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10 Tips for Creative Travelers

Updated: Sep 3, 2020

artist painting in cortona, italy with view over tuscany

Creative travelers need a way to capture their experiences!

Up until my first trip to Europe, art was my greatest love and passion. Then Travel charmed its way into my life and so ensued a jealous battle between the two.

Luckily I’ve learned that beautiful things happen when I combine them both. Sparks fly when I’m sitting on an ancient stone doorstep sketching the cobblestone street. Whether you call yourself an “artist” or not, getting creative during your travels will help you capture your experience and remember details you’d otherwise forget.

Here are 10 tips for every creative traveler from light sketchers to professional artists.

sketching in a a park in rome by a pond
  1. Buy a travel watercolor set. Plan a little bit of time in each place you visit to just sit somewhere quiet and try to capture the scene.

  2. Buy a small watercolor notebook where you record all these scenes. I can’t tell you how valuable those little sketches will be in a couple years looking back at the memories.

  3. Plan for quick creation. Carrying canvases and oils across continents is obviously not feasible. I like to bring pastels. They’re light to carry and it’s fast to lay down quick areas of color so you can get back to your walking tour. They are fragile, so put them between sheets of glassine or wax paper and store them in a file folder or protective notebook.

Bernini's statue of Apollo and Daphne with an artist's sketch

Taking the time to sketch this beautiful sculpture by Bernini made me appreciate every detail.

4. Keep a journal. It can be hard to make time to sit down and record everything you’ve been doing, but it’s so worth it. If you don’t write it down, you’ll lose 30% of those memories every year after. Ok, I made that statistic up but the concept is real.

5. At the very least, make sure you have a good pen. For sketching. For journaling. For jotting down directions in a foreign language so you can attempt to translate them later. Or for lending to a cute Sicilian who needs to write down his number 😉

6. Take great photographs. Don’t you dare go abroad without a good camera. Just be sure you’re not seeing everything through a camera lens. Slow down and enjoy the moment, too. Be present. But then photograph it for the future.

watercolor painting of poppy fields and olive tree

I made this painting of a memory I had shared with a new local friend in Italy.

7. Give handmade souvenirs. Instead of spending money on heavy bottles of wine and other gifts, make your friends and families little paintings, drawings, or handmade postcards along the way. They’ll love the personal touch and they’ll feel like they were there with you painting that scene. (*Bonus tip: give paintings to any locals you meet and share a conversation or meal with. You share your gifts, they share theirs..or at least open up to you which is a gift in itself!)

8. Bring a backpack. Always travel with a small to medium sized backpack. When you arrive at a destination, you can grab your pack, throw in your sketchbook and pens, paints, or pastels (just in case inspiration strikes) along with other essentials, and head out the door.

9. Connect with other creatives. If you meet other creatives, ask to see their portfolio and show them yours. It’s an easy way for a quick bond and it can lead to a great friendship (or at least a great hour or two at the local bar).

woman holding a portrait of herself and standing next to the artist older italian man

After chatting with this man at a local cafè, I learned he’s an artist. He drew my portrait in 5 minutes and I had a special memory and new friend who I visit every time I’m in Rome.

10. Have an art sale. Fund your trip by digging out all your old artwork and inviting all your family & friends over for an art sale party. Serve dishes from each of the countries you’ll be visiting and I guarantee success! I did this in college and paid for my round trip ticket! You can also do a post-trip party to sell the sketches you made on your trip and show photos.

Did you know we incorporate creative workshops in our trips? From sketching with a local in her favorite spot to learning from one of Italy’s last master wood inlay artisans, we think creativity is one of the best ways to connect with the heart of a culture. You can even help restore ancient frescos!

Click here to take a look at our upcoming trips.

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