I admit I am TERRIBLE at packing the right clothes for a trip (always too many…always missing something…)—but I am happy to say that I have perfected my art journal travel kit.
When I travel I want to travel lightly—but I want to bring no less than what I will really need. That's why I run into problems with clothes. When I pack, I'm always absolutely sure I will need everything—and then I don't wear half of what I bring. At the same time, I inevitably forget an essential item, usually needed for weather I couldn't quite imagine from home.
Been there done that with art supplies too—but I finally arrived at the perfect system for me that takes into account all the variables (although there's just no accounting for weather).
I have brought many a new art journal with me when traveling, along with grand plans to fill all the pages with insight and memorabilia from each trip.
Unfortunately, I always have way too many empty pages when I return.
I finally realized it would be better for me if I just bring my every day life art journal (I now keep an altered composition book going at all times, which at about 9X8" is a perfect size). It just made sense to art journal in my daily journal when I travel, too. I can fill as many or as few pages as I like—and then come home and just keep on going. My life in one place.
With that said, you have to do what makes most sense for you. Some people love filling a new travel journal (purchased or handmade) for every trip. Some people have a dedicated "travel journal" that they fill with multiple trips until it is complete—and then they start a new journal.
Whichever art journal you bring, just be sure to consider size, how you like to work while traveling, and what kind of collection of journals you want sitting on your shelves someday.
Art Journal Supplies
I used to bring some of just about every kind of art supply I owned: acrylic paint and mediums, watercolors, paint tools, ink and stamps, pastels, stencils, papers, tapes, pens, markers, etc. etc.. Well, that didn’t work out too well for a number of reasons:
1. The more supplies means the bigger and heavier the bag. Can’t say that works for traveling lightly.
2. Arting on the road becomes a big production with the need for more time and more space to use all those supplies. Time and space are always in short supply.
3. I just didn’t use them while traveling. I hate bringing stuff I don’t use!
It took a couple of trips to sort it out, but I finally know which supplies I use often and need wherever I go:
- My favorite black and white pens
- Pencils, eraser and sharpener
- Sakura Gelly Roll pens
- Watercolors (travel-sized palette)
- Small scissors
- Glue stick
And that is it!
I have two choices of color mediums to play with—and neither colored pens and watercolors are liquids. Acrylics on the road are way too messy—and difficult to travel with on planes.
I collect papers and ephemera on the road, so I tear and cut and (easily) glue down those to capture my trip, and I can draw, doodle and journal—in color—to my heart’s content. When I return home I can and often do finish embellishing with anything else I have in my art studio—as well as with the ephemera and papers I collected while on the road.
You of course need to determine your own needs. I recommend that you consider 1) how much time and space you have on your trip for your supplies. Obviously a plane trip vs. a car trip and a touring trip vs. a leisurely getaway impact what you bring. Also consider 2) how you like to work while traveling and what supplies you enjoy most.
As you see in the pictures, I have three pencil cases I picked up at the office supply store and they all have binder rings so I can attach them together if I want. I tend to work with one or maybe two packages at any time, however, so most of the time I keep them separated and just pull out the case I need I use.
After trying one case for all, I finally realized I often don't need all the supplies in one sitting, and also, for me, portability is very important. I want to be able to pull out what I need on a plane or at a restaurant or on the side of a hill, so they need to fit easily in a daypack and open easily in small spaces.
The container for your art supplies is a personal choice—and it really does depend on how you work. If your supplies stay in your hotel room, for example, or you have long afternoons where you are staying, you may find that you prefer to travel with one package for all.
I'm sorry I can't help you with how to pack clothes—if you have a good system, please tell me! But I do have my own art journal travel kit down and I hope this gives you some ideas.
Here's to summer getaways and art journaling!