By the time this post goes up, I’ll be on vacation in Canada. As I was preparing to pack (and thinking about what to write in advance for this blog), I decided that I would share about my travel art kit.
If you’re a creative therapist, you hopefully make some time for your own art-making in your life. So, you may have occasion to be packing some traveling art supplies, either to bring on a trip or to carry around in your bag to use when you have free time. (If you’re not making art, you should make time for it! Art-making is excellent self-care. Did you see the latest research from Drexel that showed that art-making reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, regardless of your skill level?)
Unfortunately, I never do as much art as I hope to on vacations, but I always like to bring some art supplies with me. And my son is getting more and more interested in drawing and painting, especially when he sees me doing it, so I thought that some art supplies might help with toddler boredom on the airplane.
Thinking about a traveling art kit was also making me think about my past time spent as a “traveling” art therapist. Most of the time, art therapy is done in the therapist’s office, where we ideally have lots of awesome supplies for our clients to use. But I have also had jobs where I had to travel where the client is, doing both home-based therapy and school visit therapy. I didn’t want to stop doing art therapy, so I put together an on-the-go art therapy box. Although lots of different media and supplies are great, art therapy really only requires the therapist, the client, a single art medium, and a surface to create on.
So, here’s what has ended up in my traveling art kits…
My current travel kit for vacation is minimal and small because it needs to fit easily in my carry-on bag, along with all the other things that a traveling toddler will need. This is the type of art kit that would be easy to throw into a large purse. Everything would fit into a pencil bag, but I put mine into a clear zipper pouch that I had.
My Mini Travel Art Kit
- Small Journal or Sketchpad*
- High-Polymer Eraser
- Black Micron Pen
- Travel Watercolor Set (mine is Winsor & Newton)
- Full sized Watercolor Brush
- Mini Colored Pencils (I have Xonex Micro Colored Pencils)
- Markers (For the adult version, I would bring my Tombow Dual Brush ones, but for my kid-friendly version, I got Crayola Washable PipSqueaks)
- Baby wipes for clean-up
* I have a small journal for myself and made my son a small journal from a recycled file folder and scrap paper. Cut the folder in half and fold for the cover. Fold paper in half and staple down the center crease. Use tape along the front page and the back page to secure to the cover.
My Travel Art Therapy Kit
- Plastic storage box to hold everything (mine is from Target). You can also use a file storage box, messenger bag/satchel, etc. I like the box because it doubles as a surface to draw on, so if you’re using some kind of bag, make sure to include a clipboard.
- Layer of collage images
- Drawing paper
- Colored Pencils
- Pencil and sharpener (or mechanical pencils)
- Glue Stick
Your on-the-go art therapy kit can be as elaborate or simple as you want. You could also add…
- Oil or chalk pastels
- Construction paper or other colored paper
- Watercolors and brushes
- Watercolor pencils or crayons
- Water brush
- Modeling clay
- Wipes for clean-up
* Be mindful of your therapy setting when choosing supplies for community-based services; you don’t want to bring messy materials if the client won’t really be able to use them.
Do you have a travel art kit for yourself or to use in therapy sessions? I’d love to hear what you’ve included. Is there anything that you consider a “must-have” item for traveling art?
Carolyn Mehlomakulu is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Registered Art Therapist in Austin, Texas who works with children, teens, and families. For more information about individual therapy, adolescent and child counseling, family therapy, teen group therapy, and art therapy services, please visit: www.therapywithcarolyn.com.
This blog is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental health conditions. All directives, interventions, and ideas should be used by qualified individuals within the appropriate bounds of their education, training, and scope of practice. Information presented in this blog does not replace professional training in mental health, psychotherapy, counseling, art therapy, or play therapy. Although anyone can have a healing experience with art, art therapy requires the direction of a trained art therapist.
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