No matter where you plan on venturing, it’s pretty much a given that you’ll need something to hold your daily items when you set out to explore a new place; whether that means wandering through cobbled streets in bustling European hubs or boarding your next plane ride.
For most travelers, this includes the basic necessities – wallet, cash, maps, phone, water bottle, and camera – but there are definitely going to be days where you wish you’d packed a spare sweater, a change of shoes, or even a book for lazy days on streetside cafés! This is where a tote bag comes in handy; you can pack everything you might need for the day in one convenient carry-all.
With so many options available, we’ve compiled some of the best travel totes and best travel purses to help give you an idea of what might best suit your next travel adventure.
Here are ten travel-friendly tote bags that work anywhere, from a day of adventure on the town to a mini weekend getaway!
The Best Travel Totes
Herschel — Strand Tote
Hershal makes some fantastic weekender and overnight bags. It would be hard to write a list of the best travel totes and not include an option from Herschel, given both their popularity and the durability of their products. Their Strand Tote is a perfect example of a bag with all the elements you need as a seasoned traveler. It’s even large enough for those overnight trips – whether you’re an hour’s drive from home or taking a train ride halfway across a European country.
Choose from one of eight different colors or patterns, each one offering the typical elements you’ll need to store your essential items: an interior zippered pocket and an external sleeve.
The bag has a little extra security when it comes to closure; not only does it zip all the way closed, but snap buttons on either end keep things extra secure and thief-repellant. Plus, Herschel, in general, is stylin’ enough that it’s no problem rocking this once you’re back home from your trip!
Patagonia — Iron Forge Tote
If you’re looking for something that will not only meet your personal needs but keep your conscience clear in the eco department, we’ve got just the bag for you. Patagonia’s Iron Forge Tote is constructed from a practically indestructible canvas made up of hemp, recycled polyester, and organic cotton, for an exterior that’s as eco-friendly as it is durable (seriously, this thing will outlast any trials you put it through).
It has padding in the sides and the bottom to keep whatever you store inside protected from any bumps in the road, a bonus for travelers ferrying around a laptop – there’s even a special sleeve inside for laptops up to 15”. And if it does get weighed down on those days where it feels like you need to take everything with you but the kitchen sink, the wrapped handles will help prevent the straps from cutting into your shoulders.
North Face — Stratoliner Tote
With a brand as well-established as North Face, it’s no wonder one of their bags made the list. The vertical depth makes this perfect for a laptop and a few extra things, so it’s a good go-to in pretty much any scenario – but especially on those days where you’re packing a little more stuff than usual.
A snap button at the top of the bag keeps the sides together to prevent anything from slipping out. Two side pockets are handy for a water bottle (and a spare), and there’s even a little outer zippered pouch for those things you need to keep close but don’t want to hold (train tickets, spare change, small snacks, or even the city map you keep referring to for directions).
Lululemon — Go Getter Bag
The name of this bag pretty much says it all – the Lululemon Go Getter bag is perfect for the full-steam-ahead goal chaser in you. It’s easily one of the best purses for international travel on this list. Sleek and uncomplicated design allows you to feel stylish, whether your days abroad look like sneakers and unwashed hair or leather boots and your dressiest winter coat.
The interior of the bag features organized pockets to help you categorize your belongings by need, whether that means your laptop and notebook for your morning remote work sesh, your Airbnb keys & cellphone, or the post-workout gear coined by Lulu as “sweaty unmentionables” (some things need their own space!).
Three different color options are on offer, so you can choose the best look to suit your day-to-day. Bonus: don’t worry about getting caught in the rain because the water-wicking material helps moisture slide right off. It’s also the perfect carry on bag for a woman and will hold everything you need for a long haul flight.
MEC 12-Hour Tote Bag
Things you didn’t know you needed: two-in-one bags. It’s so easy to start your day out light, but by the time you get home with a few unanticipated purchases from quaint little shops you spotted down a cobbled side street, your bag has doubled in weight, and your arms are killing you. Enter the MEC 12-Hour Tote Bag.
Not only does it have all the basic features that are critical for a travel tote (durable fabric, water resistant, interior pocket organizers for different needs, and a fleece-lined sleeve for your 13-inch laptop), but it has a couple of features that are unique to this model.
Since theft and pickpocketing are always a risk in major cities worldwide, the roll-top opening is an added layer of security against theft, so you can rest easy knowing your belongings are safely tucked away. But the winning feature is its ability to double as a backpack, thanks to the tote straps that convert into backpack straps when the load gets a little too much.
This is the bag you didn’t know you needed until now!
Fjallraven Totepack No. 1
Looking for the best travel purse and tote for Europe? Fjallraven has been putting itself on the map in recent years, and for a good reason. Thanks to apparel functional enough for outdoor travel & adventuring, but sophisticated enough to pass for day-to-day wear, this tote pack is definitely among the best travel handbags available.
Like the MEC 12-Hour Tote Bag, Fjallraven’s Totepack No. 1 converts into one of three different styles to maximize your comfort and match your style! Carry it by the short leather handles for a handbag, sling it over your shoulder for a classic tote, or convert the straps to backpack mode to better handle a little extra weight.
The fabric – a dense blend of recycled polyester and organic cotton – is treated with a light wax to help with moisture resistance, so feel free to get out in rainy weather.
Plus, because none of us want to sacrifice style for function, the leather detailing contrasts beautifully with the black canvas for a look that blends into pretty much any setting, no matter what your preferred kind of travel.
Timbuk2 Lug Tote Bag
A little more nondescript, the Timbuk2 Lug Tote Bag is made for the frequent flier. While it is a tote, the removable shoulder strap makes for a seamless transition from tote bag to shoulder bag (with the possibility for crossbody thanks to adjustable length). Perfect for airplane carry-ons!
The outside of this bag is svelte, with a streamlined design for a more subtle and sophisticated look. The fabric – a heavy-duty polyester twill – helps keep your items secure inside the internal pockets while still being lightweight enough to prove its worth as a grab-it-and-go kind of tote.
On the whole, this is an excellent option for the traveler who wants the extra space to be able to grab a few extra things for overnight trips but is not so big that it can’t serve as a day-to-day tote perfect for exploring a city.
prAna Slouch Tote
This tote wins the award for prettiest bag and best travel purse, if we had to choose based on looks. Luckily, that’s not what we did here; the prAna Slouch Tote isn’t just lovely to look at, it also ticks the boxes for the things you’re likely to look for in a travel tote.
Available in two different colors in a zig-zag pattern, this tote is perfect for beachy day trips or exploring old streets in your latest travel adventure. The organic cotton provides a durable exterior that helps protect against wear-and-tear and theft. Interior lining adds an extra layer to keep your items protected.
Thick & sturdy leather straps help support the weight of throwing a few extra things in there – because the beauty of traveling is that you never know what new things you’ll want to add to your day (including the odd souvenir here and there!)
Eddie Bauer — Zen Travel Tote
It’s no surprise that Eddie Bauer made the list, being a leading maker of trend-friendly outerwear. The Eddie Bauer Zen Travel Tote ticks all the boxes and is a multipurpose godsend for anyone who considers themselves a do-it-all kind of person.
It’s got an insulated water bottle pocket to keep your drinks cool, and added pockets (both interior and exterior) allow for storage of smaller things that you don’t want to lose among your other items.
The handles are roomy enough for your yoga mat to slip right in, and the removable and adjustable shoulder strap offers a seamless transition from tote bag to shoulder bag. There’s even a laptop sleeve for all you remote workers, for when you need to hit up a café to get a little freelance work done. If ever there was a bag to do it all, it’s this one.
Baggallini Avenue Tote
The Avenue Tote is easily one of the best tote bags for travel. Of the many things we love about the Baggallini Avenue Tote, the first is that you can choose from eight colors (sometimes, you gotta pick something that best suits your style!). The interior organization is second to none, with neatly arranged inside pockets for different object sizes – from single pen sleeves to a padded laptop pocket.
Ultra-lightweight, water resistant, and super organized, it pretty much satisfies all the criteria for a travel tote.
It also has a removable crossbody strap for when you want to go hands-free. But easily its most impressive feature – and one that makes it perfect for travelers frequently in and out of the airport – is the zippered sleeve designed explicitly so that it can slide over the handle of your suitcase.
How many times have you tried to lay your bag across the top of the case and it slides right off? That won’t happen with this bag, that’s for sure.
Elements of a Great Travel Tote
Size & Space
The first thing you’ll want in any travel bag is space. When you’re close to home and running your typical weekend errands, you don’t often need to carry much more than a wallet, a phone, and your keys. But traveling is a different story entirely; while exploring new places, you’ll undoubtedly want to have more with you in case of this or in case of that!
When in a city you’re not familiar with, it’s always best to be prepared for different situations; sometimes packing extra essentials means you need more room or specialized compartments. Look for bags that have an added pocket or two (especially hidden ones) for things like a passport, cash, or individual cards. This also makes them handy as airplane carry-ons!
From things like a spare pair of shoes (with all that walking, blisters are bound to happen!), a compact rain jacket for surprise weather, or other odds and ends like a journal, a travel guidebook, or a novel, having a little extra room is always a plus when you’re on the road.
So of course, you’ll need a bag capable of fitting all these items without being full to bursting (gotta save room for souvenirs!). The list of the best travel totes we’ve compiled ensures you’ll have the space you need for all the travel essentials, and a little extra for adding those precious finds you can’t wait to bring home.
It can be tricky to find the perfect middle ground between functional and stylish, but we’ve done our best to find a selection of the best travel totes that have a foot in both camps. While they’re perfect options for jet setting across the world, they’d look just as suave when you’re back home and running errands on the weekend!
Elements like sleek design and monochrome coloring make these ten picks among the best travel totes available. Bonus: they will never look out of place, whether you’re breezing down a beachy street on the Mediterranean seaside or visiting old haunts at home with your friends. What’s better than something you can use post-trip, too?
Travel can really put your luggage through the wringer. Think of airport carousels, bus roof racks, and natural wear and tear. We’ve all discovered new holes, rips, scratches and stains on our beloved luggage during or after a trip.
While something like a tote isn’t likely to be thrown around quite as aggressively as a suitcase or a travel backpack, you still want to invest in something you know is going to last – that’s why products with materials that increase durability is a must.
We’ve been careful to select a series of the best travel handbags made from strong and durable materials that resist all the usual suspects – rain, weight, and even theft. It makes sense to want to reuse your tote for many years to come; the first step is ensuring you purchase something with high-quality materials that won’t break down quickly.
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