if there is a causal effect, but I carry my ukulele everywhere and I have never had troubles with being attacked or robbed, even walking in the dark streets of developing nations alone at night.

So there you have it, take a ukulele when you travel.

For the last and best word on ukuleles, let’s ask Amanda Palmer.