Art kits are a great option for keeping children occupied while traveling, whether on a road trip, flying internationally, or zipping across the country on an Amtrak train. Art-making will not only keep their hands busy but also encourage kids to express themselves and build motor skills in fun and engaging ways. You could purchase supplies piece by piece, but art kits are a cost-effective way to get lots of tools and materials at once. We’ve found the best products when it comes to being portable, easy to use on the go, nontoxic, and well organized; read on to learn more.
Faber-Castell Do Art Travel Easel Set
This art kit offers the best-quality kid-friendly art supplies in an easy-to-manage format. The lightweight carry case folds to become a tabletop easel that can support full-size paper. Kids can also draw directly on the surface of this easel, which features a whiteboard on one side and a chalkboard on the other. Faber-Castell provides not only chalk and dry-erase markers but also colored pencils, a sharpener, sketchpad, and beeswax crayons that are soft yet durable. The crayons are especially nice, smoothly laying down vivid colors and designed with triangular bodies to prevent them from rolling off tables. Kids ages 4 and up will enjoy independently creating with all these supplies, which fit neatly into an integrated drawer.
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Crayola Create ’N Carry Art Set
Less expensive than our top pick, Crayola’s option comes with some of the brand’s most popular tools. A sturdy carry case contains eight fine-line markers, eight gel markers that show up beautifully on dark paper, 12 colored pencils, and 30 mini sheets of construction paper (they’re about the size of a postcard). Each medium comes in its own box, and you can either keep them boxed or simply chuck them in the case’s four compartments. There’s plenty of room to store additional supplies, too. When closed, the case doubles as a work surface, and it features eight holes in which to store implements so they remain within reach without rolling away—even if the art-making is happening in a car.
Buy: Crayola Create ’N Carry Art Set $12.99
ANOTHER GOOD CHOICE
Play-Doh Starter Set
If your kid is a budding sculptor or loves tactile crafts, a Play-Doh kit might be just the thing. This one comes with four 2-ounce tubs of modeling compound in four colors as well as cookie-cutter-like templates in four shapes. In addition, kids get mini tools to help them manipulate the Play-Doh, including a pair of scissors and a pizza cutter—all child-safe, of course. These tools are quite tiny, measuring about 2 to 3 inches long, so we recommend this kit for toddlers and preschoolers. Everything fits easily in a clear and sturdy plastic storage bag with a handle.
Buy: Play-Doh Starter Set $6.99
A GREAT ALTERNATIVE
Alex Desk to Go
Tired of giving your children art supplies they don’t like? Play it safe and pick up a basic portable desk that they can pair with favorite tools and materials they already own. This one features a sturdy 9-by-12-inch surface with a cushioned back so kids can support it comfortably on their laps. The flat top features corner straps to secure a thick sketchbook or a stack of paper. On both sides are generously sized zippered pouches that can hold dozens of markers, crayons, and the like. When empty, the entire accessory can be compressed into a skinny briefcase with a handle.
Buy: Alex Desk To Go $16.99
Crayola Color Wonder Stow & Go Studio
This is an excellent drawing kit that covers the basics and can easily be slipped into a backpack—or even the seat pocket of a car or airplane. The slim storage case is less than 2 inches thick and measures about 9 by 12 inches—still large enough to use as a drawing surface when closed. Inside, find 30 blank papers in fun colors and four chunky, easy-grip markers, with individual slots to hold each drawing implement. The markers are designed to be mess-free, formulated with an ink that shows up only on Crayola’s special paper, so parents and guardians don’t have to worry about stains on clothing, skin, or upholstery.