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Non-Travel Handbags That are Useful for Travel

handbags for travel

Travel purses are like travel clothes. They will need to provide a level of utility in order to prove worthwhile for packing, but where utility flows in, fashion often flows out. Many popular travel purses are the accessories equivalent of those khaki zip-off pants (which do have a purpose on some packing lists), so for trips where you’re not hiking down dirt roads and instead are drinking wine in fancy European bars, you might want to forego a bit of that extra security of typical travel purses for added style.

If chosen well, travel purses can be both fashionable and functional.

Essential Qualities

Comfortable: The most important feature of a handbag for travel is the ability to wear it for a full day of walking around. It must have comfortable straps and plenty of compartments for your needed knickknacks.

Secure: Cross body bags are better at preventing theft, as are slash-proof straps. While we still recommend the robust security of a slash-proof mesh lined purse, going for something made of leather is usually tougher to cut through than fabric. Also, forget the bags that only secure with a snap or magnet and go for a tough zipper that you can then lock with a lobster clasp or carabiner clip in crowded areas. If for some reason you prefer the look of a bag that has only a snap closure, try to find one that has a hidden pocket to store your more valuable purse items.

The Right Size: The size and style of purse will depend on how you intend to use it in your travels. Will you use it for cash, cards, and small bits and bobs (like lip balm and a mirror)? If so, then a smaller purse that can also act as a clutch can suffice. Some travelers, like Adventurous Kate, prefer the smaller purse models because they can easily be managed, shifted, and hid close to the body.

If you intend to use your travel purse to carry extra essentials- think in place of a daypack– then bigger is better. In that case, the ability to fold small for days you may not use it is even better.

Non-Travel Purses That are Useful for Travel

Here are a few examples of potential handbags that can serve you well on your travels.

SONOMA life + style Flap Crossbody Bag

Sonoma life + style Flap Cross Body Bag, $60 USD
I own this bag and have gone on many travels with it since purchasing in the States in 2014. Not only does this bag look awesome and age with faded glory, it’s spacious enough to tote around everything from a travel scarf and a light jacket to an iPad and extra reading material for an airplane. Even though this bag has a simple snap closure, there is the additional zipper pocket on the flap, and that pocket runs very deep! I’ve used this pocket to store my, and my boyfriend’s, passport.

>> Check this bag out on the Kohl’s site.

baggallini Belfast Crossbody Bag

Baggallini Belfast Mini Cross Body Bag, $65
This one’s for the girls who prefer a smaller bag option for their travels. The Baggallini Belfast Mini might not be made of leather, but it has a classy vibe given the size and shape, and especially in black. Despite its size, there are several compartments secured with zips (one zippered section is even located within the main zip, making it a great place for more valuable items). The main strap is meant to be worn cross body, but it can also be removed and used as a clutch or wristlet.

>> Check out this bag on Amazon. Please note that we are an Amazon affiliate and will receive a commission if you purchase, but at no extra cost to you.

morgan traveler bag by Fossil

The Morgan Traveler by Fossil, $148
This cross body bag is big enough for the iPad and has pockets galore for stashing in an organized manner. The outer zipper pouch has space for 5 credit or ID cards, which can be handy as long as you feel comfortable storing them there.

>> Check out this bag on the Fossil site.

These are just a few options to get you started. Do YOU have a good handbag that is useful for travel? Share it below!

Non-Travel Handbags for Travel

Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm planning adventures or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

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Travel Resources

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Reader Interactions


    • Leigh says

      This is great, thanks for posting! I found a great camera bag on Lo & Sons, but at $300 I’m not sure I can justify it,and it looks like it only holds 1 extra lens. I will explore these other options as well now!


  1. Abby Woody says

    I use a purse I got a couple of Christmases ago as a gift–it converts from a cross-body to a shoulder bag to a clutch, so it’s very versatile. It doesn’t carry tons but I can fit all my essentials for sure. Had trouble finding the exact one online, but this is very similar. I only wish mine was a more standard color–it’s kelly green so it doesn’t match with every outfit.

  2. Maggie Sondag says

    I used the cross body bag that is sold by thirty-one bags. It has zippers, inside pockets, it is not too big or too small. I loved it when I traveled to London and Paris. It was big enough to hold everything I needed and still small enough to easily keep track of. Plus it is really comfortable! It is a little more expensive but definitely worth it! Here is the link.

  3. Rosie says

    I often use a regular handbag instead of a daypack – except when trekking etc. I find it can be more secure than a backpack as I carry it under my arm so it can’t be opened without me realising. It is also much easier to get my wallet etc out than having to take off a backpack everytime I need something 🙂

  4. MEISSOUN says

    I am a big fan of LeSportsac. They have models in many sizes, and what I like best is that they are very lightweight and surprisingly sturdy. I have one small handbag that has literally travelled around the world with me and still looks like new.

  5. Lindsey says

    i totally swear by my Articulate clutch – rfid blocking, fits my phone or my passport (unfortunately not both together, because of my bulky otterbox phone case), and fits money of all shapes and sizes. easily converts for different occasions with the different straps, too!

  6. Niki says

    I traveled through parts of Europe and Middle East last year with a little cross body purse I got from Target that looked similar to those above. It zipped and has a flap- best of all it doesn’t shout tourist which makes me uncomfortable about a lot of the super traveler options. I use it constantly and and just aware of where it is on me and of the surroundings.

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