How to Stay Creative While Traveling

A flat lay of a sketchbook, landscape photos, and a watercolor palette on a neutral background

As everyone starts to travel more and explore the world this summer, you might be wondering how it’s possible to stay creative while you’re on the road. Are your art and craft supplies really portable? Will you have time to use them? Can you take your Creativebug classes with you? The answers are 1) YES, 2) YES, 3) and also YES.

Read on and find out or favorite on-the-go projects and art classes with some tips along the way.

Our Top 5 Travel-Friendly Art Ideas

  1. Pencil Sketching – Keep it simple with a sketch book and a pencil or pen. You don’t even need an eraser. With just two tools in your purse or back pack, you’ll be able to make quick sketches whenever inspiration strikes, whether you’re visiting an amazing landscape, historical building, beautiful statue, or family and friends. Think of your travel sketches as casual, relaxed, no-pressure visual notes that you can use as starting points for more complete drawings or paintings when you get home. If you want to sharpen up your skills, we love David Tenorio’s class Urban Sketching 101 which covers drawing people, foliage, and architecture.
Flat lay on white background of a photo of the Victorian houses in San Francisco next to a sketch of a house and tree

2. Watercolor painting – Make a small watercolor kit. You can always find small pre-made watercolor kits at the craft store, but if you want to travel with your own favorite watercolors, Courtney Cerruti shows you how she puts together portable palettes for travel, PLUS, she shares her favorite travel brushes in this live shoot: Watercolor Travel Palette. You just need your own watercolor tube paints, half pans, and a tin such as a Pocket Palette or any vintage tin that you love. Water brushes are also a fun way to take some water with you. Courtney’s class Make Art Where You Are – based on her latest book – is a gentle reminder that even just 5 minutes a day of art is a wonderful practice, and you can take it wherever you go.

Photo collage - on the left, artist Courtney Cerruti's hand holding a watercolor painting in front of a flowers in a garden. On the right - Courtney's book Make Art Where you Are on a book stand on a table with a house plant.

3. Embroidery – A beautiful embroidery project is easy to carry everywhere. With embroidery hoops that can be as small as 1 tiny inch in diameter, and just a few skeins of embroidery floss, you have no excuse to leave your embroidery at home. Even if you’ve never hand embroidered before, the meditative, repetitive stitching is perfect for working on during your down-time or out at the beach or a cafe. If you plan to head out with your hoop, be sure to transfer any patterns to your fabric before you leave. When you’ve finished your project, look out for fun photo ops for your hoop and make your travel memories even more special. Check out Rebecca Ringquist’s Stitch-A-Day Sampler for some basic stitching instructions and explore more embroidery classes such as Lauren from Lark Rising’s Landscape Embroidery for inspiration.

Flat lay on a white table of two hands holding a hand-embroidered landscape of green hills and grey clouds in an embroidery hoop

4. Knitting and CrochetingYou might even be able to take your knit and crochet projects on the plane. The possibility of your hooks, needles, and snips being taken by security is really up to luck and each individual agent, but your chances might be better if you leave the metal at home and travel with bamboo or wooden hooks and needles. For knitters, circular needles can be helpful on trips, along with needle protectors or needle stoppers to ensure your stitches don’t slide off while in transit. Try to bring a small, simple project or one that can be broken down into smaller segments so that you don’t have to work on one gigantic project while you’re out and about. They say that you can take a pair of scissors on a plane if they are less than 4 inches long, but if your small scissors look super pointy, they still might be confiscated (ask us how we know that!). To be super safe on a plane ride, we like these cute and tiny Little Gems snips. Carla Scott’s class How to Knit is a good place to start if you’re a beginner knitter, and Cal Patch teaches a wonderful basic crochet class called Beginner Crochet 1.

Flat lay on a white table showing how to knit with a small pink knit swatch on knitting needles, some small knit projects in blue and yellow, and a pink and grey pom pom

5. Digital Art – Don’t be afraid to go digital. Many traditional artists have a new favorite medium: their tablets/iPads. If you’re used to using a brush and paint, then painting with a computer program might seem intimidating. You definitely want to watch Lindsay Stripling’s class on how to Illustrate in Procreate, which is an amazing drawing app on the iPad. You’ll learn how to use all of the brushes and to organize your work in layers for both personal and professional projects. Going on vacation is a great time to pick up a new skill, especially when you can throw it any bag and chip away at a drawing wherever you go. Android users can check out Autodesk Sketchbook and Photoshop Sketch.

Flat lay on a wooden table showing an iPad with a digital sketch in the app Procreate as well as an Apple pencil.

Download the Creativebug App and Take Your Art Classes with You

You’ll always have an endless source of inspiration and guidance at your fingertips when you download the Creativebug app. If you predict that you might not have internet access at some point on your trip, you can download your favorite classes and watch them offline.

Even if you don’t bring a single art supply with you, don’t forget to snap quick photos of anything that speaks to you while you are away. Flowers, trees, leaves on the ground, animals, architecture, textiles, the sky, packaging on products – you can use all these photos later for mood boards or the seeds of future projects. Bon voyage!