Since 9/11, travelling by air became tricky. My air adventures started two or three years post 9/11 and involved packing with an abundance of plastic bags, small containers of liquids and nothing remotely pointy, bye bye knitting needles.
A big part of my current job mandates international air travel, not that I’m complaining there. Frequently, I need to pack my life into two larger checked-in bags, one small carry-on and a backpack that holds my laptop and other much needed electronic devices. This needs to be enough for several months at a time. So it is important for me to bring that part of my life, my life after hours, art.
Up until more recently, I just played it safe and put everything in checked-in. But my gouaches did not like the deep freeze, re-thaw process and pinpoint holes developed in the tubes making for a mess and wasting precious drops. Watercolors and other tube paints I would imagine to have similar difficulties.
While they may get you pulled aside by the TSA momentarily, just a quick smile and an affirmation that your potentially dangerous carry-on actually contains friendly water-based paints, and you will be on your way. For oil based paints, do call your airline and if they can travel in your check on, I would get an email confirmation and have a printed copy with you just in case.
I haven’t yet gotten to the point of packing all of my art supplies in my carry on, but in addition to my gouache, I stow away my Micro pens, pencils and drawing accessories. Larger, pointer items and liquids that may have the potential to be become landfill waste, all go in my checked-in luggage. That means my palette knifes, inks, scissors, papers, brushes, and art board all get the deep freeze treatment, but I haven’t noticed any difference in the quality of these materials afterwards, so I think that this solution is what will fit.