Crafting was popular before 2020, but since the pandemic, it’s seen a serious surge. The New York Times even published a piece titled “What We Learned from a Year of Crafting.” Spoiler alert: it helps keep us grounded and gives us a much-needed sense of control in this crazy little thing called life. While most arts and crafts imply having materials on hand and space to create, many are conducive to camping. From rock painting to calligraphy, here are eight arts and crafts you can easily take on the road.
1. Rock painting
All you need are rocks, paintbrushes and washable, water-based paints for this easy kid-friendly project. “Some of the stones we end up bringing home, but most of the time we leave them alongside the lake for others to enjoy later,” says Dan Morris, a chainsaw enthusiast who camps in New Zealand. His family does their rock painting by their favorite lake for swimming as it’s an easy way to clean up any mess.
2. Stick looms
Stick looms are another great craft that utilizes natural materials (although you should first make sure you’re in a place where it’s OK to take them). Craftiments has a great guide that details how to make your own. In addition to the twigs, leaves, bark and flowers you collect, you’ll need yarn to hold it all together.
3. Needle felting
Tracey Beni is a long-time crafter and camper. One of her favorite projects to complete while camping is needle felting. “It’s small enough I can have everything I need with me and I can complete an entire project while on the road, in the passenger’s seat,” says the founder of Baker Street Living. Her biggest tip for beginners is to start with a ready-to-make kit that comes with all of the tools and wool you’ll need.
“If I’m sitting, I’m knitting,” says Krista, a full-time RVing nomad and the founder of ExploreWithKnitsy.com. She does it on travel days as well as when she’s sitting around the campfire. That said, she’s so good at it now she can easily knit while walking, too. “I even do it at the zoo and museums!” Her tip for beginners is to seek out the nearest yarn shop. “They’re everywhere and most yarn shops love new knitters so it’s easy to schedule a lesson or pop in to ask a question.”
Krista is also a big fan of crocheting. “I always have at least 2-3 projects with me – and yarn stashed away for many more!” Crocheting is a bit easier to learn than knitting since it uses simpler techniques and tools. Even kids can pick it up if they have the patience. Just make sure they start with thicker yarn and bigger hooks which aren’t as hard to use. Fun fact: crochet even has a “camping stitch.”
After getting settled at his campsite, Mark Joy starts songwriting. “I find I’m inspired and calmed by being away from the normal daily grind,” says the musician and founder of Mark Joy Blogs. “I can get in the zone and quickly come up with chords, melodies, and lyrics that I’m happy with. I will then take them home to record a full production in my studio.” When he’s short on space, he brings his travel guitar which is much smaller. For beginners, he recommends bringing a guitar and books on songwriting and music theory. “This is a great time to learn while you don’t have distractions like school, work or nagging chores.”
7. Watercolor painting
Before she was a working artist and settled with a studio, Barb Toland was living full-time in a motorhome. She traveled the country for seven years. “During this time I taught myself how to paint using watercolors,” says Toland who had no clue she’d just stumbled upon her future career. She painted from her camp chair while sitting outside, from the dinette in her RV and she even packed her paints in her backpack for hikes. “I painted the beautiful images and landscapes that surrounded us and used them to record beautiful memories of our time on the road,” says Toland.
Britannica defines calligraphy as “the art of beautiful handwriting.” It’s been practiced by different cultures around the world for thousands of years. These days, it’s what Candice Criscione – who has traveled the world working as a hiking and cycling guide for Backroads – does when she’s on the road. “It’s the perfect hobby for traveling because I just need a pen and paper,” says the founder of MominItaly.com. Her tip for beginners is to get a flexible book light that you can attach to your notebook so you can work in low light conditions. “Also, make your calligraphy about your trip. Label pages and attach photos, ticket stubs, etc.”
Katie Jackson is a writer and media specialist based in Montana’s Big Sky Country. Living and working everywhere from New York to Nicaragua, Katie is no stranger to adventure. When she’s not traveling the world (or writing about it!) she’s busy chasing after a Leonberger named Zeus. Follow Katie’s travels on Instagram @katietalkstravel.