The vacation satchel. What to bring.

I’m going on vacation for a week in Florida. I’m not sure how much, if any, time I will have to write and draw, but I expect there will be some. I tend to think I will have more time to do these kinds of things than I actually do. More accurately, I have the time, but decide to spend it doing something else.

So what to take on vacation? Just a small notebook, or my regular journal? Should I bring my project sheets in case I decide to get organized, or add projects? I probably won’t bother.

What about colored pencils and water colors? I have this vision in my head of sitting on the beach sketching the kids under an umbrella in a beach chair. Of course the obligatory bottle of beer with a wedge of lemon in it sits on a crate nearby. The reality, however, is that there will likely be no umbrella, nor chair, and probably not even the beer. I will be wet, sandy, and helping one daughter or the other build something or playing in the waves.

But only some of the time will be spent at the beach, and we will be visiting relatives. That might also be prime sketching & writing time. Not to mention the 4,000 hour drive to get there. Ok, maybe not that long, but long.

The real question is whether there’s a satchel, per se, or not. We’re driving so the travel-light bug is in dangerous territory already – “Sure I can take that! I’ll just leave it in the car”. I’m always happier if I have only one bag I need to worry about. But it doesn’t take too many sketchbooks, laptops, or watercolor sets to add up to a second bag.

Maybe I should bring just a few pocket notebooks, a good ballpoint, and a pocket watercolor set. Ah – the lure of miniaturized travel perfection! But then, I’m driving, not going by air mail, so why not just bring what I want?

So how about it folks – what do you bring to record your thoughts while on vacation? Do you end up using it all, or just some of it?

[UPDATE: See what I ended up bringing here.]

4 thoughts on “The vacation satchel. What to bring.

  1. This is an easy one because I just got back from a weeklong trip. I took an iPad, 2 styluses, a large notebook, a 4 x 6 notebook, a 3 x 5 notebook, pencil, 1 highlighter (red ink, can double as paint) , 2 fountain pens of different colors and nibs. (My sketches are more doodles.) While there, I bought another pen and notebook.


    1. Hi Dottie,

      Sounds like you traveled pretty light! Did the notebooks have specific purposes? Also, what kind of styluses did you bring – were they for the iPad?


  2. This is a very poignant question for me. 2 things contribute to that- 1. I just (2 days ago) purchased my first iPad and I really don’t how this will effect my current way of journaling and 2. I take travel journals very very seriously. I am toying with the idea of writing a book about creating travel journals and their role in enjoying your travels beyond the actual days on the journey. All that said here is what I take with me on a 2 week trip: 1 moleskin watercolor paper horizontal journal( note I spend quite a bit of time prepping my moleskin before the trip. I do water color washes, maps, address, pockets, clippings that I gather in preparation for the travel.) 20 or so colored pencils in relevant colors to my destination, most of which are water soluble. Pencil sharpener, glue stick, mini scissors if I think I can pass TSA. Couple sharpies in various colors, water brush pen, several jelly roll pens ESP silver and white, white Caran d’Ache water soluble crayon, soft pencil, micron brown pen. Everything besides the more book must fit inside a small toiletry pouch about 8″x 3″. That kit has gotten me through Ireland, Spain, Greece, and Costa Rica and takes up little space. All I have to do is sit my husband down in a bar and I can go to town both figuratively and literally!


    1. Hi Taska,

      You must have a great collection of notebooks! I wish I had started journaling my vacations when I first met my wife. We had some great trips. Fortunately, she’s a compulsive shutterbug so we have photos.


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