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The Best Watercolor Travel Sets for Artists Who Love Traveling

Written by Robert S. Brown / Fact checked by Helen B. Harris

best watercolor travel set

If you are flying 38,000 feet off the ground or on a train running miles away from your hometown, you have the perks of a wanderer: to take delight in bright blue skies, red-orange sunsets, and breathtaking landscapes.

However, for an artist who moves places, every trip is worthwhile when you capture these picturesque sights and draw them in your sketchbook using a brush or pencil. For a vast spectrum of colors and artistic effects, perhaps you go for the best watercolor travel set. But the next question is, what should you look for when choosing a portable watercolor set?

  • First of all, a watercolor travel kit should be portable and compact enough to put away in your luggage or pocket. A gawky and bulky watercolor set would be too cumbersome to carry around and probably end up in disarray.
  • Furthermore, it is significant to consider what a travel watercolor kit consists of. Besides the color palette, does it include a travel-friendly brush or a sponge? Does it come with a handy carrying bag for hassle-free storage? Although the accessories and tools depend on your preferences and needs, a complete mini watercolor set only delivers the essential tools.
  • Another crucial part is the overall quality of colors. A small watercolor set should not present substandard pigment quality and blend- No matter how compact it is or how few the color options are, the pigments should be vibrant, blendable, and lightfast.

Not all artists travel by plane. But if you do, make sure you get a TSA-approved watercolor set. Aside from that, there is much more to learn in this comprehensive guide and review. I will show you the in-depth guidelines, as well as the top-pick products that best suit your artistic demands.


<strong>Top-Rated Products</strong>

Top 1

Sakura XNCW-24N


Top 2

Winsor & Newton 390640


Top 3

Lightwish MeiLiang


Top 10 Watercolor Travel Set Reviews

1. Sakura XNCW-24N Koi Watercolor Pocket Field Sketch Box

From its size to quantity, you can tell that this Sakura Koi watercolor travel kit is thoughtfully curated for painters or artists who love traveling. It features a compact size and sleek design that you can easily fit inside your bag or even your shirt pocket.

Impressively, this small set has the essential tools for basic watercolor painting, with a water brush (refillable) and a half-pan watercolor set.

The colors are formulated to present beautiful and vivid hues. Aside from that, the highly pigmented shades blend well to create a wide range of colors.

Moreover, it uses no ordinary brush; it is a refillable water brush that lets you paint without using a container with water.

Since you can fill it up with water, you can simply take it out of your pocket or bag and are all set for a painting session! You can paint effortlessly even when you are on a plane, on a train, or sitting by the park for Plein air painting.

In addition to that, this kit comes with a detachable pegged palette where you can mix your favorite colors. When you are all done, you can just place it back inside the kit for hassle-free and neat storage.

I also want to emphasize the base pull-down ring at the back of the watercolor set. Although it is just a small detail, I found the ring is quite useful if you want to keep the palette steady as you hold it. While it keeps the watercolor kit from sliding off your palm, the ring also helps you paint comfortably wherever you are.

My only issue is that some paint blocks fell out of the pan, and I had to put them back. I wish they were glued better next time.
  • Compact and sleek design
  • Includes a water brush tip and a detachable mixing palette
  • Fits perfectly in bag or shirt pockets
  • Highly blendable and pigmented colors
  • Has a base pull-down ring for easy holding
  • Paint blocks need stronger adhesion to prevent from falling out
Overall, this is a portable watercolor set that surprises you with everything you need for your watercolor travel journal. Besides the compact size, it has useful tools and beautiful colors that professionals and beginners can enjoy.

2. Winsor & Newton 390640 Cotman Water Colour Paint

For professional quality watercolor set brands, Winsor & Newton is among the ones that always come to mind. The colors deliver high-quality pigments that explicitly showcase your art with vibrant hues and artistic painting effects. Plus, the colors in the palette blend impeccably well.

This pocket watercolor set includes 12 Cotman Watercolors that render good transparency to create beautiful washes. I also noticed that these colors have intense tints and uniform consistency that lend an excellent layout of colors.

Therefore, even though these are half-pan watercolors, there is no need to build the colors to achieve their vividness. A few dabs and strokes can already create rich watercolor tones.

Aside from that, I appreciate the addition of white in the range. Although the white tone of the paper serves as a brilliant backdrop for watercolors, the white pigment can ramp up the drawing or watercolor art with highlights and subtle color mixtures.

All these amazing features come in a small watercolor palette that can fit inside your shirt or bag pocket. The longest side is roughly six inches and just a tad bigger than a card! Even when you open it, the upper side has partitions where you can mix colors.

Honestly, I am least impressed by the small brush included in the set. It is compact and portable but I think the handle is too tiny to hold, making it a little difficult to use. Nonetheless, it is a round brush that can provide versatile lines.
  • A half-pan watercolor pocket set that offers brilliant colors
  • Highly blendable and pigmented colors
  • Pocket-sized watercolor travel kit for superior portability
  • Designed with a mixing palette in the lid
  • Includes a small brush
  • The brush is too small and slightly difficult to use
This watercolor travel palette stands out for its exceptional range of rich watercolors. Since it is pocket-sized, you can have on the go painting sessions and take delight in high-grade hues.

3. Lightwish MeiLiang Watercolor Paint Set

The best thing about this MeiLiang traveling watercolor kit is the great color selection that does not break your bank. With just a slight difference from the price of the Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolor paint set, you can indulge in a wider color range with this one.

Right before that, the first thing that caught my attention was the metal case. Contrary to most portable watercolor sets I have seen on the market, this one uses a sturdy case that keeps the pan secure.

Even when you stack in your fully packed luggage, there is no need to worry about breaking or damaging your watercolor palette.

Besides that, the flip cover works as a mixing palette as well. Similar to the Sakura Koi watercolor travel set, this one also has a metal ring under the case for steady and hassle-free painting.

When it comes to the color quality, I must say that it is pretty impressive since they are highly pigmented and fluid. This allows you to create glazing effects and revel in smooth watercolors without any chalky or grainy textures after drying.

Moreover, it features a compact size, perfect for traveling. It is long but has a sleek and slim design that you can easily slip into your pocket or bag.

Another useful addition is the refillable watercolor brush that makes painting a lot easier and mess-free. I can simply take it out and paint it on my watercolor travel journal whenever and wherever I like.

However, I am not a huge fan of the brush because of some loose bristles. Although it is not the worst, I hope the bristles were firmer and tighter.
  • Offers a wide selection of highly pigmented colors
  • Creates beautiful glazing effects that without grainy textures when dried
  • Comes in a sturdy metal case
  • Slim and sleek design
  • Includes a water brush
  • The brush has some loose bristles
It is a sturdy and compact watercolor set that lets you play and experiment with a beautiful spectrum of colors. Besides that, it comes at an affordable price that makes it more accessible for artists of all levels.

4. Artsy Watercolor Paint Set

The highlight of this Artsy Watercolor paint set is the innovative pocket design. The first time I saw it, I did not think it would have 42 colors! This artistic palette comes in different trays that you can fan out to see the vibrant array of assorted colors.

Every tray has color labels at the bottom to help you identify which colors to use. I find this useful since some colors, particularly the orange and red shades, look a bit identical. Thankfully, there are no duplicates in the colors, allowing you to mix and play with various combinations.

Moreover, these beautiful pigments are lightfast and vivid, allowing you to showcase watercolor artworks with their amazing color quality. Mixing the colors is not a problem at all since they are highly blendable. Plus, they dry quickly, preventing any ink pooling and grainy textures.

When you are done painting, you can simply slide each tray back to its palette for storing. This leaves you an ultra-compact and portable watercolor set that you can fit in your shirt or bag pocket.

One of the best things I love about this set is the water brushes. Unlike some portable watercolor paint sets that only have one water brush or paint brush, this one includes three water brushes. They work as backup brushes in case you like mixing a lot of colors or filling up your watercolor journal with your travels.

In addition to that, this set has a sponge where you can dry and clean your brushes after painting.

Perhaps the only issue with this palette is that the pans are not replaceable or refillable. Therefore, if a pan breaks or is all used up, you have to purchase a whole new set.
  • Innovative compact design for enhanced portability
  • Offers an array of pigmented colors
  • Highly blendable and quick-drying
  • Includes three water brushes and a sponge
  • Intuitive pan display and labels to identify and view all the colors
  • Color pans are not replaceable
Nonetheless, it is among the best picks when portability matters the most. What is fascinating is that you can revel in a wide variety of colors without compromising the storage properties and quality.

5. MEEDEN 4336971288 Watercolor Paint Set

Comparing this beside the Artsy watercolor paint set, you can see some striking similarities with the innovative pan display, color labels, and even the painting tools. Moreover, it comes at an affordable price range.

If you look closely at these palettes, the differences fall under the brush and color selection. Both have 42 colors but this one has darker tones in neutrals, greens, and blues. When you mix them with water, the colors beautifully blended, presenting rich and artistic watercolor washes.

As I work with these watercolors, I also noticed that they dry quickly and can resist fading as well. Curated with a vast array of colors, this palette allows you to create an endless range of vibrant hues for artistic and colorful artwork.

With regard to its design, this travel watercolor paint set does not fail to impress with its unique palette design. Similar to the Artsy portable watercolor kit, you can fan out the palette and swipe out to different tabs to find the color you need. Aside from that, there are color labels to easily identify the shades.

When you put everything away, it shifts into a lightweight and compact palette that you can slip inside your bag or pocket. Another sweet treat is the addition of four different water brush sizes that you can use for fine to broad applications. Not to mention the addition of a sponge to clean and dry your brushes.

Unfortunately, it does not come with a hard carry case or cover but only a box. Thus, it is better to put it away in a plastic or metal case to prevent any damages as well as any spills.
  • Ultra-lightweight and compact palette design
  • Offers a great selection of pigmented watercolors
  • Quick-drying and lightfast colors
  • Includes four refillable water brushes in various sizes
  • Affordable
  • Does not have a hard case or cover to protect the palette
You can tell by its foldable design and the inclusion of multiple water brush sizes that it is carefully curated for traveling artists. It is an impressive pocket watercolor palette set that has the essential tools for painting on the go!

6. Jerry Q Art JQ-124 WaterColor Travel Pocket Set

It can be a bit challenging for a beginner watercolor artist to find the best watercolor travel set to start with. With that said, this Jerry Q Art pocket set has the tools an amateur artist needs when traveling and painting with watercolors.

Sifting through the details, this pocket watercolor set features a slim and sleek design for enhanced portability. Once you open the lid, it is pretty awesome to find an array of beautiful colors along with the necessary painting tools. This includes a water brush, a small sponge, and detachable mixing pans.

For a beginner, I bet these tools and color selection are more than enough to start with a watercolor travel journal. Since everything is compact, there is no trouble putting them away in a small pocket in your shirt or bag.

Though it is made of plastic, it is surprisingly sturdy. I also like how the lid closes tightly, keeping the palette secure and protected whenever you travel.

While that already sounds impressive, the colors do not fall short of their quality and performance. The brilliant colors have a nice amount of pigment, revealing a bright and stunning spectrum of colors. Furthermore, these watercolors are highly blendable, making it much easier to create washes and preserve some translucent watercolor effects.

One more thing I noticed is the ceramic calligraphy tray. I did not know what to use it for but I think it would be useful for artists who practice calligraphy art.

On a different note, the colors in this palette are replaceable, which is a good thing. However, they are not labeled, making it difficult to find and identify the matching colors that the manufacturer is selling.
  • A portable and great quality starting watercolor kit for beginners
  • Sleek and slim design for hassle-free transportation
  • Brilliant color selection; very pigmented hues
  • Highly blendable colors that can create vibrant washes
  • Includes a water brush, a calligraphy pan, a sponge, and a removable mixing tray
  • No color labels; difficult to find matching watercolor replacements
Despite that, this portable watercolor palette is basically a full kit that beginners can use for on the go painting sessions.

7. ARTISTRO 432 Watercolor Paint Set

At first glance, I could already tell that this watercolor paint set would be an exquisite gem. Right from its vibrant mint metal box and dainty artwork details, ARTISTRO did a great job of making this kit to be aesthetically pleasing as possible. I even love the elegant metal lid lock that looks like the one you see on classic musical boxes.

Upon opening the watercolor palette, everything inside is even more fascinating. You can see all 48 vibrant colors arranged into a neat and beautiful layout – ranging from light to dark tones.

On the upper part of the lid is an organized space for the essential painting tools. This includes a water brush pen, a sponge, a drawing pencil, an eraser, a watercolor brush, and a swatch sheet. Plus, there are small watercolor sheets as well. As a beginner, I sincerely do not think there is anything else to ask for!

The palette is a combination of pigmented fluorescents and metallics, rendering unique, vibrant colors. When mixing the colors, I can tell that the watercolors are highly blendable, producing rich washes and artistic textures. Mind you, the binder is thick and a bit gelatinous, causing the watercolors to create grainy or granulated textures and finishes.

With that in mind, some artists might not fancy such grainy textures. However, this allows you to create artistic effects and colors besides smooth and colorful washes. I find this an amazing trick to amplify watercolor artworks. Aside from that, the exclusive water brush pen and original brush make blending and layering effortless.

On the other hand, the size is not as compact and slim as the previous watercolor sets on the list. It is a bit bulky though it can still fit well in your bag. And since it is a metal tin case, it can protect the palette from damages.

Perhaps the particular caveat is that this watercolor palette works best for advanced or professional artists. I know this falls under the student-grade category but beginners might need to get a hang of it, considering the texture and consistency.
  • Offers vibrant and pigmented colors that can produce washes
  • Creates granulated textures for unique and artistic effects
  • Includes essential painting tools for convenient travel painting
  • Comes in a sturdy metal tin case for added protection
  • Suitable for advanced and professional artists
  • Not the ideal option for beginners
  • Slightly bulky compared to other compact watercolor sets
Overall, this is a stunning watercolor travel paint set for experienced artists who love experimenting with textures and various colors. Moreover, it has useful tools that will showcase the beauty of your watercolor art.

8. Sennelier 10-131605 French Artists Watercolor Travel Set

I have always been hunting for the best watercolor paints for professionals. But my curious self has always wanted to try other reputable brands other than Winsor & Newton. Thus, Sennelier was my next target, and I am glad I did give it a shot.

I hear a lot of amazing things about this brand, particularly the superb quality of watercolors. However, I admit that the price tag is the least attractive thing. But the question is, what is so special about it? To concur with the reviews and rumors, it was definitely the pigmented colors that I have seen the best so far.

Unbeknownst to many, the highlighted ingredient is honey. This helps preserve the longevity and quality of colors, making them impeccably brilliant and luminous at the same time.

As expected, the colors give off vivid hues that blend nicely in a beautiful shade. Even with simply dampening the colors, it is easy to obtain pigments and render bright washes and representations of what every color should be.

In terms of portability, this half-pan watercolor palette is small and slim, providing an ideal size for traveling. Plus, it comes in a sturdy metal case that secures all the colors.

Unfortunately, this palette does not include any painting tools, such as an original brush or a water brush.
  • Impeccably brilliant and pigmented colors that easily blend
  • Creates vivid strokes and washes even with just a few dabs
  • Very compact and sleek design for hassle-free storage and travel painting
  • Comes in a sturdy metal tin case
  • Excellent color longevity
  • Expensive
  • No brushes included
If you are after an excellent and professional quality watercolor set regardless of the price, I recommend this one. It does not have as many colors or tools as the other sets, but it has premium quality watercolors that deliver promising results.

9. Artify ‎4336953153 Watercolor Field Sketch Set

Another budget-friendly option for watercolor travel sets is this one from Artify. This mini kit gives amateur watercolor artists a chance to try great quality watercolor without breaking their banks. I know for sure because I have seen the quality pigments that produce an imaginative and endless range of colors.

Impressively, the colors blend well and deliver vibrant hues when mixed with water. Therefore, making washes and artistic effects would not be a problem. Aside from that, the watercolors dry quickly, preventing any messy spills that can bleed through paper.

How about the size? I must say that this set is the perfect fit for your pocket whether it is a bag or your shirt. The plastic case is sturdy, securing the palette from any damage.

In addition to its portable and innovative design, I think the removable palette is genius. Not only can you arrange the colors according to your preference, but also reuse and wash them should you ever need to. Plus, the mixing tray is detachable and can be placed anywhere within your reach.

Some artists might not find this a big deal but I was impressed by how thoughtful the manufacturer designed the palette this way. Thus, it can accommodate left and right-hand painters.

Moreover, three brushes and two sponges complete this watercolor travel kit. The ring at the back of the base keeps the palette convenient to hold. Hence, this makes painting and traveling fun and easy to do!

My only concern is that some of the paint squares or pans break easily. Therefore, I recommend it is best to put it away in a concealed space in your bag to protect it from bumps.
  • Highly blendable and pigmented colors
  • Removable and customizable mixing tray to accommodate left and right-hand painters
  • Compact design
  • Includes essential painting tools (three brushes and two sponges)
  • Designed with a base ring for comfortable painting sessions
  • Some paints break easily when not properly stored
For an affordable and great quality watercolor travel set, I would not have any second thoughts about getting one for myself again. Beginners would love this set too, not only for the price but also for its practical design and beautiful hues.

10. Winsor & Newton 390658 Cotman Watercolor Brush Paint Set

When it comes to Winsor & Newton, I have nothing to expect but satisfying results in terms of color blends and vibrancy. Luckily, this Cotman Watercolor Brush Pen set is not so different from my favorite watercolor sets from this brand.

First of all, the size of this half-pan set ensures hassle-free storage when you are traveling. It is so dainty that you can fit inside your shirt pocket or mini compartments in your bag. When it is closed, it presents an understated yet sophisticated design that you can take out for a quick paint session anywhere you go.

As soon as you open the lid, the upper space provides partitions where you can mix different colors. Afterward, my eyes took me to the color labels that are neatly presented to help you organize and identify colors. Since the pans are replaceable, the color labels are crucial when finding matching shades.

As usual, Winsor & Newton did it again with this impressive array of colors. They deliver quality pigments even with just a few dabs, allowing you to create vivid washes and artistic watercolor effects.

Aside from that, the water brush pen is a handy addition to this set. It lets you paint without dipping into the water and start with your painting right away. And since it is refillable, you can simply fill it up whenever you have to. The clear barrel or reservoir lets you know how much water you have used.

However, there is a slight drawback with the brush pen; the flow of water seems too heavy sometimes. I noticed it happens even when I do not squeeze the barrel.
  • Creates vibrant color blends and watercolor effects
  • Designed with color labels for easy identification
  • Has a mixing tray to blend colors
  • Includes a water brush pen
  • Very compact
  • Water flows heavily sometimes
Nevertheless, this brand does not disappoint with color quality and portability. This pocket-sized watercolor palette has dainty paints that let you create bright and big artworks.

What to Look for When Buying Watercolor Travel Sets


Portability and Storage

When looking for a travel watercolor set, it is reasonable to consider whether it is compact enough to put away in your pocket or luggage. Since you will be moving from one place to another, it will not be practical to add some unnecessary weight to your things.

With that said, you must have a portable set that you can easily take out or put away and keep in mind that a complete travel painting kit does not need to be big and bulky. Fortunately, some brands offer foldable watercolor palettes and travel-friendly sizes that you can easily slip into your pocket or bag.

Accessories and Tools

A set consists of a variety of tools and accessories that will provide you with a complete setup for painting on the go. For a watercolor travel set, it should at least include a portable and refillable water brush. Since you will be traveling by air or land, this type of brush dispenses water as you paint, allowing you to paint right on the spot conveniently.

There is no need to fill up a container or cup with water, which can end up quite messy while traveling. Just fill the brush up and you are all set to paint anytime and anywhere you want. Some sets also include a pencil, a sponge to dry the brush, and a paint palette for mixing colors. Others have multiple refillable brushes for versatile applications.

Pigment Quality

Many artists use watercolor because it can spruce up drawings and sketches with an array of vivid colors. Aside from that, it can add unique effects to your artwork, especially if you love working with mixed media.

Therefore, it is important that you have high-quality pigments so as to deliver a vibrant spectrum of colors. No matter how few the color options are, a lightfast and premium quality watercolor palette can exhibit promising results.

Color Selection

The color selection all depends on your preferences and needs. But since watercolor travel sets usually have limited options, it would be better to stick with the primary shades. They typically come in sets of 9 or 12.

Lucky you if you can have more options without comprising the storage properties and portability. Some brands offer more than the usual colors that come in 24, 36, 42, 48, or more packed in a foldable or compact case.


Watercolor is among the versatile art media that allows you to mix and blend colors, creating a custom color selection for your artwork. A watercolor travel kit homemade palette usually has that, presenting your favorite shades and mixtures.

A portable or mini travel watercolor palette should also let you do so despite the limited amount and selection of colors. Moreover, the excellent blendability allows you to maximize your palette and achieve your desired color combinations. Hence, you can browse the reviews or test the watercolor set for seamless color gradients.

TSA Approved (Transportation Security Administration)

This is a mandatory factor to consider for those who are planning to fly with their watercolor sets. Airlines provide specific and detailed regulations about the items that you are allowed to bring in a carry-on.

In general, TSA has restrictions on liquid watercolors. Every tube of watercolor paint should be no more than 3.4 ounces, and all wrapped in clear zip-top bags. For dry watercolor palette sets, they are relatively much easier to bring on a plane since they come in compact and convenient sizes.

What Is the Most Reliable Watercolor Travel Set Brand


It is quite hard to tell because there are a lot of amazing brands that offer excellent watercolor travel sets. However, Sakura is by far the most reliable brand for great quality watercolor sets that feature assorted colors and essential tools. Plus, they come at a reasonable price range. But if it is about budget-friendly decent watercolor sets that have a wide array of colors, I would go for MEEDEN.

On the other hand, Winsor & Newton and Sennelier are my favorite brands for professional quality watercolors. They might be relatively more expensive than other brands but they have a reliable lineup of portable watercolor sets that let you paint like a pro.

Can You Fly With Watercolor Paint

Yes, you can as long as your watercolor paint palettes and sets do not violate the TSA’s regulations and restrictions. As mentioned, TSA is lenient with dry watercolor travel sets because of their small and convenient size, allowing you to bring them on a carry-on without any trouble.

How Do You Do a Watercolor Travel Journal

The first thing you can do is list your itinerary. Jot down where you would go first and the places you would probably pass by. Sometimes, you can be spontaneous and draw the scenes and unforgettable memories you would like to record and remember. Thus, Make sure to bring a travel or portable watercolor journal or drawing book with you.

Like a travel photo journal or album, a watercolor travel journal lets you record memories, events, and beautiful sights, but with a different method – painting. For example, you can paint the dinner or lunch you have had, a beautiful sunset, or even the view from your hotel or train. As you capture these events, you can doodle around your drawings or write what your painting is all about.

What Is Included in a Watercolor Travel Set

Apart from the watercolor palette, a watercolor travel set usually includes a small or a refillable water brush. Although not necessary, some sets have a sponge to dry the brush, small partitions for water (in case water brushes are not available), and additional water brushes for versatile and effortless painting sessions.

Moreover, the tools and accessories in a watercolor set vary from one brand to another. Check the composition of a painting set you will buy to ensure you get the essential tools for your watercolor paintings.


The best watercolor travel set is not just about the portable size but the quality of pigments and essential tools as well. It is quite amazing how you can document everything you see when you travel, and a watercolor travel set helps you do that. This is the reason why you deserve to have the best watercolor kit that can beautifully capture and paint landscapes and even mundane sights when you wander around.

This list has jotted down the top picks for portable watercolor sets on the market. Besides their popularity, the brands mentioned offer reliable and excellent quality watercolor sets that are worth trying. Hope this helps!

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