Sam Maher plays his way around the world

Carmen and I are always moaning about the size and weight of our backpacks. Just like Goldilocks cadging hot porridge from the Three Bears, we continuously search for a combination that’s just right.

But I met a bloke the other day who’s backpacking arrangements go far beyond anything I’d haul around. Just imagine lugging this thing around South America:

Sam and his trusty instrument

Sam and his trusty instrument

Meet Sam Maher, a musician, writer and traveller from our home town of Perth, Western Australia who’s just travelled the length and breadth of Central and South America with his girlfriend. And he hauled this unique instrument around, as well as a backpack, for entire adventure.

The object he’s holding is most commonly called a Hand Pan. This fascinating shape is one of the newest instruments being played in the world today.

The Hand Pan is an evolution of the Hang, an idiophone style instrument created by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer in Switzerland through their company PANArt Hangbau AG. Each one is unique and highly sought after.

Photo from

The Hand Pan is a precision instrument, designed mathematically and drawing on years of research into other kinds of musical devices from all around the world to create a new sound and playing style.

When Sam first saw and heard one being played he knew he had to have one. He drew on his experience as a drummer and taught himself to play the Hand Pan through trial and error, eventually developing his own style of playing and interaction with the instrument.

And when it came time to hit the road, he thought he might as well take it along. This decision allowed him to access a level of travel that most of us have no idea about.Wherever he played, local people would reach out and welcome him into their lives. Sam’s Hand Pan became a key that turned the locks for some truly remarkable experiences.

If you’d like to hear the music and the stories behind it, check out the video above – Sam plays an amazing tune for you and spins a few yarns from his adventures busking across the Americas. You can check out some of his travel tales here as well.

Have you ever met a travelling musician?

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About the author

Dave is the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel and has been nomadic since May 2013. When he's not busily working on a novel, he can be found exploring a war museum, sailing a yacht (unfortunately not his own), or hiking up a mountain.

3 comments on “Sam Maher plays his way around the world”

  1. Harald Juengst Reply

    My name is Harald from Germany .

    I wonder do you have an email contact on Sam Maher .

    I would like to ask him a few questions on the handpan.

    Kindest regards


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