Artist Residency: Travel Packing List

Artist Residency: Travel Packing List

When I was accepted into a residency program, I began researching as much as I could about what I needed to bring. Unfortunately, nobody had compiled a good basic residency packing lists for artists or at least from what I could find. My research brought up a lot of vacation packing lists and information about specific residencies. I spent a lot of time packing and considering what I needed to bring, making piles and trying to stay organized.

Over-packing: The hardest part is to not over pack! Also keep in mind the goals of your residency. Are you planning on painting or journaling? Perhaps your spending your time researching or writing. Whatever your goals are, pack with them in mind so you bring what you need and you leave what you don’t need.

Leaving Room: Remember that you will be returning with, hopefully, some new artwork. Make sure you have a plan for getting the art home. Its easier to stack fresh unused canvases in a car as opposed to traveling with finished paintings. Plan ahead especially if you already know you will need to ship your artwork back home. Budget for shipping and pack some shipping boxes, bubble wrap and tape so you can safely prepare the work for traveling.

International Packing: This list was compiled with a travel-by-car residency in mind. This list will be different for artists especially if you travel by air to your residency or if you are doing an international residency as some of these materials won’t be allowed on the plane.

Post Residency Packing: Have a packing list and keep track of what you bring so you can re-pack everything when your residency is over. It’s also handy to maintain a record of your packing list so you can refer to it when you have another residency.

When in doubt you can always reach out to the residency program to see what is already provided for you. What does your residency provide you with food, housing, a stipend? Who pays for the travel costs, material costs, equipment fees, residency fees?

Basic Artist Residency Packing List

Residency Information:

  • Contact information
  • Acceptance letter (Just in case there is a mix up upon check in you have proof you are accepted and suppose to be there)
  • Directions or map
  • Guidelines/Rule or info packets
  • Schedule, travel plans or itinerary
  • Any fees or paperwork due on arrival

Studio Supplies

  • Tarp, plastic, or drop cloth for messy work
  • Packing blankets or shipping supplies for completed work
  • Ziploc bags or saran wrap
  • Sketchbook
  • Your specific art materials/tools
  • Paper towels, apron, rags, rubber gloves
  • Any studio tools you frequently use: T Square, ruler, tape measure, Xacto knife, level, etc.

Art Business and Office Materials

  • Business Cards
  • Any office tools you frequently use: stapler 3-Hole punch, scissors, tape, erasers, rubber bands, glue, etc.
  • Pencil/pen
  • Stamps and envelopes
  • Paper/notebook


  • Laptop and power cords
  • Printer: printer paper and cords
  • MP3 player: cord and headphones
  • Camera: camera cord, camera battery, tripod
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Extension cord(s)
  • Remember to charge your GPS, Ipod, cell phone, camera, or other electronics before you begin your travels

Kitchen and Bath

  • Laundry Soap
  • Dish soap
  • Sponges
  • Paper towels
  • Other bathroom supplies or products
  • Towels: bath, washcloth
  • Soap or body wash
  • Tooth brush and paste
  • Razor
  • Brush
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo
  • Shower shoes or flip flops
  • Sunscreen
  • Tylenol or Medication
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Band aids and first aid
  • Snacks or Food
  • Lunch box or thermos/water bottle


  • Cash, check book, ID and credit card
  • Car and health insurance
  • Passport  (international residencies)
  • Tote or travel bag
  • Personal addresses or emails of family and friends
  • Pillow and Blankets
  • Car or travel emergency supplies
  • Sunglasses
  • Shoes: slip-ons and tennis shoes
  • Clothing: Pack at least one nice or professional outfit. You may have the chance to show your work in a gallery, attend an opening, or have a residency sponsored dinner or event to attend to.

Additional Considerations: 

  • When you arrive, head to a visitor center to get maps and guides of the local area. Research places to go to while you are there before you get to your residency and create a schedule for yourself.
  • Make sure you are educated on the expectations of your residency. Many expect artist to participate in public exhibitions, lectures, slide talks, art work donation, studio tours and more. Pack what you need to complete this expectation.
  • Keep a journal! Written, visual, or digital (or all three) record your residency experience.
  • Take care of you studio or space, damaging the residency’s furniture or materials may mean you get charged or your deposit is not returned. Tape down crate paper on table tops and under areas where you plan to use permanent art materials like inks, paints and glues. Lay tarps under easels and areas where material may get onto the floor. These precautions will also help protect your art.
  • Keep plastic and grocery bags from your food purchases to help pack up your materials when you have to bring them home.


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