Five Tips for Working (Successfully) with Beads on a Roadtrip

Beadwork and roadtrips might sound like an oxymoron, but really, it can be done. Naturally, bead working and driving do not go together – but if you're a passenger, and if you plan carefully, you can actually produce some pretty good pieces of jewelry as the miles slip away. Try out these tips for having a successful beading travel experience!

#1 Use a Fishing Tackle Box to Hold Bead Materials
Yes, those little bead boxes at the craft shop are cute. But after you've found the box lid popped open and a ton of beads heaped up in the bottom of your craft carry-all, you'll know you want something better. Okay - head for the nearest sporting goods store and grab a tackle box. The little ones, with about eight compartments, are convenient for most road travel - lids lock firmly, and the high dividers inside keep beads from mixing from one compartment to the next.

#2 Spread a Blanket or Sweatshirt Over Your Lap Before You Bead
This is a great way to corral all the little pieces of stuff you need. And dropped beads and fasteners roll around on the cloth, instead of diving for the floor and hiding under a car seat. When it's time to leave the car, just wrap up the cloth and set it aside. No re-packing of tiny envelopes!

Spilled Beads
Work over a cloth, like a blanket, towel or hoodie - easy clean-up when beads spill.
Photo By Louisa Danielson

#3 Take a Little Time to Choose the Pattern and Beads, First
It is a lot of fun to create stuff as you go. But if you're trying to make a matched necklace/bracelet set, or you only have twenty clear glass pieces left and have to space them out, fish out the beads you want ahead of time. Put them in a semi-secure place, like a cup holder, as you skim across the highway. Then, you only have to reach and grab as you go.

#4 Think About Doing Some Braiding
Beads and hemp braid go together, especially on long car trips. It's easy to find something in the car – a coat hook hanger, visor end, etc. to loop the braid over. Then you just weave the pattern you like and string on a chunky bead at the correct interval. It's a lot easier than tying each pearl onto a slippery thread – and it has that cool, vacation vibe. What's not to like about a woven necklace on vacation?

#5 Remember to Hunt for New Beads as You Travel
Interesting beads and bead shops are everywhere. Keep a sharp eye out for unique craft places where you can pick up drilled-out pieces of amber or tiger eye, or maybe a hanging pendant at a gift shop. Shells from the beach often have little holes in them – these work for eye-catching centerpieces, too. Some special finds you get on trips have to be packed and saved until you reach home. But other things – like beading materials – can be put into immediate action. Now that's satisfying!

Shells as beads
Shells you find on the beach sometimes have holes where the hinges were - this makes them easy for threading onto necklaces and bracelets.
Photo by Louisa Danielson

Louisa Danielson has been beading for years. She's also a freelance writer who specializes in travel and community events.