How To Practice Guitar During Your Vacation
By Eric Bourassa

So you're going on vacation but don't want to miss any of your guitar practice time?

You may have thought about bringing the guitar on the plane, but you either didn't want to carry it or didn't have room for it.* Or perhaps you are driving and there just wasn't room in the car. I think I have a solution for you:

On a recent trip to Montana with my four-year-old son, I simply did not want to carry a guitar with me. It's hard enough keeping track of a single backpack and a child. So here's what I did:

We went to a local music shop when we arrived at our destination. I found a used Squier Affinity Stratocaster for $129 and purchased it. I discussed selling the instrument back to the store upfront and determined I would receive about $65 selling it back to them. Also, there is no sales tax in Montana, which is a plus.

So I decided that if I practiced for one hour a day for the seven days that I was there, It would cost me just under $10 dollars per hour to have this guitar. This was highly motivating for me, because the more I practiced, the cheaper it was to rent this guitar. FYI most music stores don't typically rent out guitars because they are so inexpensive compared to other instruments like drums, saxophone, or violin.

Now, I could have simply purchased the guitar with the intention of returning it for a full refund at the end of the week. However, I do not believe this is moral. You may choose to go this route depending on the store’s return policy, it's just not for me.

Besides, knowing that you are paying for the guitar will be much more motivating for you to get your money’s worth. This is also true of investing in guitar lessons. Our students in Fort Worth and Aledo are more likely to practice knowing that they are paying for lessons. It's just human nature!

Over the course of seven days, I practiced a total of five hours 35 minutes. I did not quite hit my goal, and my hourly rate came out to around $12 per hour. However, I was glad that I practice five hours more than I would have had I not gotten the guitar. I am now five hours better at guitar than I was before I left for the trip. 

So, here is your step-by-step process for practicing on vacation when you are not taking a guitar with you:

 

  1. Find a used** Squier Stratocaster at a local music shop (I highly recommend this guitar because it is very inexpensive, easy to play, and dependable. In fact, it is the guitar we recommend for all of our students when they sign up for guitar lessons with us).
  2. Let the sales person know ahead of time what your intentions are and negotiate how much they will give you back for the guitar when you sell it back to them. Typically, they will offer you 50% of what you paid for it. Because you will likely only have this guitar for 7 to 10 days, push for getting 60 to 70% of what you paid for it back, which is what I should have done during my trip and will be doing the next time I return.
  3. Keep a log of your practice time during your vacation.
  4. Determine how much you are willing to spend per hour and schedule your practicing accordingly.
  5. At the end of your vacation, sell the guitar back to the store and determine what your hourly rate was that you paid to practice while on vacation.


If you averaged less than $10 per hour, congratulations! You got a good deal. If you got closer to $5 per hour, you either are a very good negotiator or you practiced a whole lot. Nice work.

One final piece of advice–I recommend practicing first thing in the morning before everyone gets up. You will more than likely be very tired at the end of the day and will be less motivated to practice. Try to knock it out when your travel companions are just waking up and starting their vacation day.

Let me know how it goes! I would love to hear how you're practicing vacation went and tips you may have for the rest of us!

*Federal law requires airlines to let you carry on a guitar. If an agent tells you you must check your guitar, firmly but politely let them know you will not be checking your guitar.

** Do not purchase new!