How to Take Artist Oil Paints on Airplanes


Transporting delicate materials is never an easy thing to do on an airplane, but the task becomes even more difficult when the materials in question come in liquid form. Given the fact that all forms of liquid exceeding 3.4 ounces are banned from carry-on luggage during domestic and international flights -- it is now necessary to pack delicate items, such as oil paints in your luggage. However, with careful planning and proper placement, oil paints should travel very well, with minimal hassle.

Things You'll Need

  • Sealable plastic baggies
  • Paper towel
  • Plastic cosmetics bag
  • Bubble wrap

At Home

  • Tighten the tops of each tube of oil paint. Wrap each tube individually with multiple sheets of paper towel. Be sure to cover each inch of the tube. Drop your tube of paint on the ground from a height of about five feet. If the tube does not splatter, you have wrapped it adequately.

  • Place each individually wrapped tube in a separate plastic baggie. Remove the excess air from the baggie before sealing it. Tape the seal with clear packing tape, to ensure that the seal does not come undone in transit. Roll each baggie so that it forms a tubular shape with the tube of paint inside.

  • Put the baggies in a plastic cosmetics bag with a sturdy zipper. Pack in some extra paper towel, so that there is minimal space between the tubes. The cosmetics bag should be thick enough to prevent spillage in the event of a tube explosion.

  • Wrap the cosmetics bag in bubble wrap and place it in the middle of your suitcase. Pack your clothes, toiletries and other items around the bag of paint, to create cushioning from every angle that will prevent accidents during luggage handling. Do not place shoes near the cosmetics bag. A heel could easily puncture the bag and cause a major leak.

At the Airport

  • Have your suitcase wrapped in plastic wrap when you arrive at the airport. Almost every major international airport has a kiosk that offers suitcase wrapping for a fee. The extra layer of protection on the outside of the suitcase, could make a major difference to the safety of your paint.

  • Download the manufacturer's information about your oil paints ahead of time and have it accessible, should a customs agent wish to examine your bag. Most oil paints are vegetable based, so a simple list of ingredients will ensure officials that your oil paints are not dangerous cargo. If you cannot find the manufacturer's website, call their customer service number and request a list of ingredients. This information can be found on the paint packaging.

  • Ask that the suitcase containing the oil paint be labeled as "Delicate Cargo." This may cost an extra fee, depending on the airport you're at, but it is a worthwhile investment.

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  • Photo Credit row of paints image by Gleb Semenjuk from
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