Travelling with Ink

July 11, 2015 | 9 Comments

My ‘belts and braces’ approach to traveling with ink.

  • Taking fountain pens on the plane:
  • I always fill my lamy pen fully before travelling on the plane and of course use it during the flight.
  • Only once ever have I had a very slight leakage problem and my lamy pen has been on many many flights.
  • I always try to keep pens in an upright position.
  • I did have a problem with a Noodlers Flex pen which spilt black ink all over a sketch when I carelessly opened the lid after arrival.
  • If you are unsure about a certain pen, or a little nervous about leakage, wrap a tissue around the pen and then put it in a zip-lock bag. On arrival, slowly take the cap off.

This photo shows the result of the most leakage I have ever had. I didn’t get any ink on my hands cleaning up this leakage (which is impressive as I nearly always have ink on my hands after filling up a pen!)

Ink Supply:

  • Running out of ink is a big deal for me. You can normally buy more watercolour or adjust the colours you use, but if you run out of permanent ink, it is often very hard to source replacement ink… and I just dislike using fineliners for text and drawing. On my big trip during 2010, I dropped my ink pot in the basin and lost my last quantity so I had to sketch with fineliner while in Rome. It was a big disappointment. So, I therefore much prefer to take more ink than I think I will need.
  • During my last trip to Melbourne, I took a few different colours but wished I had taken at least one more colour – the fog grey! As I am going on a serious trip (Urban Sketchers Symposium) I want to keep my options open.
  • I have travelled with a new glass bottle of ink (a purchase). Just wrapped it in a zip lock bag and a sock and put it in my bathroom bag. But normally I take a smaller quantity with me.
  • I have a VERY fancy (ie. expensive) ink container – The Visconti ink pot. It is vacuumed sealed and great to use. It has never leaked on me – I used to carry it in my liquids bag… now I just put it in my bathroom bag (in a zip lock bag of course and wrapped in a tissue just in case!)
  • But seriously you do not need a special ink pot – a small plastic container would do. You might want to source proper ink containers or ‘non-leak travel containers’… but these ones have been fine. I use small hotel shampoo containers, and like any liquids in bottles, I seal the lid with tape.  I then wrap with a tissue (so I can easily see if there has been a leakage – only once minor leakage in all my travels) then put it inside a plastic (honey) jar and then in another zip lock bag.
  • The sample vials that you get from fountain pen stores work great!

These were the colours I enjoyed using in Melbourne so I have decided to take a container of each (probably more than I need) but I go through a LOT of ink using the Sailor Pen – a full convertor of ink only last 2 sketches so I check and re-fill my pens every night.


Also, I am moving away from using a convertor to re-filling the plastic cartridge as it contains more ink. The best purchase I have made recently is a $2.80 pipette syringe I got from Daiso (thanks Clover). This is so easy to use –  I use it to fill up all my pens now – and it is making my Visconti less necessary.

Ok… I think I better get back to my long list of things to do…

Would be very interested in hearing other people’s way of travelling with ink!


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  • Deborah says:

    Following all this with interest! I've just returned from a trip where I travelled with Noodlers bulletproof black Iin a tiny glass jam jar (Tiptree sell them as samples or individual servings) inside a plastic ziplock bag. It worked perfectly – the lid has a rubbery seal on the inside as it has to contain a semi-liquid (jam!) and I now decant Noodlers ink into these wide mouthed little jars as they're so much easier to fill a pen from. Thanks for all your invaluable tips!

  • corikay says:

    Thank so much Liz! I have always wanted to know how you traveled with ink!

  • fiona verity says:

    Thanks for this Liz i have just been to the snow in New Zealand with my ink in small pots i purchased some small windsor and Newton ones as they were on special as i love drawing with a dip pen and ink i also have a bottle of sumi ink that is in a plastic bottle perfect for travel.. .. i took them on as a hand luggage but i will def be packing my fountain pen ink as you suggest and putting it into my wash bag.. thanks for the post

  • MiataGrrl says:

    Thanks for all these great tips! My ink/pen prep is a bit simpler than yours, but I also don't sketch nearly as much as you do 🙂 so I don't need as much ink. I, too, discovered that empty cartridges have a greater capacity than the converters, so I use those now when traveling, too. My process is actually fairly similar to yours: I wrap pens in tissue and then zip-lock bags, and I've had only minor leaks. But since I typically use only black waterproof ink (and occasionally brown), I find that if I fill all of my pens (usually four or five), that's enough to last me for a 2-week trip. My backup used to be a technical pen, but like you, I can't stand the uniform line, so I gave that up. Now my backup is to purchase sealed cartridges of waterproof ink for the pen brands I use (mostly Sailor and Pilot). I don't like the cartridge inks as much as I like my go-to Platinum Carbon Black, but since they are for backup use, I'm fine with them for emergencies. Not economical, but much easier than filling and managing small containers of ink.

    – Tina

    – Tina

  • I use the little sample ink vials that Goulet sends…handy, no leakage!

    I haven't thought to wrap pens in tissue, but I do put them in ziplock bags…

    MiataGrrl, You can buy the Platinum Carbon Black cartridges…

  • Liz, you are just truly amazing. Love seeing these types of posts!

  • Susan King says:

    I took my Platinum Fountain Pen out sketching today (with its standard cartridge). It leaked on me. 🙁 It wasn’t upright in my bag as I walked, and it was hot out. Any thoughts as to why this might have been?

  • Kenneth Lee says:

    Just designed a portable ink container using a 12cm length of vinyl tube with internal diameter of 9mm and 2 silicon rubber stoppers.

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