Our Top 5 Travel Purses

top travel purses

For most females, our purse is our lifeline. In everyday life we never know what we might need, which is why it can often seem like a bottomless pit for everything from hair clips to tissues to receipts and a good book.

But on your travels it is even more essential, potentially serving as a carry on bag and backpack in one. Important features include some sort of theft protection and comfortable straps for long wear. It’s also a good idea to have a cross body feature so that it is harder to pull off your shoulder. The last thing you need is to get your bag stolen. We’ve discussed whether or not you should travel with a purse, but if you decide that you want to, here are our picks for top travel purses that are both functional and cute!

PacSafe Citysafe 400 GII Hobo Bag

pacsafe citysafe 400 GII hobo bag
Check out the Pacsafe Citysafe 400 GII Hobo Bag on Amazon.

As an owner of another PacSafe bag, the Slingsafe 300 GII, I absolutely love this company’s products. You can expect the same features for this purse, namely the mesh-lined fabric, zipper clasps and plentiful pockets. I find this purse to be a bit cuter than the Slingsafe 100 Anti Theft Travel Purse because it looks more like one I might carry back home.

  • Pros: lots of colors, zipper clips, compartments
  • Cons: strap adjustments

Travelon Anti Theft Purse

travelon anti-theft messenger bag
Get the Travelon Anti-Theft Messenger on Amazon.

The Travelon has many of the same features as the PacSafe purses. Guest blogger Kristen told us about the different features of her bag and how it kept her from being pickpocketed in Portugal. The cross body bag’s outer pockets mean that there is a place for everything.

  • Pros: zipper clip, slash proof strap, multiple compartments, expandable pockets
  • Cons: long strap length

Manhattan Portage Vintage Messenger Bag Jr.

Manhattan Portage Vintage Messenger Bag Jr.
Check out the official site.

Long before I started traveling, I got this bag to be an everyday cross between a purse and a backpack. Since then it’s been to San Francisco, New York and everywhere in between. I like that it has enough room to hold a notebook or anything else you might need.

  • Pros: simple design, clasp, size
  • Cons: shoulder strap isn’t very comfortable

Keen Brooklyn II Travel Bag

Keen Brooklyn II travel bag
Check out the Keen Brooklyn II bag on Amazon.

While Keen is typically known for their footwear, they also make some great travel bags, like the Brooklyn model. The interior has enough room for all your knickknacks as well as an outer pocket for your boarding pass and passport.

  • Pros: plenty of pockets, made from recycled aluminum
  • Cons: few color choices

Tom Bihn Small Cafe Bag

Tom Bihn small cafe bag
Check out the official website.

This bag is the perfect size for travels and has a clasp and zippered pocket to keep others from getting in. There are lots of nice colors and it doesn’t necessarily make you look like a tourist.

  • Pros: clips for organizing pouches, key strap, sturdy nylon
  • Cons: cost

What Should You Carry In Your Purse?

While traveling, here are a few items that I recommend always carrying with you. Some items can be substituted if you have a smartphone.

  • A map of your destination, which you can typically pick up for free at the visitor’s center
  • The address to your hostel or hotel, ideally a business card
  • Pen and paper
  • Copy of some form of identification, preferably passport
  • Bandaids in case of blisters
  • Sunglasses
  • Lip balm
  • Hand sanitizer or wet wipes
  • Scarf for churches or other religious sites

>> You might also be interested in this post on non-travel handbags that are useful for travel.

What’s your favorite travel purse, and what do you carry in yours while traveling?

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Amberleigh says

    I recently bought the Keen Brooklyn II bag for my trip to UK in May. I usually carry a pretty big purse (I’m a mom…), but have been carrying this bag since mid-February as my every day purse, just to make sure I would be able to function with a smaller purse for 14 days! So far so good!

  2. Judi says

    I like the Baggalini travel purse. Mine is a cross body type and very light, but still fairly roomy for essentials.

  3. Megan E. says

    I have the Tom Bihn MCB and use it every day – but for travel I switch since it does NOT have a zippered main pocket and thus is a bit problematic.

    Also, don’t carry your passport in your purse, take your licence or id card, but the passport is harder to replace and should be kept on your person (ie, hidden pocket).

    • Dan says

      Agreed. I always keep my passport in a totally separate location from my other belongings. If you lose that… trip becomes quite a nightmare.

  4. Barb says

    I am carrying a Bagalini cross body bag on a trip through Italy. There is a double zipper pocket on the front that also has a large magnetized flap covering it. I centre the zipper pulls, lock them together with a small combo lock and the flap covers the lock. Who knows my passport and extra cash are locked in there. Another great feature is a wallet clip. I can take my wallet out and use it without unclipping it. If a pickpocket did open the purse, he’d still have another obstacle. Cons: The strap is the same material as seatbelts and like a seatbelt, it chafes my shoulder when I wear sleeveless tops. Good value, especially if you can find one in a second hand shop.

  5. Roxanne says

    I carry a Baggalini Everyday Bagg when traveling that I can drop in a backpack or large tote bag if need be. I also carry plenty of tissues, never know when you need them in emergency!

  6. Michele Lerable says

    For most city touring I love the Kipling bags. In particular, I bought two of the Defea bags, one in silver and one in red, and they hold everything I need for a day of touring, including my camera, an extra lens, etc. It is very durable and lightweight canvas material, it has an inside clasp for wallets, and lots and lots of pockets with good heavy duty zips. I also bought the 22″ Kipling rolling duffle and dragged that bag all over South America, Iceland and Africa, and it withstood some pretty rough handling along the way. I’ve also bought a number of their smaller bags, including a small bag for going out in the evening that holds just my wallet, phone and a lipstick. I absolutely love the Kipling stuff. I’ve travelled all my life, and this is the best.

  7. athabasca says

    I’ve been a huge fan of the PacSafe messenger bags and think their layout, build quality and safety features are unsurpassed and won’t go on about them here, but I wore out my last CitySafe bag and decided to try the Hobo.

    Ok, first off, it is HUGE. And I’m a tall woman. I almost sent it back, but decided to give it a try, and I really like it now–but this is how I hack it…One: I never fill it up–I load it up just with things I’ll need for the flight or the day. Two: I use sub-containers to hold papers, winter gear, books, airplane amenities, toiletries–it helps organize the big space and I can throw folders or pouches in when I need them. Three: I put a large travel wallet that I keep any valuables in (id, cash, camera, Nook, etc.) and if I’m going someplace that has a coat-check I check my coat and the big bag and keep the smaller bag with me. The bag has a security hook t hat I tether the wallet inside the bag as an added security feature.

    The inside of the bag has a sleeve for laptops with a snap (where I keep flat things like magazines or papers); an inside zippered (with a hook); a place to hook your keys; and side pockets for pens, a phone and one of the pockets is RFID-proof. There is an outside zipped pocket that also unzips at the bottom so you could slip the bag over the handle of a rolling bag,but I don’t use it that way. I only use the outside pocket for maps and guidebooks that I need to have easy access to. There are also pockets on each end that I put my travel umbrella in if I need it and carry my water bottle too–they have elastic you can cinch up which is nice. I also stow my camera in the pocket at the front when the bag is slung around me so I can get to it quickly. You can change the length of the strap though you might want to look at the instructions online–it took me a couple of tries to figure it out.

    If you are a small person you might want to check out the dimensions first, but I love having a bag that can adapt to changing conditions and lets me stuff my coat inside it or buy groceries, wine, yarn and tote it home…

  8. Cindy says

    I just purchased the Keen Brooklyn II online for an upcoming trip. The biggest reason I was drawn towards it was because of the internal water bottle pocket. There’s nothing I hate more than a loose water bottle on day trips. I hope it’s as good as I’m hoping!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Travel purses and messenger bags are essentials for the female traveler, as we use them for carry on bags as well as to tramp around a new city with. I usually travel either with my PacSafe Slingsafe daypack or with my beaten up Manhattan Portage messenger bag. But when Litegear asked me to check out their City Tote, I was excited to give it a go on my most recent trip to Puerto Rico. I packed carry on only, using just my Timbuk2 Aviator and the City Tote, which I found to be just the right amount. […]

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