One Artist's Best Tips & Tricks for How to Travel with Art Supplies

Artist Teresa Roberts Logan shares her favorite secrets for traveling with art and adult coloring supplies!

Summer’s here, and it seems like everyone is traveling or planning to soon.

I travel a lot, and I always like to have art supplies with me. I also like to work in several media, which means I need to find ways to make a wide array of my art supplies travel-friendly. I’ve come up with some solutions for myself, and found other ways to make my goal of no-checked-luggage a reality!

I’ve traveled with my art supplies to Canada, Mexico, Scotland, England, Belize, and all over the U.S., on planes, trains, automobiles, ferries, and ships . . . and I’m telling you, it adds an extra dimension of joy to every trip! For my part, I simply can’t live without them. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want them to be easy to take along.

If you are traveling by car or train, it’s easy to just throw everything in your bag. (That means it’s also easy to over-pack. I find that I will always choose art supplies over clothing, but that’s just me!) My favorite way to make sure I have all the tools I need without having to pack up my whole studio is to always have a small DIY “art travel kit” at the ready.

What to Keep in Your DIY Art Travel Kit

Paper in DVD CaseTo start, I always have pens, pencils, and one or two sketchbooks with me. I am a person who remains sane by drawing so having sketchbooks on hand is a must. (“Sane” is debatable, but that’s another story!) I usually carry one medium or large multimedia sketchbook (such as a Moleskine Art Plus, Moleskine Watercolor, or Canson XL), and one smaller (5x8in) mixed-media notebook. Depending on the length of my trip, I might switch one of these out for a small packet of multimedia paper, or printouts—like the coloring pages you find here!—printed on a good multimedia paper that will stand up to watercolors.

Watercolor pencils are also a good travel-friendly option because they make it easy to work in water-based media while on the road. Caran d’Ache is my favorite brand for watercolor pencils—I like the Supracolor Soft line. I also love Derwent’s water-soluble Inktense pencils—especially the “Black Ink” color, which I always have on hand for sketching and drawing just about anything (it is the blackest black pencil I’ve found!).

To go with the watercolor pencils, I always travel with some brushes. I usually take along one or two “normal” brushes, something to hold water (like a small container meant for dressing or a collapsible water well), and an water brush (like this set of six water brush pens!)

Gouache—or opaque watercolor—is another great travel-friendly art supply. Unlike with traditional watercolors or watercolor pencils, which leave a light layer of paint that you can see the paper through, when gouache is applied to paper it totally covers the surface and you can’t see through it. It comes in tubes (like acrylic paints), and it’s super easy to create your own portable watercolor set using these tubes of paint (more on that in a minute!).

If more traditional adult coloring tools like colored pencils or markers are more your thing, I recommend a travel-friendly canvas pencil wrap to hold your favorite tools. Don’t feel like you need to bring a whole set of pencils and pens in a variety of colors—a select handful will do the trick (and might even force you to be more creative with your color palettes & blending!).

How to Pack It

Traveling Art SuppliesSo how should you pack up all these goodies for travel? Here are some creative tips for putting together your own customized traveling art kit:

  • Make your own set of watercolors! Place five screw-top wine bottle caps or soda bottle caps in an empty Altoids tin. Fill each bottle cap with gouache or watercolor paint from a tube. Pro tip: Don’t glue the caps in—that way, you can change out the colors however you like!
  • Use an old cassette case or an old Altoids tin to carry a few watercolor half pans and a collapsible water brush in one easy-to-grab container.
  • Repurpose DVD cases to carry paper. It could be scrapbook paper, watercolor paper, or printed coloring pages! Just mix and match your favorite papers, cut to size if needed, and use a rubber band to attach your pens and brushes to the outside of the case.
  • Have an old one of those makeup compacts with a magnet in the bottom to hold pans or eyeshadow or blush? I use mine to hold metal bottle caps filled with gouache. (P.S. If you’re in to lettering, this is a great tip for transporting pen nibs!


There are many different ways to travel with your art—these are a few of my favorites. What ideas do you have, to make sure your art fits into your life?

Tags: Teresa Roberts Logan, Tips & Techniques