This frequently asked question was discussed on Handbell-L in April 2001.  Thanks for permission to reprint.

Kath W asked:

>      We are going on tour in June, and with a respectable budget for once.  We'll have 5 oct. bells, 3 oct. chimes, guitar/amp and other instruments, 8 >tables, all the pads/wedges/bridges, covers, etc.
>      I'm looking at all the bits and pieces of luggage/ packing/ transporting >that will :
>      1) Make it easier to lug all our stuff in and out of 5 different venues,
>      2) Protect our equipment in the process,
>      3) Pack as compactly as possible.
>I'd love to know your favorite dollies/carts, bags for carrying things in, >pad carrying (space is not a problem), organization of equipment, extra >things you take "just in case," and tricks. Please include Cat. #'s, prices,
>and store info when possible.

Rima answered:

I've listed a bunch of general touring stuff we've learned the hard way.  Some of them apply best when flying, but they're all useful either way.   Touring is HARD.  It takes a great deal of planning, and even more tolerance on everyone's part to make things go smoothly.


Make sure where you're going has a big dolly, or ask your first stop to RENT you one (it's only a few bucks, and will save you time and backaches).  Or if you're driving, just bring one with you.

Strap your cases tightly so they don't open.  Some groups use cardboard boxes as overcases.

We tie giant yellow fabric ties on the handles of all our stuff that we check.  That way, you can easily identify then coming down the luggage ramp.   Really saves time, and could save you much grief by preventing you from lifting someone else's black suitcase by accident and not finding out until you've driven 5 hours.  ;-/

Keep a checklist, and check it twice!

To consolidate so you have fewer pieces (and to move them more easily) buy a few giant cheap suitcases on wheels.  You should be able to fit a few bell boxes in them.  That way you are checking fewer pieces, and are less likely to lose a teeny box of 7s, for example.

Use your foam to pads to do what they do best!   Pad other stuff (we use it to pad our tables, since we have to fly our own tables) with your foam.

TIP THE SKYCAP.  Let him know right away that you will tip him well. That way you're less likely to get charged for oversize or overweight pieces.

Make every person in your group responsible for the SAME two or three pieces.  There's less confusion that way, and you're less likely to leave stuff behind anywhere.


extra handles, springs, clapper heads
bell polish
one extra copy of the music that is kept SEPARATELY from the rest
screwdrivers, batteries, cables, black spray paint, duct tape, black
gaffer's tape
safety pins, Fabreeze
AAA card (saved our butts more than once!)
3 pairs of extra nylons
pair of shoelaces

Everyone should have a personal JUST IN CASE stash:

extra glasses or contact lenses
medication (whether you usually need it or not - you might need it in
a different climate or under difficult circumstances)
Medical history
a couple of Cliff Bars, for when you get starved but can't stop to eat
a little pack of kleenex ('cause stuff happens)

After years of touring and wasting time arguing about stuff, we have finally appointed a "tour manager".   You go where she tells you, room with whomever she tells you to.  You wake up when she tells you and go to sleep when she tells you.   Believe it or not, everyone is much happier this way.

We also have a "tour book" that has all the pertinent info.  Where we're playing, what hotels we're at, phone numbers, call times (including hotel lobby times in the morning, early calls for folks who need breakfast, later calls for folks who don't.)

We have a designated person in charge of setup at the venue.   All questions go to this same person, and his decisions are final.  This really keeps the confusion down to a minimum, especially if you have a complicated setup like we do.  ;-D


Also, since we travel in two vehicles, we have a pair of walkie-talkies so we can communicate between them for potty stops, gas stops, lunch stops, and emergencies - like when the lead car misses the turnoff!!!!!

Hope all this helps!

Have bells, will travel
Los Angeles

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