5 Easy Ways To Create Art On Your Travels

5 Easy Ways To Create Art On Your Travels

Printing out photos and displaying them on your walls can be a fantastic way to capture your adventures. We take photos on our phones ‘til we’re blue in the face. And while it’s great to have a stockpile of travel shots to post to our feeds, those experiences will fade unless we get them off our phones. 

But…don’t you secretly wish you’d had your art supplies on hand to capture some of those magical moments? That dreamy landscape or corner café on your recent trip to France. Perhaps the time you hiked a mountaintop in Colorado or took a cooking class in Chianti.

Budapest illustration in sketchbook

You can, of course, recreate these scenes when you return home. But deep down, you know that an impromptu sketch or watercolor “in the moment” would have truly captured that feeling for-e-vah

A simple rendering with some travel-friendly tools will not only kick things up a notch on your walls (who wouldn’t be mesmerized by a hand-drawn sunset over a Tuscan vineyard?) but also capture a time and a feeling that a photo simply can’t.

And, if you’re really feelin’ it, you can even take scans on a phone app and send artistic postcards while you’re still traveling.

Rose illustration

So, let’s give it a go! I’m breaking down five easy ways for you to create art on your next dream vacay.

Don’t worry, I’m only suggesting the minimum quantity of art supplies to tote around. We all know you’re gonna need that extra suitcase space for shopping! 😆




They’re super easy to use (you used them as a kid, right?) but level up your experience with these acrylic paint markers by Posca. They come in various sizes, so mix it up and choose a variety of widths to give your art interest. Paint markers are a great alternative to traveling with paints. The liquid acrylics allow you to build up opaque layers, making it possible to add lighter colors over darker backgrounds – think twinkling lights on the Eiffel Tower over a star-studded sky.  

Suggested quantity: 14 markers in a variety of colors (7 wide, 7 thin)
Paper: Medium to heavyweight. You can slip a few sheets in your suitcase or carry a small sketchbook such as the Strathmore Hardbound 500 Series Mixed Media Art Journal or a softcover one from the Stillman & Bern series.

Colored Pencils


You'll need to pack a small pencil sharpener, but choose colored pencils that don’t break easily and won’t need much sharpening. Also, consider the quality of the pigments. Student-grade pencils are cheaper, but the colors are less vibrant or lightfast than artist-grade pencils. Artist-grade pencils typically have a “softcore” which means they’re better for layering and blending colors.

Suggested quantity: 16 pencils, including black and white
Paper: Take a few sheets of the Strathmore 400 Series Colored Pencil Pad or the Koh-I-Noor Bristol Pad. Many brands sell their paper in 9 x 12” sheets and larger. You can always buy larger sheets and cut them down for your travels.

Watercolor paints


Watercolor is a great way to create that loose, impromptu sketch you’re longing for. The beauty of watercolor is its unpredictability. Take advantage of its flowy pigments to force you to create quick studies. After all, you're traveling and want to spend time soaking in the sights, not on hours of illustrating. You can create more detailed illustrations when you get home. Purchase a small travel watercolor set such as the Raphael Watercolor Set, or take it to the pro level with the Winsor & Newton Travel Watercolor Set

Suggested quantity: Purchase a travel set that comes in a tin with at least 12 paints
Paper: Medium to heavyweight. You can find both softcover and hardcover journals.

Ink Paints


Ink paints, such as the Derwent Inktense Paint Set, are a great alternative to watercolor paints. Unlike traditional watercolors, Inktense paints can be worked over without dissolving the previously dried layers. They come in a variety of vibrant, intense colors that fix once dry. You have the flexibility of adding more water to create lighter washes, much like watercolor paint.

Suggested quantity: Purchase a travel art kit in a tin with at least 12 paints
Paper: Medium to heavyweight. You can find both softcover and hardcover journals.

Pastel pencils


Pastel pencils give you the flexibility of blending colors without the dust of pastel sticks. The pencils are made of pure pigment with a binder, giving you a broad range of vibrant colors. Unlike colored pencils, pastel pencils can cover a larger area and are much quicker to work with. However, they’re harder to keep sharpened to a point. You will also have to protect your art from smudging with either tracing paper or spray fixative. I recommend traveling with tracing paper and framing your art behind glass or using a spray fixative when you get home. 

Suggested quantity: Purchase a mini travel art set that comes in a tin with at least 12 paints or select at least 12 pencils of your own color choice.
Paper: You have many options on paper thickness and can select either a textured or smooth surface. Then experiment to find which paper you most enjoy using. If using pastel paper, you might have to buy larger sheets and cut them down in size for traveling. Or you can use a sketchbook, such as the Strathmore 400 Series Drawing Art Journals or Strathmore Hardbound 500 Series Mixed Media Art Journal.