Music is a universal language with the power to bridge cultural gaps and connect people from all walks of life. However, sharing music around the world can be difficult to do with full-sized instruments and astronomical baggage fees. Why buy an extra plane ticket for your harp if you could carry it in your backpack? Here are our top picks for travel-ready instruments to keep your inner musician happy when you’re on the road.
The Klōs Carbon Fiber Ukulele
Like the musician-acclaimed Klōs Carbon Fiber Guitar, the company’s new Carbon Fiber Ukulele is a professional-grade instrument that can stand up to pretty much any abuse. And because its carbon fiber shell stays stable even as temperatures and humidity levels change, you can go from plucking out “Tiny Bubbles” on the beach in Maui to strumming under the stars in Iceland with no change in sound quality. The best part—it weighs less than a grapefruit, making it effortlessly portable. Klōs offers acoustic and acoustic-electric versions. $439 (early bird price, via Indiegogo); klosguitars.com
Weighing in at just 1.43 pounds, the future of the keyboard has arrived and it has 5 Dimensions of Touch. The Seaboard Block contains a library of more than 200 sounds, allowing you to easily jump from the string section to a strong synthesizer in an instant. Express yourself from just your fingertips by using the soft, pressure-responsive surface that makes every moment of touch musical. One Block contains a two-octave playing surface; connect multiple Blocks or the Roli Beatmaker Kit for a true symphony of sounds. $300; roli.com
All you need are AA batteries to operate this first of its kind digital wind instrument. The Roland Aerophone AE-10 allows you to make music in any environment with an all-in-one saxophone, clarinet, flute, oboe, trumpet, and more. Practice quietly on an airplane with the headphones option, or perform with loud vibrato thanks to a fully optimized breath control and bite sensor. Weighing less than two pounds, this award-winning instrument is the perfect travel companion. $800; roland.com
These travel congas by Pearl Drum are so lightweight and portable that you can even play them while hiking. A compact, 3.5-inch deep Remo Fiberskyn drumhead provides an outstanding tone while preventing fluctuations in sound due to shifts in temperature or humidity. You don’t have to be an experienced percussionist to make a beat on this lightweight instrument, and a Thai oak shell and polished steel hardware give it a snazzy look, too. $260–$280; pearldrum.com
Our most therapeutic instrument on the list, the Tranquility Harp by Gabrielle Harps is tuned to an ancient pentatonic scale in which all notes harmonize. The harp, less than five pounds, is handcrafted in Michigan to produce a heavenly sound that even nonmusicians can master. From children to patients in hospitals or retirement and nursing homes, anyone around the world will benefit from the peacefulness of this sound. The Tranquility Harp’s designer and maker, Jerry Ware, says there is no wrong way to play it: “You simply pick it up and play what you feel.” $450; gabrielleharp.com