Ink Traveling Kit

December has arrived! With the multitude of holidays that land in December, many pen and ink fans will be traveling to see family and friends while others may take vacations away from home. We thought it would be appropriate to show a few ways the team at the Desk travels with pen, ink, and paper.

I travel to plenty of pen shows during the year and will be making a guest appearance at the Dromgoole’s store next weekend to talk about ink as well. This frequency has helped me to hone my travel kit down to what I consider the bare minimum. My kit has become modular so I can quickly grab the mix of items I will need at any gathering.

First is paper. I won’t show up to any pen gathering without great paper and typically several kinds. I use the Lochby Notebook holder (I purchased this from Gentleman Stationer) because I can fit 1, 2, or even 3 notebooks into it and still cinch it closed. Currently I have a Tomoe River notebook (from Musubi), a Cosmo Air Light notebook (also from Musubi), and a Midori MD Light notebook (I think I purchased it from Vanness).

Also, I love stickers.

My next piece is an ink swatching brick. Nock made these pouches years ago to hold business card-sized items and a pen, but it’s also perfect to fit Col-O-Ring cards, a dip pen (made from a Traveler’s ballpoint pen body and a dip nib), and a travel paintbrush. In locations where I won’t have easy access to water (to rinse the paintbrush), I substitute several q-tips for the brush.

These Nock pouches are no longer produced but I’ve found great replacements – Rickshaw Bags makes a great zippered pouch and a Pac-Man wallet that fit the same items perfectly.

When I can’t get ahold of a pouch for this purpose, I’ve substituted a full Col-o-Ring and a rubber band that can hold a dip pen and q-tips as well. I do believe this is the most minimal ink swatch kit possible.

The next piece in my modular design is another Lochby piece – the Venture pouch. This one I also purchased from Gentleman Stationer. I like the two pouches on this piece – on the side that is two pouches, I throw in my larger swatching tools – a second paint brush, a capped glass dip pen, and a brass nib dip pen. Sometimes a folded pen will also find a place here. I also keep a few un-inked pens like TWSBIs or Preppys (the ones below are inked from my last venture) and a few pens that can write on most surfaces – you would be surprised how often these come in handy.

The other side of the same pouch opens up to elastic loops. Here I keep tools that I currently find handy.

In the photo below, the top group is a glue pen and a retractable sharp blade. On the right are two versions of water brush pens – sometimes I will fill the larger one with ink rather than water. The group on the left consists of a highlighter/felt pen combo, a white gel pen, and a mechanical pencil. On the bottom of the photo are a Pilot Preppy pen and a refillable felt tip pen, both filled with a waterproof black ink. All of these tools are for playing with ink and paper.

The final module of my kit is the clean and repair portion. I’ll still bring this to most get-togethers, but it doesn’t come out as often. This kit lives in a plastic-y pouch so I can put wet items in on the way out of a meet up but I can also safely store tools that are every pokey.

This kit contains (clock-wise from the top left) Mylar paper for nib smoothing, an old rag that I cut from a baby swaddling blanket, a snot sucker tool for cleaning pens, a pokey dental pick (I got this one from my dentist when it was too old to be resharpened and they were going to throw it out), a nib flossing thing, section pliers, wire cutter (blue handle), a piece of rubber tube that helps grip, a sunshine cloth for polishing, an ink syringe, a retractable Sharpie (probably one of the most used items in this kit), and a few empty ink sample vials.

This kit is remarkable for the variety of problems it can solve in the field – at pen shows, meet-ups, traveling, and even just on hand near my desk.

I always stuff things together as much as I can!

So that is my entire travel kit. This doesn’t include pens themselves – that is a whole different post for sometime in the future. Various portions of this kit are always with me whenever I travel. Each has an easy way to carry by a handle or loop, and they stack together well. I’ve refined these over then years until I am fairly certain I will be prepared for 99% of what I will encounter at pen-related gatherings. Do you have a kit you like to take?

DISCLAIMER: The items in this post were purchased by me. For more information, see our About page.

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9 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Love seeing your kit! You have obviously put in a lot of thought and made refinements over time from your experiences.

  2. I’ve been looking for a new pouch because all of the ones I have are too small for colored pencils. That seems like a straightforward need, and yet…

    1. How many colored pencils do you want to carry? I carry about 6-8 in my daily-carry (along with a few pens), and they fit nicely in a Rickshaw Sinclair Model R. If you want to carry more than that, you might need a roll instead of a pouch.

      Tina (butting into Ana’s post because I heard someone say “colored pencils”)

  3. Hello Ana!

    What a thorough and useful post! Thank you so much. Having to travel some next week and feeling ill-prepared, even if it is only a half-day work event and everything could be thrown willy-nilly in the car.

    The swatching brick is genius. Could you share how you made your travel dip pen, please? Was it really as simple as taking out the ballpoint refill and finding a dip nib to fit? (Sadly, not all of us have a vast supply of parts with which to Frankenpen.)

    Is what you call the Lochby Notebook holder the same as what shows on the Lochby site as the Field Journal? Had totally forgotten about Lochby as an alternative to all things leather. Thank you for the reminder.

    Are you able to fly with the retractable sharp blade? Or does it stay home?

    Always looking for alternatives. I do love my Lihit Lab bags so very much. They hold so much and make me feel organized. The large book case holds fountain pens and other various pens plus correction tape, eraser, ruler, pencils and such. One I purchased at the same time appears to be discontinued, but it’s more for notebooks/books and holds my basic snail mail supplies. I can easily fit a Rhodia No. 16 pad, envelopes, and a calendar or thin paperback book inside. The slim pencil case was purchase with the intent of sketching out and about, but that habit is still in development. It’s a quite useful size for all the pencils and Micron pens (which are getting swapped out for a Preppy, Sailor Fude, and Lamy Safari loaded with waterproof ink). The outside pocket can hold a Field Notes or a 33 Books tasting journal. And they are brilliant orange, which makes them easy to track.

    Eager to learn about how you travel with your fountain pens.

    May all your travels be safe and fun!


  4. Wow. Clearly, I’m never so prepared as you are! I’m impressed! Are the section pliers for removing nib/feed (I know the rubber piece is also for this), or for removing s stubborn section from its barrel?

    1. The pen is a modified Traveler’s Notebook pen (or pencil) that Jesi replaced the refill with a dip pen clutch insert and then installed a dip pen nib into it. We will post a detailed DIY post about this soon.

  5. Thank you, thank you, Ana (and Tina)! Question: Is that a Rickshaw bag as a backdrop? Which color is it? It’s gorgeous. As always & in inky goodness.

  6. Thank you, Ana (& Tina)! Might I ask if the backdrop in the earlier images is a Rickshaw bag? If so, what material is it? It is gorgeous.

    Yours in inky goodness.

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