Summer is finally here and with it comes the possibility to paint plein air and explore new locations. Most of us are hoping to get out of the country and spend some holiday elsewhere, take a painting course in Italy or check into an artist retreat in rural France. If you are travelling with artist materials and taking a plane, you are most likely dreading security checks. What can you take on board, check into the cargo and what restrictions do you need to consider to avoid your equipment being confiscated? In this article we hope to shine some light on some of the rules and regulations of air travel, help you prepare with the right materials and sizes and offer some practical advice on what to do when your materials fall into the absolute no-no category.
When it comes to air travel, hand luggage tends to be the most restricted of all, so it is always best to put whatever fits into your checked-in bags. If you have to use your hand luggage space for your art supplies, here are the most important things to look out for:
- Liquid restrictions – Keep all your liquids in a (20 x 20 cm) transparent and sealable bag which you can pick up at most airports. The maximum amount of liquid you can pack is a combined 1 litre. No container size can exceed 100 ml and prepare to put your art supplies together with your toiletries!
- You can include the following without restriction: paper, brushes, watercolour pans and other dry supplies such as crayons, pencils, etc. Keep these together in a case, or wrapped in a towel, so if your luggage is selected for a check, you can easily show that you are carrying art supplies that are suitable for transporting in a hand luggage without having to unpack your entire suitcase.
- You are allowed to carry tubes of paint on board, be it watercolour or acrylic. Oil paints may pass security checks, however, we advise putting them in your checked in luggage. Take good care following liquid restrictions, limit the number of paint tubes to the essentials or, if you can, put them all in your checked-in luggage.
- It is a smart idea to print out an MSDS (Material Security Data Sheet) for all your chemical based items whether they are travelling in the cabin or cargo. This will serve as a proof that your materials are safe for air travel. You can download these data sheets from our website here or from the manufacturer’s website.
As a rule, use this space for your restricted items that cannot travel in the cabin with you, but are still deemed safe for air travel. Here is what to look out for:
- Put all your liquid-based items (paints, mediums, etc.) in your checked in luggage if possible. It is less likely to cause you a hassle and you are not restricted on volumes. Make sure that you check each item is safe for air travel.
- Keep all your art supplies in a separate bag. They will be easier to access and kept separate from the rest of your luggage’s content in case you need to show them.
- Keep a list of your art supplies as a short-hand and keep them together with your MSDS sheets.
- Strictly no flammable or combustible materials – no sprays, varnishes or solvents with ‘dangerous’ labels. You will not be able to bring these on board, not even in the cargo. MSDS sheets are your best friends here: look out for the item’s flashpoint. Anything well above 61 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit) is legally suitable for air travel, but consider excluding any items with a flashpoint close to this number.
- Items need to be in their original container with labels on. Unidentifiable products are likely to be confiscated.
- Paints should be kept in a waterproof bag whether in the cabin on cargo in case they leak.
Items Not Safe For Air Travel
If you need art supplies on your holiday that are excluded from air travel, such as certain oil paints, mediums or solvents, here is what you can do:
- Order them ahead of the time and have them delivered to your holiday location. Most European countries have road service for international couriers and you can have your dangerous items sent this way, avoiding air travel (always check with your supplier). Artist’s Resorts are used to accepting parcels for their future guests: make arrangements with your sender so that your hosts can sign for your parcel.
- Check if there is a good art supplies store locally. Some of your usual brands might not be available in every country but look at it this way: this is your chance to find alternatives and you might even discover amazing products that you will want to keep in your usual repertoire!
- If you are worried that you will not have everything available to you – especially if you are an oil painter – why not try a new medium? Dry watercolour pans are a safe bet and you will only need a few brushes and a pad of paper to go with!
Lawrence’s Guide to Travel Accessories
Here are a few products that we think could help you while travelling or when you are on your location.
Aluminium Tripod Easel
This easel can be easily carried while on holiday. It folds up to the third of its size and can be used even with moderately large (up to 115 cm tall) canvases. Perfect for plein air! Order it here.
This handy brush roll is perfect for transporting your brushes, pencils and other art tools. It has a synthetic, waterproof outer lining and an absorbent inside to keep your brushes in good condition. Order it here.
This compact art bin comes with two or three trays to keep all your materials safe and in one place. Perfect when you are used to work in a studio and don’t want to compromise on what you take for your trip. Order it here.
Made of a durable polythene material, this tube can be adjusted to fit a variety of paper sizes to carry your art work safely. Perfect for travel. Order it here.
A safe way to keep your artwork in one place. This affordable portfolio is made of quality nylon and it has a strong and comfortable carrying handle and shoulder strap. Order it here.
This concludes our guide to travelling with art materials. We hope this article helped answer some of your questions about travelling with art supplies and see you in our next blog post!