Around the World with a Ukulele in my Hand

Last year at this time, I was another corporate robot. I was proverbially chained to my computer, listening to meetings on a headset, bending over backwards for clients, and counting down the minutes until sweet freedom at 5 o'clock. I wanted a different lifestyle and decided the only way I could make this happen was to push myself completely out of my comfort zone.

I saved up enough money to live off of for six months, quit my job, ended the lease on my apartment, and sold everything I own, except my ukulele and what I could fit into my 44L backpack. It was an incredibly stressful couple of months preparing for this big adventure. I questioned whether I was making the right choice. Choosing to step away from the grid and experience life without the digital chaos of life was the best decision I’ve ever made!

In today's world, we put so much importance on social media, technology, and the hustle and bustle of life. That is part of the reason I wanted to bring my ukulele with me on my travels. My uke has not only helped me find peace in stressful situations, but has been a companion, and a friend maker. Plus the small size, makes it easy to travel with!

If I'm feeling anxious, I'll whip out my ukulele and start strumming a few tunes. Once I was on a train from Prague to Berlin, and the train stopped on the tracks due to construction. We found out we were going to be delayed an hour and a half, but weren't allowed to get off the train. Everyone in the carriage was really irritated and angry their plans were being disrupted.

Out of boredom, I pulled my uke out and started playing a few songs. The ominous mood quickly started to lift. I saw other passengers begin to tap their toes, or move to the beat. I started to play "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and an older woman came over and started singing in a perfect soprano voice! Soon the entire carriage was joining. A little girl did some twirling and dancing in the center aisle.

After my jam sesh, not only was everyone in a better mood, but I had a new friend. The woman with the beautiful soprano voice, Anna, started talking to me and invited me to her house for dinner the next day! Anna shared with me her stories of living in West Berlin before the wall came down, and meeting her husband who lived in East Berlin. Just think, if I had been trolling on Facebook, or sending angry Tweets complaining about the train delay, I would never have had this experience!

Traveling with my uke has other perks as well. I really wanted to fly to Rome to meet a friend I had met in Krakow. The flight was cheap, but still just outside of my budget. To make up the extra cash, I plopped down on a busy street corner and started jamming on my ukulele. If you hit the right location with the right time, mixed with a few good tunes, you can easily make a good chunk of change!

Taking this step in my life has taught me so much about myself, but has also removed the stress and anxiety that comes with the digital world we live in. I'm a far cry from the unhappy, suit wearing business woman I was a year ago.

If you’re interested in picking up a ukulele, I would recommend the Lanikai LUTU-21S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele. The smaller size of the soprano is a great companion for your adventures. With a price point of under $100, it’s ideal for those wanting to travel. That way if something happens to it while you’re on the road, you won’t shed too many tears. Plus, Lanikai consistently makes reliable products, which is obvious in the LUTU 21S. This ukulele won’t be as loud, but will give you quality sound and tone.

If you’re looking for a more substantial option, the Gretsch G9120 Tenor ukulele is a great choice. It features a beautiful mahogany satin body with a laminated tone that creates a unique sound, which in my opinion adds value to the instrument. I also really like how the fret markers are clearly labeled, which is helpful for beginners!

When you can’t decide between a guitar and a ukulele, I suggest the bass ukulele. The size is larger and the longer body length creates a deep, robust sound. The Kala U Bass comes with custom designed polyurethane strings to get that original sound you’re looking for.  This ukulele will get you out of the “mainstream” instruments, with something truly unique!


Further Reading on Ukuleles

Ukulele Chords for Beginners

Easy to Learn Ukulele Songs

Finding the Right Ukulele for You



Author Byline – Colleen

Colleen has a passion for guitars and ukuleles. She enjoys jamming, teaching, and getting others involved in music. Her website, Coustii, focuses specifically on guitars and ukes.