A Sturdy Backpack or Roller-Bag for Carry-on

This will hold your pastel palette, but not necessarily your easel setup and or tripod but it could. I travel with a smaller roller bag that I carry-on and a larger bag that I check. I distribute what I need between both bags which means sometimes I’m mixing cloths and personal items with art supplies. That’s ok, as long as I keep the things clean or in plastic bags that could stain my cloths.

The most important item is a sturdy carrying box for the pastels. I want to keep them from breaking. I also want to keep my load as light as possible. For my trip to Italy, I’m going to bring my smallest Heilman box. I may be compromising a bit on the number of pastels, but I know my back and knees with thank me later. When I’m traveling in the USA, for workshops, I bring my backpack size box.


This should be good quality. Make sure you are using a tripod that will hold up to the weight of your box and be able to withstand some windy conditions. I have a tripod from Art Essentials with a quick release head that attaches to my pastel box. It’s sturdy without being too, too heavy.

Backing Board/Painting Surface

This backing board should be of a size that fits in your luggage. Measure carefully. I use two pieces of gator board which is very rigid yet lightweight. I clip these together for more support and then use the two to sandwich finished pastels for easy transport. The gator board is made of very dense and durable material that will resist crushing. Pieces of glassine between your pastels will make using this sandwich to transport your finished work home easy and lightweight.


For my trip to Italy, I’m going to pre-cut my paper to the sizes I’ll work and plan for each painting outing ahead of time. I’ll allow for a few extra pieces, but I’m not going to go overboard. Planning just the right amount of paper is tricky, but I’ll give it a shot. We will be concentrating on field studies so I won’t need more than a few larger pieces. I’m going to go so far as to prepare the glassine for each piece of paper that I bring!

Getting through Security

It’s a complete mystery to me how one airport scrutinizes my pastels and another could seem to care less about them! But, I never know, so I’m always prepared for a long trip through security. I try to be sure that everything else is easy; my shoes, my jewelry, make sure my pockets are empty and I don’t have any liquids, or pointy, sharp things! Basically, I prepare so the only thing I know I might have to worry about is those pastels.

I highly recommend that you carry-on your pastels. Also, I always alert the agent that they are “ART CHALKS” a term that is very generic and they understand better than pastels which sort of implies something more exotic! I am very, very polite and patient and tell them they are very fragile and valuable and could I please TELL them how to open the box without damaging them. They do not want you to open the box.They want to do it!

Patience is the key here! I allow lots and lots of time at the airport. Sometimes they want to open the box and inspect everything and test it etc., etc. other times it just sails right through. Some artists think it might have something to do with how they are organized; if you have them more neatly lined up, they may look more like bullets or explosives! I don’t really know! I’ve never had any trouble getting through or having my pastels taken from me or had to leave them behind. It’s just a matter of patience!


I hope this and the video help!

With Warmest Regards,


Painting Minilessons
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