EDITOR’S NOTE: The views below are by a “circle show” street performer, who knows a ton about cases, but your mileage will vary depending on your show!

What makes a good travel case?

The reality is that 80% of street performance is hauling gear—pack, travel to a pitch, unpack, do a show, pack, unpack, do another show, pack, travel home, unpack—so you need a solid and practical solution to hold your stuff.

Although a case’s primary use is to transport all your belongings, the best cases can be used as a stage set piece, a prop or a riser to stand on, and can create an atmosphere of wonder and intrigue. I’ve found a great case can even help me attract those first few people to stop and watch.

It’s also the first thing your fellow buskers (and clients) will see of you. So, you need one that fits your show, helps create a persona and is professional. It’s such a cultural institution that it can even hold your spot in the queue. The case is part of the busker badge of honor. You should get a case that you carry with pride.


Vintage cases / Steamer Trunks

I am a sucker for these old beauties. Vintage travel cases and Steamer Trunks! What I wouldn’t do to have a show with a custom built replica of an 1800’s steamer trunk like this:

Rare 1800’s Decor Secretary Steamer Trunk from Rustic Realm

With this kind of case, you could make the coolest crusty old pirate or an eccentric scientist! The storage capability! Organization with individual pockets and drawers! Something to hide behind! Your poor back as you try to drag this across the city for 8 hours a day!

Okay, okay, maybe that isn’t practical. Those old trunks are weak and fragile, and won’t last too long with all the traveling, nor through the hands of overworked airport baggage handlers. You can find new-age vintage remake steamer trunks by Rhino Trunks if that interests you, but at 120 lbs a piece, I wouldn’t try to fly with them!

Even so, some vintage cases can be really great to use. I have been using a hard shelled Travelgard Luggage 1950’s Suitcase for about ten years, just like in this photo, painted gold, and it’s been a dream!

Fairly light, often permitted as carry on luggage, durable, woodbuilt, lined. Excuse the cliche, but they don’t make cases like these anymore. If you can find something like this in your local antique store, it’s a steal.

Pros: They can add a unique touch, inexpensive, and easy to find.
Cons: No wheels
Size: Depends on the vintage case.
Weight: Wood cases are heavy, unless you get the small lightweight versions, which are then fragile.
Cost: $15 to $500, depending on the case
Where to buy: Vintage stores, ebay, or you can get them new

Flight cases/ Custom cases


Roadie cases are some of the best known world wide cases. Mostly wood interior with vinyl outside, these cases are reasonably durable, built for the task, and you can stand on them. Used widely throughout the world for every music tour ever known, these have been tried and tested, and are true tour companions for every band you’ve ever loved.

Custom to your preference with many shapes, sizes and durability ratings. My choice would be RCTRUNK-ROAD-CUBE-CUSTOM option.

Options: Color, bare wood interiors, wheels ¼” plywood or ⅜” plywood

Size: 16” X 16” X 16”
Weight: 15.00 LBS
Cost: $257.00 USD
Where to buy:

Roadie is the most well known custom build travel box, but here are a couple of local case makers that buskers have used over the years.

Flycases from Spain makes custom cases with buskers in mind:

Check out this mini-bike ramp built into the design of this case!


Gator Cases are interesting as they will custom build you a trunk, but they also offer injection molded or soft shell casing options!

Swan Flight Cases (from the UK)

Dinosaur Cases (from Vancouver)

Aluminium Storage Trunks

Viking Aluminum Cases

The Defender KA94 22 litre Aluminium Storage Box is the smallest Defender case in this range, but it’s a good size. It is the lightest of all the options I have found. Good for dangerous items, like your lithium batteries or fuel for fire shows. Aluminum is also anti-magnetic, rustproof, easy to clean, lockable and watertight. This is the lightest case I have found, coming in at only 4kgs (8lbs). The handles can carry up to 50kgs each and it has good depth and professional presence on your pitch. Bonus, you can probably do that fire trick on these ones!

Size: 42cm x 30.5cm x 26.5 cm
Weight: 4 kg
Cost: £525.34
Where to buy: Website

Zarges Cases

Zarge Cases looks to have some good options for aluminum cases, and is cheaper and you can lock them. Bonus, they are bear resistant, if you are in case you are camping in bear country.

Size: Many sizes available
Weight: 11lbs
Cost: $280
Buy Online: here

Pelican Injection Molded cases

Affectionately known as Peli-cases in busker lingo. It’s so popular among buskers that it’s become an inside joke. This year I shelled out for one at the beginning of season and It’s truly amazing. As famous hula hooper Lisa Lottie said on facebook, “Nothing says you mean business like a Pelican Air and also it’s the only case in the whole world people are more interested in than a hula hoop bag at airports.”

Pros: They are easy to lock to something if you need to leave them unattended. You can stand on it, it’s practically bomb proof, and it has a true lifetime warranty. (Paraphrased from this thread)
Cons: Only has 2 wheels

Pelican Air

The Pelican is standard because you can bring the on flights at maximum capacity. I really wanted the orange one, but in Canada it seems you can only get them in Black across the board. I called and checked.

This Pelican Air is packed and has one of those vintage Travel Guard cases buried in it, with 14 wooden letters inside that. It went on the plane at its full 25kgs limit. That’s a heavy haul for out and about the city but for a travel day, it fits everything and I had the smallest one for the actual set piece on stage when I arrived. I also lost 2kgs that week, probably from lifting 25kgs everywhere for 2 days of travel.

Buy online: here

1770 Black With Pluck Foam

David Aiken from the Busker Hall of Fame specifically recommended to me a Pelican Case, more specifically, the 1770 Black With Pluck Foam. This case is 5 feet long and can fit tall items like stilts, unicycles or large poles for circle shows with special needs. Yet, it can still fit in most cars. It is lightweight and durable. The case is lockable, rust proof, crush proof, has polyurethane wheels, handles for carrying, and has fungal growth resistance.

Size: 54.58″L x 15.58″W x 8.63″D inside
Weight: 36 lbs (16.32 kg)
Cost: $493.00
Buy online: here.



I don’t have the Samsonite case that all the buskers use, but I have a Samsonite and they are hardy bags. Other cloth cases I have bought have crumbled under the duress of my lifestyle and can’t hack it. Samsonites are built to last, and also have replaceable locks and catches if they break. The mega bonus is that Samsonites are spinner luggage which means it has 4 wheels and you can walk with it much more easily than with any of the above luggage. Cons are that they are less stand-onable, the wheels are weaker than a 2 wheeler, and and you can’t do that fun fire trick. That said, this is a practical way to carry your gear!
Here is the versions that are popular with other buskers:

Size : 27.9 x 41.9 x 61 cm ; 3.86 Kg
Shipping Weight: 4.5 Kg
Buy Online: here.

Product Dimensions: 27.9 x 41.9 x 61 cm ; 3.86 Kg
Shipping Weight: 4.5 Kg
Buy Online: here.

Goodluck on your case hunting!

So what’s the best case for you?

That choice can make or break your show, and even give you injuries dragging it across town. Can you fit a 10 foot unicycle in it? A chinese pole? Is it wide enough to put the torches in too? Where will the amplifier or instruments go when you are carrying all of it, by yourself, through crowded sidewalks at rush hour?

Also, is it durable? Can you handle the size? Does it give your show the right look? Does it blend? Can you stand on it? Can it fit a sign with your name on it? Can you get inside it and pop out like a jack-in-the-box? Can you light it on fire just-the-right-way for effect? Will you need a dolly to lug it around? Will a dolly fit in the case during the show? More importantly, can you lug it around after 3 full shows in the hot sun, when you have a touch of sunstroke and you’ve been carrying it all day already? Can you lock it to a bike rack so it’s safe while you pee? Can it be checked at the airport? Can you carry it up 5 separate sets of staircases through the London Underground while dressed in a skin tight golden statue costume in heels? And, most of all, what kind of case best fits your show?

Okay, so as you can tell, I am a travel case nerd, and if I ever settled down my house would be filled with trunk inspired furniture. What trunk to buy has been one of the biggest questions of my busking journey. I have already dropped a small fortune on them over the years trying and testing cases for different purposes (and different shows).

Here’s my current collection:

Did I mention I am a nerd?

While I’m nerding out, did you know the word “trunk of your car” was because they used to just strap travel trunks to the back?

Anyway, here’s what I have learned over the years. Hopefully it’ll help you pick the right case!

About the Author

Some of Dawn’s experiences include: living in a converted convent in provincial France working on a 40 minute solo show focused on juggling letters of the alphabet; hula hooping with a samba band during a thunderstorm at a clown convention in Rio de Janeiro; performing a 40 minute one woman juggling show to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade with a full orchestra in Ontario, Canada; and stilt walking up mountains through to a group of hula hooping child monks in Thailand; and being pepper sprayed by a riot canon while juggling for a crowd during university riots.

Dawn is also a busking advocate who has been working alongside busk.co since 2011. Oh, and she’s pretty good at contact juggling.


Photo of Martin Ewen Taken by Sarah Blodgett