13 Best Travel Sketchbooks for 2023: Perfect Gifts for Artists and Travelers

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Last Updated on July 20, 2023 by Dee

Do you love to travel and sketch? If so, you’re going to want to check out this list of the 13 best travel sketchbooks for 2023!

These sketchbooks are perfect for artists and travelers alike, and they make great gifts for anyone who loves to explore the world.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or just getting started, these sketchbooks will help you capture your memories and experiences in beautiful detail.

Table of Contents

best travel sketchbook for urban sketching

What is a travel sketchbook, you ask?

A travel sketchbook is essentially a pocket-sized or easy-to-carry visual diary, usually composed of good quality blank paper, on which you can draw, sketch, doodle, paint, and make art during your travels.

Whether you are traveling for work, waiting in a queue at the bank, or sitting on a bench in your local park, having a travel sketchbook is a valuable asset to creative living. It provides an immediate outlet for creative inspiration and ideas.

**This page may contain affiliate links to products I have used or recommend. If you purchase something from this page, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.**

Below is a list of the best travel sketchbooks for 2023.

13 Best Travel Sketchbooks for 2023

Pentalic Pocket Sketchbook Traveler Journal

Best Pocket Travel Sketchbook for Pencil and Ink

Size: 6” x 8”

Paper Weight: 120gsm

Pages: 160

Suitable for: sketching with pencil and ink on the go!

The Pentalic Sketchbook Traveler Journal was made from recycled, acid-free paper for professionals, students, and artists to sketch journals or draw art and their surroundings.

It is an everyday sketchbook! It includes an expandable pocket, an elastic band to close it, and a ribbon to mark your page.

hands drawing in a travel sketchbook with a cup of coffee to the left

Ricco Bello Art Sketchbook

Best Vegan-Friendly Travel Sketchbook

Size: 5.5” x 5.5”

Paper Weight: 180gsm

Pages: 128

Suitable for: Dry mediums – pencil, pen, markers, pastels, and light washes

Is the Ricco Bello Art Sketchbook worth it? Yes! The Ricco Bello Sketchbook is a high-quality, vegan-friendly sketchbook with a vegan leather cover, and it is perfectly square in shape.

These are the ideal dimensions for sharing on social media. It is also important to note that this sketchbook is a lay-flat sketchbook, making it easy to work on a two-page spread. It also has an elastic enclosure and a ribbon to mark your page.

Arteza 5.1” x 8.3” Sketch Book

Best Travel Sketchbook For Colored Pencils

Size: 5.1” x 8.3”

Paper Weight: 175gsm

Pages: 100

Suitable for: colored pencils, pencil, pen, ink, markers, and pastel.

The Arteza sketchbook is high quality and good for use with most media and in fact is at the top of my list for the best sketchbook for pencil and ink. It includes a ribbon to mark your page and also an expandable inner pocket to hold your visual references, notes, and ephemera.

This travel sketchbook comes in a pack of 3 notebooks and is very easy to travel with. It also has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you aren’t happy with it, you can simply ask for a refund.

[Related article: Aesthetic Things to Draw]

Tumuarta Square Watercolor Journal

Best Travel Sketchbook For Mixed Media

Size: 5.5” x 5.5”

Paper Weight: 300gsm

Pages: 48

Suitable for: Watercolor, acrylics, pen, pencil, markers, pastel, and more. It also tolerates firm pressure from using an eraser.

The Tumuarta square watercolor journal is composed of 25% cotton 300gsm heavyweight watercolor paper. It is cold-pressed and easily holds mixed media studies – great for wet media!

The paper is acid-free and stays vibrant over time without turning yellow or fading. Another great aspect of this journal is that the sheets are microperforated so that they can be easily turned or removed if you want to.

The paper tears easily along the micro-perforations, and you can remove a page in order to frame an artwork you created during your travels.

This is a lay-flat sketchbook which means you can work on a two-page spread at once. This sketchbook has a sturdy cover with round corners to protect you from accidental paper cuts, and it also includes a handy back pocket to store your reference images, photos, ephemera, and small items you have found along your journey.

Arteza 3.5” x 5.5” Watercolor Book

Best Travel Sketchbook For Markers

Size: 3.5” x 5.5”

Paper Weight: 230gsm

Pages: 80

Suitable for: Watercolor washes, pen, pencil, pastel, ink.

The Arteza Watercolor Book is a wonderfully portable option for a travel sketchbook. It is pocket-sized and has the perfect amount of tooth for watercolor painting and mixed media studies.

This sketchbook comes in a set of three It is a dual-sided sketchbook and is perfect for beginners and more advanced artists to explore their creativity.

The pages are acid-free and are natural linen-bound. It includes an inner pocket to store reference images, photos, and small items, and it also has an elastic strap to prevent it from opening and getting damaged.

[Related Article: How to Start Drawing]

Leather Writing Journal Notebook

Best Refillable Travel Sketchbook

Size: 7.3” x 5.0”

Paper Weight: 80gsm

Pages: 160

Suitable for: Pencil and pen.

This classic spiral refillable travel sketchbook has a nautical, vintage aesthetic to it. It comes with 160 pages which are mostly suitable for sketching and writing.

The sketchbook cover is made from durable man-made leather, and it’s a handy sketchbook to have if you want to add or remove pages easily.

Travel Journal Kids Prompts Sketchbook

Best Kids Travel Sketchbook

Size: 6” x 9”

Paper Type: Crisp white paper

Suitable for: Pencil and pen

The travel journal kids sketchbook is a great place for kids to record their experiences while traveling.

It provides prompts to stimulate their writing, drawing and art-making. It includes activities, gratitude prompts, and sketchbook pages to draw and log each day.

Kids are prompted to log the weather, what they saw, what they ate, who they met, and what they learned about during the day. They are also prompted to draw or sketch any interesting sites they would like to include.

This journal is durable and lightweight to carry around. It also makes for a great birthday or pre-travel gift and can be used during pit stops, waiting at terminals, or on the airplane, bus, or train.

Leather Journal Tree of Life

Best Vintage Keepsake Travel Sketchbook

Size: A5

Paper Weight: 125gsm

Pages: 120

Suitable for: Pencil, pen, markers, and colored pencils.

This traveling sketchbook is a beautifully crafted Coptic leather-bound and embossed journal with a vintage tree design on the cover. It is handmade from 100% genuine leather, and no two journals are exactly the same. Because of this, it becomes a special keepsake for your sketching, thoughts, and ideas.

The paper used is hand-crafted, recycled, tree-free and environmentally friendly. It is acid-free, and because of the thickness and the fiber of the paper, there is no bleed-through from pen ink.

This makes it great for wet media and also a beautiful and creative birthday gift or travel gift for a loved one. In the unlikely event you don’t absolutely love your sketchbook; you have up to a year to ask for a full refund or free replacement.

Your purchase will also be helping children in Zambia in Africa, as a percentage of the profits go to Tehila, a Non-Profit organization that promotes the prevention of child cruelty.

Arteza 3.5 x 5.5” Mini Sketch Book

Best Mini Travel Sketchbook

Size: 3.5” x 5.5”

Paper Weight: 175gsm

Pages: 88

Suitable for: Pencil, pen, markers, charcoal, and colored pencils.

Arteza is known for its high-quality paper and sketchbooks that are built to last. This is a great travel-sized sketchbook with thick paper and is perfect for all dry media and light watercolor washes.

This traveling sketchbook includes an inner pocket to store your art reference images, photographs, ephemera, and small embellishments. It also has an elastic strap to hold the sketchbook closed and a ribbon as a page marker.

Arteza has a 100% satisfaction guarantee – if you are not happy with the product, you can request a refund or replacement.

Field Artist 4” x 4” Square Watercolor Journal

Best Travel Sketchbook For Urban Sketching

Size: 4” x 4”

Paper Weight: 200gsm

Pages: 80

Suitable for: Watercolor or ink washes, acrylic paint, pencil, pen, charcoal, and markers

The Field Artist Travel Sketchbook comes in a square format, the perfect format for Instagram artwork posts.  

This traveling sketchbook contains high-quality, 200gsm thick paper and cold-pressed paper, ideal for watercolor or ink washes, sketching, and mixed media art. It is a perfect travel-sized sketchbook for artists who want to work en Plein air or carry it around urban scenery.

This sketchbook is durable and is hardbound in soft, gray thermo-PU leather. It has a panorama fold-out in the back cover for an elongated drawing surface as a cool extra.

[Related article: How to use graphite paper for drawing]

Moleskin Art Sketch Album

Best travel sketchbook for graphite pencil or charcoal drawing

Size: 3.5” x 5.5”

Paper Weight: 120gsm

Pages: 72

Suitable for: Pencil and pen drawing.

A very popular choice of a sketchbook, this Moleskin Sketchbook is pocket-sized and high-quality.

This is the best pocket sketchbook on my list because it is durable and is suitable for use with a wide variety of dry media. It’s is a pity that it doesn’t have thicker paper because then it could be used for wet media too.

[Wondering How to Find Your Art Style? Read this blog post!]

Strathmore 483-5 Softcover Watercolor Art Journal

Best Travel Sketchbook For Watercolor Painting

Size: 8” x 5.5”

Paper Weight: 300gsm

Pages: 24

Suitable for: Watercolor, ink, pen, pencil, mixed media, and most other media.

Strathmore paper is high-quality with natural white color and is perfect for mastering ink and watercolor washes. Because the 300gsm paper has a good tooth, it is also ideal for mixed media artwork. This is a great sketchbook to travel with and has a velvety softcover.

Leda Art Supply Pocket Stitched Sketchbook or Field Journal

Best Pocket Field Travel Sketchbook

Size: 3.5” x 5.5”

Paper Weight: 216gsm

Pages: 160

Suitable for: Pencil, ink, pen, pastel, charcoal, and light washes.

Leda Pocket Stitched Sketchbook or Field is ideal for light color washes and most dry media. It fits easily into your pocket for easy traveling and sketching anywhere. It has 160 pages, so it won’t be used up too quickly and is bound in durable leather, which means it is ideal for the outdoors.

It has been tested by wilderness guides who take the Pocket Leda on backpack trips in the Rocky Mountains! It is the perfect field journal and a great gift for outdoors lovers!

13-Awesome-Travel-Sketchbooks-|-Start-Exploring-Your-World-Again-(2022) 5

How do I choose a sketchbook?

There are various factors to consider when you are choosing a travel sketchbook to buy.

Handmade travel sketchbook


What is the best-sized sketchbook?

It is important to reflect on your own artistic processes and artmaking. What size are you comfortable working on, and what size do you usually work on?

If you choose a travel sketchbook that is too large, it can be difficult to carry around with you on your travels. You really want a sketchbook that is easy to take out and do a quick sketch in.

On the other hand, if you choose a sketchbook that is too small, then you might feel frustrated by the limited space available for your artmaking.

However, this all depends on your style of art-making and what size you usually work on.

 It is good to test out some quick impromptu sketching or art-making on different-sized plain sheets of paper to get a sense of what would better suit your needs.

Spend an hour sketching someone at a café on a sheet of A6 paper, or sit on your balcony and draw a stationary bicycle on an A4 page.

Generally speaking, a travel sketchbook is a smaller and more compact than a regular sketchbook because it must be travel-friendly and easy to slip in and out of a pocket or bag.

A5 size or approx. 5” x 8” is my ideal travel-size sketchbook. It doesn’t quite fit into your pocket, but it is small enough to fit into a handbag easily.

I also find that working on an A5 page size means that I have a good amount of space to quickly sketch down something I see on my travels in pen, pencil, charcoal, or watercolor.


This is a really important factor because you want to make sure you have selected a strong sketchbook to weather the elements!

Your travel sketchbook is going to be slipped in and out of your bag or pocket often, it’s going to be placed on strange surfaces (like rocks, a grassy mound, or the sidewalk!), it’s going to be drizzled on, and possibly have coffee (or wine) spilled on it!

The best travel sketchbook must be well bound and have a waterproof protective cover to prevent the book from buckling and the pages from getting damaged.

It also really helps to have an elastic band or tie of sorts to hold your books closed. This will prevent your book from opening in your luggage and getting damaged.

Paper Weight

Make sure to choose a travel sketchbook that has good quality paper-heavy paper.

A good quality sketchbook will have a cotton paper that is at least 120gsm. This is perfect for sketching and using dry media on paper. It will also tolerate you using an eraser firmly on the surface without tearing it.

If you want to work with markers or fountain pens, it is recommended to go for a heavier paperweight, – 200gsm or more. This means the paper is denser and won’t have ink bleed through it.

300gsm cotton paper is ideal for painting with watercolor and ink washes. You should also choose a travel sketchbook with 300gsm paper if you are looking for a sketchbook in which to work on mixed media art. This paper will easily hold various liquid glue and gel mediums without buckling or tearing.

Cold-Pressed or Hot-Pressed

A travel sketchbook can have either cold-pressed or hot-pressed paper. The cold-pressed paper has more texture to it and has a more pronounced tooth, whereas hot-pressed paper is smoother with almost no tooth.

The bumps and texture of the cold-pressed paper allow it to better hold and absorb liquid without buckling. This makes cold-press paper ideal for watercolor painting, ink washes, and mixed media art.

The hot-pressed paper doesn’t hold liquid very well and tends to buckle when washes are applied on its surface. For this reason, hot-pressed paper is better suited for dry media like graphite pencil, charcoal, pen, and colored pencil.

It is important to note that markers will work on heavier gsm hot-pressed paper, but bleed through will occur on thinner paper.

Amount of Pages

Choose a sketchbook that is lightweight and easy to carry. A sketchbook with too many pages can make it more difficult to carry around. Aim for a balance between a good amount of pages (at least 70) and something that isn’t too heavy.


One of the most important factors to consider when looking at the best travel sketchbooks is layout. It is good to get a lay-flat travel sketchbook if you would like to work on a two-page spread at once. This means that the sketchbook will open up and lie flat so both pages can be worked on at the same time. Essentially, you can create artwork that extends over both pages.

It is very useful to have a spiral bound lay-flat travel sketchbook if you are painting botanicals or detailed illustrations where you don’t want to be holding the sketchbook open all the time.

That being said, having a sketchbook that you can hold with one hand, and sketch in with the other is absolutely fine! In fact, that’s how most artists work!

How do you make a travel sketchbook?

You can make your own travel sketchbook from scratch by arranging sheets of paper into collections called signatures. You can then sew the signatures into a cover to bind the book. For more details on how to make your own sketchbook from scratch, you can read my article on Junk Journal 101 for tips on how to do this.

You can also make your own sketchbook by using a readymade old textbook, encyclopedia, novel, or another book with a firm cover.

You can remove and add pages and paper to the book and repurpose the book as an art journal or travel sketchbook. This is called an altered sketchbook or art journal.

best travel sketchbook for urban sketching

[Related Post: Let’s Explore Pen Ink and Watercolor in our Travel Journals]

How do you sketch when traveling?

[Related Post: A List of the Best Junk Journal Supplies]

Here are some tips for sketching while traveling:

Keep your sketchbook close by

Have your travel sketchbook available in your handbag, backpack, or pocket for those moments when you are suddenly inspired by something you see on your travels. You really don’t want to be wasting precious time and energy rummaging around in your luggage for your sketchbook!

Keep essential art supplies close by

It’s a good idea to have a small pencil bag that can hold your essential supplies – pencils, pens, eraser, watercolor pans, glue stick, scissors, and markers. You can also get a travel-sized watercolor pan that is easy to whip out when the moment strikes!

Release the desire to draw or make perfect art

Perfectionism kills creativity. Remind yourself that making art is much more about the process than the end result, and beauty is found in imperfection.

Commit to drawing/ making one page a day on your travels

In order to reap the fruits of your artistic labor, it is important that you work consistently in your travel sketchbook. Just think about how great it will be at the end of your journey when you can look back over all the creative explorations and memories of your travel.

Consistently working on your travel sketchbook will also get your creativity flowing, and new sketchbook ideas and thoughts will emerge. You will also find your art-making skills will improve with this regular practice.

[Want to sketch better? Read my top tips on How to Improve Your Drawing]

Annotate your drawings

Just because it’s a travel sketchbook doesn’t mean you can’t write in it too! It’s a great idea to write down notes about what you see and experience on your journey. Write about what you are drawing and what inspires your artmaking.

Here is some excellent travel sketchbook art prompts to start you on your travel sketchbook!

10 Travel Sketchbook Prompts

  • Morning light
  • Something New
  • A Beautiful Stone
  • An Interesting Stranger
  • Music or Song Lyrics
  • A quote from a book I am reading
  • Landscape/ Cityscape
  • Nature
  • Shoes
  • Café/bar/restaurant scene
empty travel sketchbook with a compass under it

Other Art Supplies You Might Need

[Best Watercolor Set for Beginners]
[Best Drawing Kit for Creative People]
[The Top Black Paper Sketchbooks]
[Gifts for Artists who Paint]
[Gifts for Artists who Draw]
[Art Journal Supplies]



If you are an artist who loves to travel or a traveler who loves to sketch, we hope that this list has helped you choose the best travel sketchbook for you and has given you some ideas for your next artistic adventure 😉

In the comments below, we would love to hear about your favorite sketchbooks and art supplies for traveling. Happy sketching!

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