How to Find the Best Watercolor Travel Set for Painting on the Go
It can be challenging to make time for art, so what better time to be ready to make art than while you’re traveling on vacation? If you’re an art lover or you know one, you know how much it means for an artist to have quality art supplies available when inspiration strikes.
However, art— especially painting— can get quite messy.
The good thing about water colors is that they’re relatively mess-free and TSA-approved for carry-ons whenever they’re in solid form.
Having a travel watercolor kit can make a 4+ hour flight or ride more bearable.
I know that when I travel, my senses come alive, and it’s fun to let my new surroundings turn into inspiration for art. Watercolor depictions of streets of Paris done in person, for example, are far more unique than just photographs on an iPhone. Plus, they make great postcards!
Traveling with watercolor supplies
It is important to know the flight restrictions for other materials you might want to bring alongside your watercolors. Anything with a pointed tip or that could be considered “sharp” must go in a checked bag.
Varnish or any flammable liquid is banned all together on a plane. If you want to bring some existing paintings with you, you’ll want to pack them inside a portfolio or see if you can carry them on the plane with you.
Now, for a watercolor travel kit, everything we’ve mentioned til now has been about solid watercolor paints. Some artists do like to use liquid watercolors and might want to bring these on the plane with us.
Liquid watercolors on a plane are fine, as long as each paint tube is less than 3.4 ounces. Make sure to check the tubes or containers of liquid watercolor paints before you try to bring them on the plane!
Honestly, before you bring anything on that isn’t “technically” essential, you should double check the latest TSA guidelines as rules related to liquids have been changing.
Even with these rules and regulations on the planes (especially), trains, and buses, you shouldn’t let the art stop.
Up next, we’ve got a list for you for the best watercolor travel sets. Afterwards, we’re throwing in some extras, like canvases and extra brushes, that you can also bring on board with you.
Sennelier L’Aquarelle’s Honey-Based Travel Set, – Top Paint Quality
• Dimensions: 6 1/4″ x 3 7/8″ x 1 1/4″.
• Weigh: (approx.) 6-7 oz (compare to 1-2 sticks of butter)
This is a honey-based, less toxic alternative that many like for the paints’ textures and ultra-high concentrations.
The whole set isn’t much bigger than your iphone (in terms of length and width, not depth).
Why We Love Sennelier L’Aquarelle’s Honey-Based Travel Set
Even better, this kit has 14 gorgeous, impressionist-based colors. You read that right— the colors are based on the great impressionist works.
These are great for an artist who’s a fan of the impressionists, such as Van Gogh, and who plans to paint traveling or nature scenes.
Here’s the list of colors it has:
Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Deep, Phthalocyanine Blue, Warm Sepia, Lemon Yellow, Carmine, French Vermilion, Alizarin Crimson, Payne’s Gray, Phthalocyanine Green Light, Forest Green, Dioxazine Purple, Raw Umber, Cinereous Blue, Naples Yellow Deep, Bright Red, Venetian Red, and Ivory Black.
Because they grind the pigments more finely, the cubes have a more concentrated pigment and smoother texture.
The honey-based solution is not only wonderfully natural, but it also gives longevity to the paint tabs. It also keeps the paint from becoming muddy. In other words, between the honey base and the pigment concentration, this paint set has a long life.
Users online report that this set creates more luminous and vibrant hues than the average watercolor set.
Overall, here’s a summary of the pros & cons of the Sennelier L’Aquarelle’s Honey-based Travel Set:
- Very concentrated color
- Contains some natural products (honey-based)
- Vibrant hues based on impressionists’ colors
- Small size and tray for convenience
- Professional quality watercolor paints
- Case cover is will need a rubber band likely
- It has only 1 brush, so you might need a couple of extras
Who’s This For?
With its professional quality paints, this is suitable for someone with experience in painting or even a professional artist. They’ll need a rubber band just in case the cover comes loose, however.
If they are a professional artist, they’ll probably prefer a pocket brush set (see at the end of this artist).
Lightwish’s MeiLiang Watercolor Pocket Box Paint Set, with 36 Colors and Brush – Pocket Sized Case
Overall, this metal “pocket box” measures 9.2” X 3.8” X 1”. It might be just a bit big for most of our pockets, but it still has a travel-friendly size.
We Love the MeiLiang Watercolor Pocket Box Travel Set
We love its 36 vibrant colors. The colors are coated in arabic gum for added gloss and for a stronger intensity.
The metal case has a mixing tray just opposite to the colors, which unfolds when you open the piece.
They’ve also thrown in a synthetic, round-tip watercolor brush.
Many users say this is perfect for art students, as well as hobbyists and kids.
Overall, here’s a summary of the pros & cons of the MeiLiang Watercolor Pocket Box Travel Set:
- Intense pigments
- 36 colors
- Glossed for smooth texture
- High quality (many report to be better than the Winsor Newton brand)
- Durable, metal tin that stays closed
- Brush included
- Only 1 brush (may need additional brushes)
- Colors dry more transparent than expected, from Arabic gum
Who is this for?
This is great for anyone— art student, artist, kid, or adult beginner.
Also available in the 12-color, 24-color, 30-color, & even 48-color versions, this basic travel kit is another great option for painters on the go.
It’s so small (at 1.25” X 4.65” X 8”), that it can fit inside a shirt pocket.
Why We Love Sakura’s XNCW-18N, Watercolor Field Sketch Set
First off, this set is ultra convenient with its light, compact design. For easy gripping, they’ve installed a metal ring on the bottom.
While it is made of plastic, this does mean it’ll be lightweight. With this set, you get all the necessary basics (& many more, depending on the version you get).
As far as the paint quality, we’d say it’s average. Its refillable water brush comes apart, so you can easily fill it up with water, use it, and then take it apart for easy storage.
Overall, here’s a summary of the pros & cons of Sakura’s XNCW-18N, Watercolor Field Sketch Set:
- Contains a refillable brush (that you can also dissemble)
- Variety of versions available
- Ultra small size available, and compact
- Ultra lightweight
- Ring for easy grip while painting
- Blendable colors
- Flimsy case (plastic, less durable)
- Only one brush
- Average quality (nothing spectacular to the overall quality)
Who is this for?
This set is more suitable for beginners and light hobbyists.
Jerry Q 24-ct Watercolor Travel Set, Best Budget-Friendly Pick
This set includes a plastic pocket containers (with pallet, storage, and mixing trays), 24 colors, a sea sponge, a porcelain calligraphy dish, and a watercolor brush.
In total, the case measures out to 8” X 4”.
Why We Love the Jerry Q 24-ct Watercolor Travel Set
For just 12 bucks, this set is a great deal. You’ll have almost everything you need, besides the canvas sheets and perhaps some extra brushes.
For a skilled color mixer, this set has all the essential colors. We also love its natural sea sponge and porcelain calligraphy dish. This enables so much more creativity and convenience. After opening, the inner trays swing out and snap to the side for additional mixing space.
However, when you’re finished, the whole piece is incredibly compact and lightweight.
Overall, here’s a summary of the Jerry Q 24-ct Watercolor Travel Set:
- Extremely travel-friendly
- Lightweight and compact
- All essential colors
- Includes high quality extras that aren’t common in competitors
- Very low price (on Amazon)
- Alternative versions available
- Doesn’t contain sheets or additional brushes
- Container isn’t as durable as metal (plastic container)
Who is this for?
This set is more ideal for either a beginner or someone who’s a master mixer. The colors require know-how in mixing.
The quality is pretty basic, so it’s suitable for beginners.
Artistro Watercolor Paint Set, 48-ct with Metallic & Fluorescent Tones – Best Overall Watercolor Travel Kit
This box measures out 8.07” X 3.7” X 1.65” in size and about 12.7 ounces in weight.
Why We Love Artistro Watercolor Paint Set, 48-ct with Metallic & Fluorescent Tones
This watercolor travel kit has an inspiring amount of watercolor paints and even variations like metallic and fluorescents.
Look, below, at these gorgeous colors!
Besides the watercolor paints, we love its extra contents. It has not 1— but 2 paint brushes (one water brush and one standard, small brush). You’ll notice you don’t really need to get anything else with this kit.
It has 10 sheets, or canvases (7” X 3”), a sponge, an eraser, and a pencil, all encased within a beautiful, secure, and durable metal box.
Overall, here’s a summary of the Artistro Watercolor Paint Set, 48-ct with Metallic & Fluorescent Tones:
- A true All-in-One Set
- Secure and durable tin box container
- Small, compact size
- Amazing variety of colors and color types for its size
- Above-average features for decent price
- Extra art supplies
- High quality paint
- Some of the colors may be unnecessary for pros and then difficult to blend for amateurs
- Not very gender-neutral casing / doesn’t have a more masculine version
Who’s this for?
Their travel watercolor kits are definitely more on the feminine side, if you look at the design on the front of the tin box. However, the box is tidy and someone could always slap a sticker over the top to make it less frilly if he or she preferred; it’s practical and would suit anyone who wanted an all-in-one set.
Don’t forget these other travel essentials!
Watercolor Canvas Packs
- 7” X 10” = ideal size
- 30 sheets
- Textured & suitable for multiple mediums
- 9” x 12” Side wire version and other sizes, fold-over, etc., versions available
- 10” X 14” & 11.69” X 16.53” for larger works
- Cold pressed, hot pressed, and rough textures available
- 12 sheets
- Coated with natural gelatin
- Made by traditional method, in cylinder molds
- Long fibers
Watercolor Brushes (Travel-Size)
- Leather portable case (5.32” X 2.37”)
- Synthetic sable / nylon hair
- Nickel=plated handle
- Cured for spring and resilience
- Ergonomic, containing handle for extended length
- Synthetic brush
- 5 total brushes (3 round in sizes 1,2, & 4, and 2 flat in sizes 3 &4)
- Extra-durable magnetic case that bends back for convenient brush access
- Overall, extremely durable, user-friendly, & pocket-sized