How to Choose the Best Handbags for Travel

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One item that may be overlooked when you are getting your packing list ready for that international trip across the globe is choosing the best travel handbags. This is a very common mistake, but it shouldn’t be!

The reason is that a travel handbag is probably one of the only accessories that you will be carrying on your person every day of your trip. You want to make sure you bring some comfortable and stylish that is also secure with theft preventive measures.

You want to make sure that your travel handbag is big enough to fit all of your daily needs without being so bulky that you feel weighed down, making it more of a hassle than the benefit that it is.

It is very likely that the perfect travel handbag is going to be slightly different than the bag that you carry at home. That’s why it is important to look at the different features available for these bags and figure out what is going to work best for you.

So, here are a few things to ask yourself before picking out the best handbag for your next big trip.

Top 5 Travel Handbags

Best Travel HandbagOGIO Women's Brooklyn Tablet Purse
-Integrated cross body shoulder strap
-Two large main compartments
-Large interior zip pocket
-Fully padded base protects electronics
-Fully featured organization panel
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Best Travel HandbagMosiso Sling Backpack
-Large middle zipper compartment
-Small zippered compartments
-Water repellent
-Two mesh side bags
-Buckle closure
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Best Travel HandbagPacsafe Metrosafe Ls140 Anti-Theft Shoulder Bag
-7 inch tablet pocket
-Quick access front pocket
-Adjustable strap
-Carrysafe strap
-Lockabout security clip
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Best Travel HandbagTravelon Anti-Theft Messenger Bag
-Roomy main compartment with pockets for organization
-Zippered organizer with card slots, wall pocket, pen loop and removable LED light
-Compartments lock
-Adjustable cable-reinforced cut-proof shoulder strap
-RFID blocking card and passport slots
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Best Travel HandbagTumi Voyageur Canton Crossbody Bag
-Pen pocket
-Key leash
-Zip entry to main compartment
-Front straight pocket with locking zipper pull
-Quick-access back pocket with magnetic snap
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Quick Answer: The Best Handbags For Travel

Things to Consider When Buying a Travel Handbag

What kind of trip are you taking?

Lounging on the beach in Fiji - Best Travel Handbags

This is the question that will define the exact travel handbag you will need on your trip. Let me explain. If you are taking a trip to an all-inclusive island resort vacation, chances are you will never be more than a short walk from your hotel room and therefore you will naturally need to carry less.

Here you may want to opt for a smaller more stylish bag that can accompany you on evening dinners and walks around the local market. There is less of a need for high security purposes like RFID protection because you will only need your passport in the airport.

However, if you are planning a Europe trip with multiple stops you may want to lean towards a cross body messenger bag with secure zippers, internal organization pockets and RFID protection for your passport and credit cards.

This will allow you to comfortable fit everything necessary for a full day of travel while deterring potential purse thieves on the subway or in the streets.

How often will you be accessing the contents of your bag

Best Travel Handbags

It may seem difficult to quantify how often you dig in your bag on a daily basis. That is mostly because in everyday use this isn’t something we need to think about. However, in a travel setting, most of your days will be somewhat planned to you will have an idea of how often you will be needing to get in and out of your bag.

This is important for a couple of reasons. First, if you are going to be spending the day in and out of shops, picking up souvenirs, paying for lunch and hopping in and out of various modes of transportation you want a travel bag that is well organized and easy to get in and out of.

You don’t want to have to fiddle with straps, zippers, buttons, and clasps every time you make a transaction.

On the other hand, if you are regularly using public transportation, it may be better to have a bag that is harder to get into as it will help deter pickpockets.

What weather conditions do you expect to encounter?

Lina Stock in Brussels Belgium

When I talk about weather conditions I am mostly referring to rain. There is no quicker way to ruin a perfect day out than with a waterlogged handbag and soggy valuables.

That is why if you are planning to visit and area that gets a lot of moisture you may want to think about a bag with a waterproof/water-resistant exterior.

Cloth bags will soak up the moisture leaving you with a heavy wet bag while a treated vinyl, polyester, leather or nylon bag will be better at wicking away moisture and saving the contents of your bag from getting wet.

Types of travel handbags

Best Travel Handbags

Just like the handbag, you carry everyday travel handbags that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and configurations. The difference is that their purposes are a bit more concise when it comes to travel bags.

Each serves a specific purpose and is used as a tool to make you feel comfortable, fashionable and prepared for your trip. Here are some of the most popular travel handbags currently on the market.

Crossbody purse

This style of handbag usually comes with one long adjustable strap that is slung across the body for a comfortable hand free fit. The body of the purse can be small or large depending on your preference and can fit snug or loose.

This style tends to be a favorite among travelers as you have quick and easy hip access to your contents without having to remove the bag from your shoulder and it is a great deterrent against would-be purse thieves as they would have to fight to get it off of your body.

Small/lightweight handbags

Best Travel Handbags

This style of handbag might be what you are used to in your everyday carry. These bags help you to minimalize only carrying the essentials, which in turn helps keep your content organized and easy to access.

These smaller bags are usually carried on the shoulder or in your hand and can easily be stuffed into larger bags if the need arises.

They take the strain off your shoulders that larger bags can bring and are usually very stylish and can accent your evening attire very well making them great for resort vacations as previously mentioned.

Shoulder handbag/Messenger bag

Lina Stock at Hobbiton in New Zealand

These larger style bags are the perfect tool for multiple full-day excursions where you may need to carry more than just a few items. These can accommodate things like your camera, an extra jacket, an umbrella and/or multiple souvenirs.

The only problem with these bags is they can end up as a catch-all if you aren’t careful. They tend to have one large compartment, so they are not as easy to organize, and they can weigh you down if you overpack them.

They can also attract unwanted attention if you are toting them through questionable areas.

Anti-theft handbags

Best Travel Handbags

Anti-theft handbags refer more to the features than to the style. The bags can be small and handheld, crossbody sling or large shoulder bags depending on your preference.

What makes them anti-theft is their use of safety clasps on the zippers, RFID protected internal and external pockets and slash-proof strap material.

While not necessary everywhere, the added protection of these bags can give you peace of mind when traveling to areas known to target tourists for theft.

They are not obvious in their construction and can be just as stylish as the other bags listed here while giving you the comfort of knowing that you are protected if the worst happens.

Features to look for

Best Travel Handbags

There are a few features that set the best travel handbags ahead of the pack from their mediocre competitors. Here are a few things to look for to make sure you get the most out of your purchase.

  • Easy to clean and water-resistant external fabric: These will ensure that your contents stay dry and keep your travel handbag looking pristine through multiple uses.
  • Internal and external organizing pockets: This will keep you from struggling to find what you need while a busy TSA agent stares you down.
  • Security features: as mentioned in the anti-theft handbags look for things like safety clasps RFID pockets and slash-proof strap material. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.  
  • Both functional and stylish: Just because your travel handbag serves a purpose doesn’t mean it has to look like it does. Play with different colors and styles that accentuate your travel attire and make you feel fashionable at every moment.  
  • Sturdy zippers: YKK zippers are the most well known for a reason. They are strong zippers that are not as likely to break or get caught up even with extensive use.  
  • Adjustable straps: this will give you the comfort and versatility to make your handbag fit you perfectly. Some can allow you to take your bag from a cross-body to a shoulder bag or you can remove the strap completely to have a fashionable clutch for the night out on the town.  
  • Light-colored interior: this simple feature will make it easier to see and identify what you need out of the bag without having to sift through a dark hole. Some higher-end bags even come with a small LED light that can be useful especially with larger bags with one main storage space.  
  • Weatherproof: As we mentioned before, making sure your travel handbag is able to keep your contents dry and out of the elements is crucial. Always look for some sort of weather protective treatment even when heading to sunny climates.  

Best Travel Handbags: Our Recommendations

Ogio Brookly Travel Purse

Best Travel Handbags

Show off your style in this cross body tablet purse! Featuring button accents and available in variety colors, the Brooklyn Women’s Tablet Purse is a unique blend of fashion and function.

The front flap is intelligently designed to hide a zippered pocket in plain sight, and show off the flashy, interior liner. Two large main compartments provide space for all your essentials, and interior organization panel provides quick access to frequently used items.

Your tablet is right at home in the padded tablet pocket, and its padded base adds extra cushion. Wear it as a crossover messenger bag, or sling it from one shoulder.

Whatever your style, it works with the Brooklyn Women’s Tablet Purse.


  • Hidden zippered pocket for added storage
  • Fully padded zippered iPad/tablet/e-reader pocket
  • Integrated cross body shoulder strap
  • Two large main compartments
  • Large interior zip pocket
  • Fully padded base protects electronics
  • Fully featured organization panel
  • High visibility liner
  • Custom metal trims

Check Ogio Brookly Bag price at Amazon

Travelon Anti-Theft Messenger Bag

Best Travel Handbags

Protect your belongings from pickpockets and slash-and-grab thieves with the Anti-theft Travel Bag from Travelon. Featuring hidden pockets, slash-proof chain-link construction, and an adjustable, cable-reinforced, cut-proof shoulder strap.

The roomy main compartment features a locking zipper and pockets for organization.

The rear organizer includes slots for credit cards and pockets for travel documents. The zippered expansion pocket holds a camera, water bottle, or sunglasses.

Travelon’s Anti-Theft Crossbody and travel bags protect from pickpockets and thieves and are customer top rated. 


  • Roomy main compartment with pockets for organization
  • Zippered organizer with card slots, wall pocket, pen loop, and removable LED light
  • Compartments lock with lobster claw clasps
  • Adjustable cable-reinforced cut-proof shoulder strap
  • RFID blocking card and passport slots

Check Travelon’s Anti-Theft Messenger Bag price at Amazon

Tumi Voyageur Canton Crossbody Bag

Best Travel Handbags

A sleek option that’s perfect for work, travel, and everyday outings. The zippered main compartment opens to reveal a roomy interior with two additional smaller pockets, including one that zips to keep your smaller things organized.

A pocket on the back features a magnetic snap, making it the perfect place to securely stash your quick-access items. 

A purposeful, practical design that doesn’t compromise on style: Our Voyageur collection brings you versatile and lightweight nylon backpacks, bags, and accessories for women.


  • Zip pocket with TUMI Tracer
  • Card pocket
  • Pen pocket
  • Key leash
  • Zip entry to the main compartment
  • Front straight pocket with locking zipper pull
  • Quick-access back pocket with magnetic snap
  • Monogrammable detachable leather dangler/keyring
  • Adjustable crossbody strap
  • 3 media pockets

Check Tumi Voyageur Canton Crossbody Bag price at Amazon

Pacsafe Metrosafe Ls140 Anti-Theft Shoulder Bag

Best Travel Handbags

Lightweight, durable, and secure, the revamped Pacsafe Metrosafe LS-Series collection features a range of versatile, stylish bags in classic designs that are great for traveling abroad or just across the city.

These bags feature a number of Pacsafe anti-theft technologies to give you peace of mind.

The Metrosafe LS140 offers a convenient, stylish horizontal silhouette option for traveling and site-seeing. Featuring anti-theft technology with a padded sleeve to keep your tablet scratch-free.


  • Room for your gear
  • 7-inch tablet pocket
  • Quick access front pocket
  • Adjustable strap
  • Carrysafe strap
  • Lockout security clip
  • RFID safe

Check Pacsafe Metrosafe Ls140 Anti-Theft Shoulder Bag price at Amazon

Mosiso Sling Backpack

Best Travel Handbags

Designed with several pockets of different sizes to categorize your different stuff. This one bag is enough for all your necessities needed for your travels. Made of high-quality polyester which is water repellent and breathable.

Adjustable strap with a sturdy hook allowing for two ways (left or right) to carry this bag. This bag is fashionable and elegant and will never be out of fashion.


  • Large middle zipper compartment
  • Small zippered compartments
  • Water repellent
  • Two mesh side bags
  • Buckle closure
  • Ability to use as a chest, sling or shoulder pack

Check Mosiso Sling Backpack price at Amazon

Lina Stock in Fiji

Not finding what you are looking for? Check out our favorite places to go shopping for travel gear.

  • Shop Columbia: The industry leader in outdoor apparel and products; You can find anything from great jackets, gloves, hats, shirts and travel pants.
  • Shop REI: They offer some of the best outdoor gear around. We love REI since they have a year Love it or hate it no questions guarantee.
  • Shop Moosejaw: Has a huge selection of outdoor gear at killer prices.

More on Travel Gear:

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Looking to get started on your trip planning process? Let us help!

Travel Gear & Packing: Check out our packing lists and travel gear guide to ensure you're bringing the right items on your trip.

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Find A Car Rental:We use Discover Cars to compare car prices, find deals and book rentals.

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Find Vacation Rentals: Search vacation rentals & apartments on VRBO for the best prices and options.

Protect Your Trip:Don’t forget your travel insurance! Protect your investment and yourself. Read Is Travel Insurance Worth It?

If you need more help planning your trip, be sure to check out our Step by Step Trip Planning Guide where we break down our process for getting the trip planning process right every single time.

About David Stock

I have always been an outdoorsman so becoming an adventure traveler was just the next natural step. I love nature, I love to get off the beaten path and I like to explore. I enjoy scuba diving and cars. And yes, Lina and I have a naked dog.

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