I travel a LOT. Which means I know a thing or two about the best bags for traveling. Since my trips range from 3-12 days with a carry-on suitcase, I only have room to pack 1 handbag for all of the events, sightseeing and activities that I do on my trip. I have probably amassed more than 30 bags in the past 5 years (I worked for a handbag company, let’s not forget) so I’ve done my fair share of research and found that I am always coming back to the same shapes and silhouettes trip over trip.
What makes my list of Best Bags for Traveling? There are three important rules.
If Goldilocks was choosing the bag she would say it shouldn’t be too big and it shouldn’t be too small. It has to be just right. It MUST fit a DSLR camera, that’s one of my rules. No tiny clutches or fanny packs here. You have to be able to carry your camera, maybe a guidebook or a notebook, plus your wallet and necessary items. But then again it can’t be too big because no one wants to wander the streets of Marrakesh carrying a tote bag full of receipts and scarves and lipgloss. If it’s smaller, you are forced to edit, which means you carry only the essentials, comfortably.
The next most important rule is the strap length. I recommend something that has either a long strap for crossbody length or fits neatly under the sleeve like a tote bag (but not too big!). Bonus points if the bag strap is convertible and you can wear it both ways. What you are looking for here is security and convenience. A crossbody strap is convenient because your hands can be completely free, but the bag is closely hanging in front of you to make sure your camera and money are at a close distance. Same with a close-fitting tote. Although there is a big trend in stylish backpacks for traveling, I personally disagree with this movement. I carried a backpack with me in Tokyo, and I was constantly flipping it around to grab my camera, phone, wallet and swing it back. I think it makes sense for plane/train travel as your second bag option, but I would never again make that choice for my only handbag option.
The third criteria to make the my best bags for travel list is weight. It HAS TO BE LIGHTWEIGHT. I don’t care how cool the studding is on your Alexander Wang bag, leave it at home. Because carrying that thing around all day with your camera and all of your souvenirs is bound to give you some sort of shoulder pain, and we already have to deal with that with our shoes! Look for unlined leather options, mesh or nylon (if you must), and minimal hardware to make sure there is no unnecessary weight.
Here are my favorite travel bags below- many of which I have a carry!
The best bags for Travel: